Wednesday, December 3, 2014

curious about fence construction

Let's take a moment here to talk about building fences. Not courses - but what the actual fences look like. Feel free to play along even if you don't currently jump! 

What I build at home:

Simple vertical with ground line. Or cross rail. Yep. This is how I do. 

Pros: easy to set up. ain't nobody got time to haul poles all over creation (even if your ground lines are all PVC, it still adds up). maximizes the number of fences built with limited equipment.
Cons: starts to look airy when the height goes up. doesn't expose you to a lot of fill.

What we see in lessons with P:

Poles. So many poles. Everywhere. Ground lines? Yep, how about a few. Oxers? The more the merrier! Poles crossing along the front? Eh, just throw allll the poles in there.

(technically this was a show - but P built the course. so it counts)
there's even a cavaletti thrown in to serve as fill and a front oxer rail

My impression is that this style of fence construction encourages a much rounder jump from the horse. In fact - that purple/green Monsters Inc jump up there is nearly the same dimensions as that rolltop I'm scared of - except it's bigger

It also gives the horses a lot to look at - and can be a little overwhelming at first. But when the horse figures it out, they actually start to get a better read on the fences. 

I know it's deliberate too - bc P is *constantly* moving and resetting fences during our lessons. And she always sets them up like this. 

What we see at shows:

Comparatively closer to what I set up at home - pretty simple, with occasional fill. Lots of flat-faced, upright verticals. Still more poles tho - usually at least two or three along the face of the jump, especially if there's no fill. 

My thoughts? Fill can generally make a fence look more inviting than those airy verticals I set up, *unless* a horse is not used to it. Then it's spooky. I'm starting to believe that P's method for setting fences actually better prepares us for the type of stuff we see at shows. AND it really encourages the right kind of jump from the horse so that we can be clear through our rounds. 

What do you think? In a world with unlimited poles/standards/jump cups/etc (and minions to do the setting for you lol), how would you build fences? Do you prefer very simple fences - or all of the fill? Or a mix of both?

What kind of fences are most educational for the horses? Challenging? Inviting? 


  1. My horse is super aware of every pole and if it moved an inch from last time. Fill is terrifying for her and now for me too after a couple of very dramatic deer leaps that left me on her neck/hanging off the side while she I do lunging over all sorts of scary fill/poles with lots of changes to keep her exposed to all that and get her over it. But, I prefer to jump simple poles for now until we both get more confident with this.

  2. I would be all over the fill and poles and ground lines and so on, but I'm the only one that sets courses the majority of the time, and I'm not hauling all that shit out by myself for myself. We do A LOT of airy verticals lol.

  3. More of everything -- poles, ground lines, gates, brush boxes, planks, all of it! I think replicating what a horse might see at a show is a good route to take at home. The fewer surprises at shows, the better. Ground lines do definitely help the horse to jump more roundly over the jump. They are also great for helping green horses judge the jumps more easily.

  4. Because it's usually just me (and perhaps a minion or two) building courses and setting fences, my jumps are usually simple verticals with a ground line. I also only have maybe 4 sets of standards, a dozen poles, and 6 barrels! In a perfect world, there are rolltops and flower boxes and more poles (and ALL the minions to set fences)!

    I really like Swedish oxers and set them up occasionally- I think they're just fun jumps!

  5. In a perfect world, I would build a mix of airy oxers, verticals with fill, airy verticals and lots of solid walls/coops/rolltops.

  6. I like to mix it up! Airy. Fill. Solid. I love it all!!

  7. Rico will always jump an airy fence but a fence that has ANYTHING under it will freak him out so my vote is always having him jump scary things (but like Carly, I set my own so they're normally boring unless I'm trying). I think it depends on the horse's weakness. In general though- I'd say jump as similar fences to those in your horse shows as you can.

  8. If I'm setting my own, the simple lazy method is where I'm at! Although the last barn I rode at was big on random fillers, some of which were recycled plastic items, ie traffic cones, even plastic garden ornaments like gnomes and things. If I saw some cheap stuff like that that's easy to move/set up/store I might take it to use for fill/despooking

  9. My mare is a fence 'peak/looker" so I want the jumps I practice on to be as weird as possible. Boost up her confidence before a show changes the game up a little. Sign me up for lots of fill.

  10. I like all of my fences to have ground lines. I tend to mix it up, but my barn has lot of solid fill jumps so we tend to do more of that. The hardest jumps for me to jump are square oxers.. hate them!

  11. Wow I never really think about it! We have poles that have duct tape on them and I normally don't add any fill. I really should though! I think fill makes the jump look bigger because I'm not used to it. We are used to flowers underneath though. The local show puts so many flowers....

  12. I like simple fences for at home because I do mostly gymnastics, but when I build courses I add the filler to school the "spookiness".

    Airy verticals are HARD to ride and thus in my opinion, its better to school them. I always use placing poles and guide rails for straightness however.


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