Riding a connected broken line, you jump two fences set on a curved line where how you ride the first jump affects how you arrive at the second, called related striding. To be successful and smooth, you need to keep your horse in balance while choosing the correct track and pace to produce the desired number of strides between the jumps. Any loss of balance, direction or pace will make it difficult to recover between jumps and cause you to “miss” the distance–leave out a stride or have an awkward too-close or too-long takeoff. Combining two broken lines, creating a total of three or more jumps connected by related distances on curved lines, increases this challenge.
When riding connected distances well, each jump sets you up for the next. For every jump, you have to take off in control and land in control. Particularly with the first jump of the line, you have to take responsibility about your track both arriving at and riding away from the fence.
Watch this video of two exercises I use with many of my students to help develop these essential skills and “tune” your eye. The first combines two lines that curve in the same direction, creating a half-circle. With it, you can practice your timing skills without worrying about changing leads. When you’ve mastered that, you’ll be ready for my second exercise, two soft loops of an S-curve line, which incorporates a change of bend and lead in the middle of two broken lines. Then check out more ways to add variety and increase the difficulty of the S-curve exercise.
Grand prix show jumper Peter Leone began riding at age 5 and went on to earn many Best Child Rider Awards at major horse shows before winning the World Cup Grand Prix of New York at age 18. Since then, he has represented the U.S. Equestrian Team at numerous international competitions, including the 1982 World Championships and the 1996 Olympics, in which his teams placed fourth and second, respectively.
To read more about Peter’s exercises to improve your track-riding skills, see “2 Exercises to Tune Your Eye” in the October 2009 issue of Practical Horseman.