A Gymnastic Exercise from International Rider Charlie Jacobs

Charlie Jacobs shares his favorite gymnastic exercises, designed to put him on the same page as his horse when he arrives at a competition after spending part of the week in his office.

Even though Charlie Jacobs is a top-level executive with limited time for riding, he has been able to qualify for the last two Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals, and now is going for number three. (Moved here from Deck). It’s crunch time for Charlie at this weekend’s Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Ocala. The competition at the Live Oak International show in Florida is the final Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League qualifier for the final in Paris next month.

Charlie Jacobs and Cassinja S at the 2017 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Ocala at the Live Oak International in Florida. Nancy Jaffer

Charlie is tied for the last available spot with Catherine Tyree, so he needs a top-notch performance at Live Oak with Cassinja S, the German sporthorse mare on whom he finished 16 at the 2017 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in Omaha.

His situation is complicated by the fact that he works in Boston, for his job as CEO of the Boston Bruins hockey team and Delaware North Corp.’s Boston Holdings. Meanwhile, his horse is in Florida, so he has limited time to ride, unlike most of the athletes against whom he competes.

So gymnastics are very important for Charlie, as he prepares for an important competition with the guidance of his trainer, Max Amaya.

“I always try to do a gymnastic exercise that will help me develop a rapport with my mare for these bigger classes,” Charlie commented.

Start with Cavalletti

“The cavalletti helps you judge your eye and helps the rhythm, so you get the feel for the horse’s striding and where they’re at,” Charlie said. “I get a temperature on how much she’s going to need in terms of my supportive leg, or to be collected; how much she’s going to be in my hand. It’s a really good measuring tool for both eye and temperament.”

Charlie starts with a line of three cavalletti, 44 feet apart.

Charlie picks up a canter and on his first trip over the cavalletti, will put in three canter strides between each one.

When Cassinja S is warmed-up and listening, Charlie will collect her and do four strides between each cavalletti. Ultimately, he will get her so collected they can do five strides.

“Then we begin to alternate, so I’ll do three strides between the first and second cavalletti and five between the second and third,” he said, noting he goes through the exercise in both directions.

Gymnastic Jumping Exercise

After Charlie has gotten into the groove and Cassinja S is listening to both leg and hand, he rides her through another gymnastic jumping exercise which helps the horse collect and stretch. He places an oxer, vertical and then another oxer in a line. The first oxer to the vertical is spaced roughly 74 feet—a long five strides. The vertical to the second oxer is spaced roughly 24 feet—a short one-stride. On some occasions, after doing the long five, he will change the distance after the first oxer from 74 feet to 70 feet for a short five.

Obstacle heights can vary on this exercise; he does it with fences that stand anywhere from 3 feet to 1.40 meters. (Jumping it at a height lower than 3 feet would change the measurements between fences.)

“The morning of [the competition], I will do the cavalletti exercise to make sure she’s listening to both hand and leg,” explained Charlie. “When I’m getting ready for the class, I’ll just jump a single jump. Obviously, it will go up and down in oxer and vertical iterations, but I’m just getting her and myself ready to go in the ring.”

This is the final competition in the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League for riders vying for points for a spot at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final, April 10–15, 2018 in Paris, France.

Follow our coverage of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Ocala and the Live Oak International. We’ll bring you photos of your favorite horses and riders, along with the latest news and results. 

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