There are several types of water jumps. In the cross-country phase, there are water ditches and in show jumping, there are liverpool and open water jumps. The course designer places these obstacles in the middle of the course to disrupt the balance and the pace of the horses. To approach it well, it must be jumped in the same way as any other obstacle.
To master the liverpool, for example, it is important to get your horse used to going past it during the warm-up. Show him the water tray from the front and then from the side, so that he accepts moving towards it. This way, he will start to accept it and be less afraid. You can go around it several times and ask for transitions near it.
Once the warm-up is over, start by jumping the water tray alone without adding any poles above it. Only place some wings and wing poles to make sure your horse doesn’t hesitate and doesn’t think of running past it. The aim is to get your horse to jump in the most relaxed manner possible.
Make him jump the water tray several times until he no longer pays attention to it and you feel that he doesn’t mind anymore.
Then, you can add vertical poles above it when you feel that your horse is gaining confidence and that you are in control. Keep your wing poles for the whole session if you have to. There’s nothing wrong with that! You have to make it feel natural and easy. In the next session, you will be able to try more things out and remove the wing poles if you feel that your horse is more confident.
Once you jump the liverpool smoothly followed by another obstacle behind it, you can place the liverpool under an oxer. Begin with an ascending oxer so that the shape of the fence creates a more inviting jump. If the rising oxer goes well, you can then move on to a square oxer.
Liverpools will then have to become a habit. It can be a good idea to leave it out in the outdoors arena and to walk past it every day when you are schooling or jumping.
Water trays are a good preparation for the open water jumps that you’ll encounter at a higher level of show jumping, which can be from two and a half to four meters wide.
If your horse is very confident jumping the liverpool, you can start tackling open water jumps in the same way. Your horse will then continue jumping with the same relaxed attitude.
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