Grid Works Pays Off When the Fences Get BIG!

Grid work and dressage play a big role in jumper training. Joe Bear has gained confidence over fences due to lots of gymnastic work over small fences. See more photos in Joe Bear's Photo Gallery.

Grid work and dressage play a big role in jumper training. Joe Bear has gained confidence over fences due to lots of gymnastic work over small fences. See more photos in Joe Bear's Photo Gallery.

Joe Bear and I haven’t been out and about very much in the recent months but I hope to do something soon. We have been working at home with lots of hill work and flat work and I make it a habit to do grid work at least once a week. I recently realized that the dressage saddle I have been using for years no longer fits Joe well. He started pinning his ears and tightening his back when I asked him to move forward. Behavior that is completely out of character. Turns out my saddle, plus an overdue need for a chiropractic check-up, was the reason.

Once he was happily back in alignment, I borrowed Elizabeth’s dressage saddle and was wowed in the first ride! Not only was Joe much happier, but I could actually sit the trot with considerably more ease! The sitting trot is especially hard if the horse’s back is tense and with an ill fitting saddle, how can the horse relax? So not only are my rides so much better, but I get to buy a new saddle!

In the meantime we have been doing grid work and canter poles and on Sunday I put up a more challenging jump. I stood up two barrels, laid a pole across the top and ran a pole down each side to help center his approach. It was solid and intimidating, but really got him to lift his legs. The grid work has given him so much more confidence and when I approach fences he does not rush at them and resist the contact by throwing his head. Plus, in the pictures, I can finally see an improvement in his jumping style and leg position.

Paula and Joe Bear have been a team for many years. We have lots more Joe Bear and Paul Success Stories on our Bits & Bytes Farm Web site. Be sure to read how Paula’s husband, David, gave his wife the best possible Valentine’s Day gift!