I have a 6 year old Sect D pony who is great at showjumping – except when it comes to skinnies when she lets me down every time running out to the side! Can you offer any advice on how to tackle them successfully?
Skinnies are a classic rider frightener and they come up regularly on show jumping tracks so it’s really important you and your pony learn to deal with them if you are to stand any chance of success.
Why are they tricky? Well, obviously the width – they are harder to navigate to and there is less room for mistakes; often, they come without wings and therefore can be really easy targets for a runout.
The good news is that there are some simple things you can do to deal with them:
The key is to jump them regularly as part of her jump training so they become second nature and it isn’t a big deal. To start with be careful not to overface her. Pick a low, narrow fence and set up some guiding poles and some wings either side of it so that as you ride towards it you are “funnelled” in and there is less temptation for your pony to dodge out to the side.
Come on a collected stride, so you’re absolutely certain that both of you see it and are engaged with it. The earlier you set up your track and distance, the better your chances are of jumping it. Use a some leg pressure and keep a bit more feel of her mouth, so she’s really going forward and in your hand.
Once you have confidently jumped this a few times, then remove the wings, then guiding poles and try again each time. Success comes from repetition and the more times you do this, the better and more confident you and your pony will become. Good luck!