Inaugural Outdoor Course

If your trainer ever says, “I have something really fun for you!” just run in the other direction. Save yourself. Learn from my mistakes.

The other day trainer said that she had a fun favor to ask of me and Devyn (my favorite not-so-little-anymore 12yo barn rat): did we want to design and set this season’s inaugural course in the outdoor ring? You all know that I’m an aficionado of course design, so of course I immediately said yes! Of course! That’s gonna be a blast!

And then the 12yo got evil and decided to make a bunch of oxers and also is tiny so her mom and I were stuck moving all the SUPER HEAVY standards. Cue soreness.

We had a few constraints to work with- Trainer wanted a triple bounce of crossrails on one of the quarter lines, and it had to be something that could be set for a variety of riders. Devyn showed up with 3 options to choose from, all with measurements for the lines asking a variety of technical questions (including a slightly short vertical-vertical 2 stride to a slightly long four stride out…I told you the kid is evil. Knowledgeable, creative, and ambitious, but evil. It’s a potent combination). That plan survived first contact, but we ended up having to make tweaks to work with the types of jumps we had, the shape of the ring, and the versatility we wanted to have.

Trainer showed up as we were setting, and was able to give some helpful pointers:

  • Diagonal lines need less room on the side away from the ingate, since you naturally don’t have quite as much pace heading away and therefore don’t need as much room to turn. Better to give a little extra room for when you’re heading home so you don’t have to veer through the turn.
  • Don’t think of the ring as a rectangle. Think of the exercises you want to include, and then build those- that way you’re not locked into measurements and can adjust the exercise to any type of space you have available.
  • Don’t bunch the jumps in the middle of the ring. If you spread them out them you give yourself options to do long OR short approaches because you’ve given yourself room to move.

After much trial and error and cursing from dropping heavy jumps on my toes, here’s what we came up with:

outside course

So we have the triple bounce on the quarterline, a blue plank on the far outside, a yellow plank in the corner, a stone wall oxer on the near outside, a plain vertical single, a diagonal line (set to 4 strides) with a gate oxer and rolltop, a yellow vertical end jump, and a small crossrail jumping out of (or into) the ring. The big green shapes are little hillocks in the grass outside the ring.

I think we’ve got some fun options here! One of the exercises that I think would be fun would be jumping out of the ring, coming back to a walk over the hillocks, then trotting back in the ingate to do the end jump away from home. Then you could either do the rollback turn left to continue up the diagonal line and bending line towards home, or continue right up the single outside to the bending line towards home. We were hoping to include a skinny trot jump in there, but we just ran out of room. Maybe that yellow end jump could be the skinny? Only if someone else wants to move it though, I don’t plan on moving any rails any time soon!

I’ll get to observe the course in action this week and I’ll get to play with it myself on Friday, so I’ll have to report back with how people like it. Until then, let me know what you think! Any ideas for fun exercises we can include next time Trainer asks us to help design?

Because let’s be honest- I’ll keep saying yes every time.