A Gymnastic Exercise from Top International Rider Callan Solem

Callan Solem is one of the top riders competing in the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Lexington. She shares a favorite gymnastic exercise that encourages the horse to be responsive to the leg.

Callan Solem, the top-placed American in the 2016 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final, notes that when choosing exercises for your horse, “so much of how you use a gymnastic depends on the strengths and weaknesses of your horse, the venue you’re headed to and what you’re trying to accomplish.”]

At the same time, it’s key to remember “anything you are seeing that doesn’t seem like it is building confidence needs to be addressed. Whether you give them (a horse) more room or less room (between fences), or put a chute in for straightness, whatever you need to react to should always be building confidence.”

She shares an exercise that aims at “making sure your gas pedal will work well if you jump a careful vertical/oxer combination. Your horse can be really careful at the vertical, but then when you land and put your leg on him to stretch to the back of the oxer, this helps you practice that. In two steps, you put your leg on and they cross the oxer easily.”

Nancy Jaffer

Callan suggests beginning with small pieces of the exercise, then adding jumps as you go along.

“I always start gentle, maybe the set-up rail and the cross-rail, then adding in the pieces one at a time, so your horse doesn’t feel overwhelmed.” For the set-up and landing poles, she suggests using cavaletti, because regular poles on the ground can roll if you horse hits them.

The approach is at the canter. “It’s important you’d be able to come off of both leads,” she said.

This gymnastic begins with a set-up rail 9 feet to a crossrail, then 10 feet to a landing rail and from there, 11 feet to a vertical and finally, 33 feet to an oxer.

This exercise could be done at heights up to 1.20 or 1.30 meters. She advises it’s a good idea to finish the exercise with smaller fences than the highest you’ve jumped during the exercise. If you went to 1.20 meters, for instance, you could go back to 1.15 or 1.10; although not necessarily the lowest height you used.

“It’s sort of like a pat on the back. Once you reach a point where you’re happy with it, then go down a few holes again, so the horse is feeling, `Wow, that was so easy. I’m so good at this. Everything is great’,” she explained.

Callan notes that Olympic double gold medalist Joe Fargis is a big proponent of not leaving horses to finish on their greatest effort of the day.

“Once they’ve solved the problem, make them feel good about it. It keeps everybody wanting to come back.”

Callan is among the top international riders competing in the $250,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Lexington at 7 p.m. on November 4, 2017. The event is part of the CP National Horse Show in Lexington, Ky., October 31-November 5. Other highlights include the $130,000 International Open Jumper Class at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, November 2, 2017.

This is the seventh 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 Lexington and the CP National Horse Show. We’ll bring you videos and photos of your favorite horses and riders, along with the latest news and results. 

BONUS: Enter to win a trip for two to the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in Paris, France, April 10–15, 2018. To earn an additional 10 extra bonus entries, send a selfie that you take while you are at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Lexington and upload it to the entry page. 

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