Training Programs for Jumpers with Jenn Serek

Experience, age, and stage require huge variations when it comes to the intensity of training programs. Here are two detailed week-by-week s

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By: Jessica Lefroy |

Every horse and rider require personalized training to bring out their best. Some factors to take into consideration when creating short-term programming include the venue and footing the horse will be jumping on (is it indoors, sand, grass?), whether they are going to have to jump the water or derby jumps, and so on. Are you or your horse going to face something you’ve never seen at an upcoming show? How did you do at the last show? Are you seeing results from the program?

More long-term considerations need to include fitness and goals: is the horse fit enough? Are you moving up a level? You need to be capable of identifying your weaknesses with a critical eye when planning your schedule for the month and for the year.

I always work backwards and look at the schedule of horse shows to figure out what classes I’m trying to aim for. By identifying the classes you want to do well in, you can plan training in a way that will allow the horses to peak at the right time. Although I am constantly evaluating and adapting throughout the year, I do this well before the season even starts so I have a good idea of what my year will look like early on.

The schedules here are two examples of horses in my barn that have different workloads and require different preparation. Every schedule in my barn is very different, because it’s all very horse-dependant. Some horses might need a lot of preparation, some may need to show many days in a row, and some horses are better not showing and being a little bit fresher on a big show day. It is important to make the program early, but also be flexible enough to re-evaluate the program frequently with a critical eye to see if it’s working.

With horses, we must always be evolving. As much as we can sit down and map it out, the horses always tell you what they need, and figuring out how to listen is part of being a horseman.

Fergie – Grand Prix Newbie

Fergie is an eight-year-old warmblood mare. I’ve had her about six months, and we are just getting her started in the grand prix. We have been competing in the 1.40m/1.45m classes. This horse is very rideable, just lacks a bit of experience. At home we need to keep her fit, while at the shows she has much more energy, but still maintains her focus.

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Rubix – Equitation Finals Warrior

Rubix is a 15-year-old warmblood gelding. He is a seasoned equitation horse who has been to the finals and knows his job, and this training schedule is a good example of a program for a student that would be aiming for the CET Finals. Much as I do with the horses, we pick the classes (qualifying classes, etc.) and work backwards. What hasn’t the rider seen? What are the rider’s weaknesses? This horse is very well-schooled, so it is a question of giving the rider enough time in the saddle.

I give the horse one training ride a week on the flat to make sure he’s responsive, and my students typically lesson three times per week. There is no jumping outside of a lesson, but these kids are developing horsemen, so their ability to plan and execute flatwork correctly is an important skill that I encourage. I hold them accountable for their flatwork outside of lessons and they need to know what, how, and why they are trying to accomplish things under saddle.

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