How to set up a grid to work for horse jumps

show horse jumping a barrier image by Clarence Alford from

Jumping a horse through grids is a popular way to encourage correct jumping technique for both horse and rider. Grids consist of several jumps set up in a straight line at different distances from one another.

Distances in grids can range from a 12-foot "bounce," where the horse lands and then takes off again with no strides in between, to a 24-foot one stride, to a 36-inch two stride. There are hundreds of different configurations of grids that can be used, making this a technique appropriate for everyone from beginner through advanced.

Design a grid appropriate for both horse and rider. Configurations can range from a series of two strides for the most inexperienced, to a series of bounces and one strides for the more advanced. Also, keep in mind the goal of the grid. If you want to teach a strong horse to back off from the fences, set a series of one strides alternating with bounces. If you want to work on lengthening the stride, starting with bounces and progressing to one and two strides may be a better choice. You can set as many fences as you choose, but more than eight in a row is generally considered too strenuous for even the most athletic horse. Grids should always be designed to suit the goals and experience of both horse and rider.

Measure the distances you wish to set between jumps with the measuring tape. Traditionally, a bounce is set with 12 feet between each jump, a one stride is 24 feet and a two stride is 36 feet. This is because jumping horses and large ponies are expected to have a 12-foot canter stride and need 6 feet for both landing and take-off. For small and medium ponies, a bounce is set at 10 feet, a one stride is 20 feet and a two stride is 30 feet, because of their slightly shorter stride length.

Set up the jumps at the intervals you measured out. Keep in mind that jumps used in grid work should always be kept low because of the intensive nature of the exercise itself. Fences used for bounces should almost never exceed 3 feet in height for even the most advanced pair, and the first fence in the exercise should always be the lowest.