RAF Waddington Equestrians go jumping… and then some!

On the 1st of March 2017 4 riders from RAF Waddington & Digby Saddle Club; Flt Lt Kirsty Harding, Plt Off Harriet Lockley, FS Keeley Skinner and Cpl Hayley Walton attended a show jumping clinic hosted by RAF Cranwell SC; their aim being to hone their jumping prowess and develop rider confidence.

In addition it served to dust off some cobwebs prior to the Inter-Station League (ISL) season due to commence in May. RAF stations across the UK compete against each other in both dressage and show jumping phases for a place in the final and a chance to win the ISL trophy. Members of a station’s saddle club that can walk/trot/canter and jump are eligible to compete in the ISL and it serves as a fantastic introduction for those wanting to get into the competitive aspect of riding.
Jumping can seem a scarier notion than it actually is but rider confidence can benefit from preparation. In order to build confidence towards the fence, riders started on foot, and took time to learn how to walk a set course as opposed to just aiming, jumping and hoping for the best! This emphasised to everyone the importance of being set in direction and time in order to allow both rider and horse to navigate their way to the next jump. Once the steeds were ready for the afternoon the initial exercises began. These involved poles on the ground which allowed riders to regulate the horse’s movement on approach by maintaining, shortening or lengthening their stride – skills to put into practice later when jumping began.

Starting with cross poles as warm-up fences allowed both rider and horse to put the previous ground pole work into practice. Focusing on the rhythm of the horse during the approaches enabled riders to be better prepared to tackle more challenging jumps.

With the cross poles mastered across the group it was time to move onto riding a course in full. 12 jumps were set up that had variations of both cross poles and oxers (or upright poles that sit horizontally at height) as well as various setups of single, double jumps and a related distance (2 jumps constructed at a set number of horse strides away from each other).

Errors encountered first time round the course resulted in an insightful learning experience for the riders. By the second and third time around everyone had grown in confidence and tackled the course in a manner that allowed lessons learnt earlier in the day to be applied.

Huge improvements were made by all and even those that had very limited jumping experience completed the course by the end of the session.

Cpl Chris Newstead

The RAF Waddington/Digby Saddle Club run regular events and plan to hold similar clinics in the future. Please keep a look out on our MOSS site or Facebook page for future events.

We have something for everyone to help individuals both kick-start and advance their riding where they can put their skills into practice and take part in the Inter-Station League competitions.

If you would like to find out more you can email
WAD-EquestrianClub@mod.uk for more details.

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