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Posted on Jan 19, 2016 in Top tips

Top Tips for Indoor showjumping by Mia Palles-Clark

Top Tips for Indoor showjumping by Mia Palles-Clark

Indoor Showjumping.. tips and preparation

Indoors is a shock.. October 1st after all the lovely space we’ve enjoyed all summer we become confined to a 4 square space (of varying sizes) and our Showjumping rounds can feel a little bit like being the ball in a pinball machine!

However once you’re over the shock and into the swing its an excellent way to hone your skills, improve your accuracy and learn some new lines and challenges from the course builders.

Once you’ve nailed your Showjumping indoors the early season outdoor event courses will feel so spaced out and simple (technically) you should find them a doddle!


  • Discipline, ride in your arena like you need every inch of space, straight lines, curved corners, off the track, look where you want to ride. Train your horse to be as space efficient as you can.
  • Be inventive, train over technical lines, related distances, straight and curved, doubles into a distance and the other way too. Fences across the short sides and in the centre of the arena.
  • Get training, intensive sessions with your SJ coach will get you mentally sharp enough and ready for indoor Showjumping.
  • Arena hire, a ‘practise’ session or two with your coach at a venue you will likely compete at will help smooth the transition from outdoors to indoors. Attention to detail is everything.
  • Suss out the warm up.. these can be pressure cooker environments and potentially dangerous. The warm up is even smaller usually than the arena and can take some getting used to. Be positive, vigilant and expressive in your body language, call clearly for your fence “vertical” or “oxer” and make sure your outside leg is working for good turns. Take good care of your groom/helper/parent/husband in this environment too. (The first class of the day on a Weekend morning can be the most disorganised collecting ring, nervous riders and novice horses..!)
  • Be aware of mid-week opportunities as well as weekend shows. Mid-week will be quieter and possibly useful for a clear round practise session or two or even an ’*HC’ round to get some practise in at the same height. Prompting cries from showjumpers of “look out the eventers are here”!! *HC mean ‘Hors concours’ or in English ‘non-competitive’ Check out the relevant rules on this and be aware it is at the judges discression .. If it’s a very busy class they may not let you go HC but generally on a quiet weekday the centre owners are glad of the extra entry fees!
  • Make sure you know your ‘tables’ ie which rules the class is judged under:
  • A7 = first round plus a separate jump off against the clock if you’re clear (not usual below 1.20m) Can mean lots of hanging around if it’s a big class and you go early, don’t forget to warm up again properly.
  • Single phase: 12-14 fences, first half ‘normal’ height second half 10 cms higher and timed (your jump off). Very common 90-1.20m indoors, will look bigger than a normal course so take this into consideration when you enter!
  • Two phase: As above but if you fault in the first phase the bell rings and you must leave the arena. Can be very short lived if you have the first fence down!
  • A4: 1 round straight against the clock (speed class) Plan turns and short cuts when walking the course.. showjumpers will be out to win this and if you take all the long routes you may end up with time faults!
  • Be aware of start and finish lights especially in a confined space. You must break the beam at the start and finish, but be careful not to do it by accident, plan your route to the first fence well. (Wait for the bell too!) Crossing your path is fault able (4f) and if you disturb the timers its elimination. Another good reason to be spacially aware and accurate!
  • Consider initially dropping down a class when you first go indoors; if you’ve been jumping BE novice then some solid double clears single phase at Discovery (1m) will be a good starting point until you’ve got your bearings in a smaller space. It will be 1m/1.10m. Your next class up Newcomers (1.10m) will be a meaty 1.10m/1.20m course when single phase. You may find a handy 1.05m A4 to bridge the gap. But don’t underestimate the change in technical intensity.
  • Ride out of your corners
  • Look for your next fence
  • Use your outside leg (it will keep the shoulder controlled and the horse straight with and engaged back end!)
  • Warm up and warm down well (especially as the weather gets chiller)

You’ll learn a lot from BS courses and course builders over winter. Don’t forget there are lots of winter qualifiers that you can add to your fun by aiming for (The Blue chip winter championships in April at Hartpury is a fantastic show)

Leave your tweed jacket and your skull cap at home.. colour, bling and fluff are all embraced in the Showjumping arena! 😉

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