Due to the nature of Michigan winters, I am stuck in a horribly small indoor for many months. It's only big enough to set up one or maybe two jumps. I am desperately trying to improve my jumping position and control after fences and was wondering if you guys had any suggestions.
As of now I'm planning on doing lots of no stirrup work () in hopes of improving my leg and balance. I'm just afraid that with no chance to school courses until spring rolls around I will have made no progress in the "accurately-riding-a-course-without-looking-like-a-fool" department. Any advice will be much appreciated.
Practice your two point. Use ground poles- focus on giving both you and your horse something to do afterwards so you have to ride all the way across the "fence". So, go over the jump, do a transition, or a circle, or some lateral work. No stirrups work is a great idea too : )
I used to board at a barn that the indoor was 60'x90'. For lessons we would set up the jumps sort of in a circle. It taught you to see your distance and adjust (because your distance is different depending on where you jump the jump since it is not a straight line), etc.
I used to board at a farm with an indoor about the size of a small court dressage ring. We did a lot of gymnastics using Blocks & cavaletti. We could set up a line of bounces down the long side(s). Because the indoor was small, we were able to do a whole lot of no-reins stuff with the small bounces. I think my jumping position was better back when I boarded there and spent my winters doing lots of tiny stuff than it has been at any other time
How wide are your jumps? If they are the standard 10 or 12ft rails, saw some of them (or all of them!) down to 8ft or even 6ft! You'll be amazed how much more you can build in a small space with smaller jumps, and by the time you get back to a competition, you'll feel like you have giant, wide fences to jump.
The circle exercise is great fun and easy enough to set up in a small space. Another one is the star exercise. Place 4 jumps in the middle like this (excuse my pathetic attempt at drawing):
(except imagine the bottom one is lined up with the top one). All sorts of things you can do with that. The main exercise (which I learned originally) is to approach one jump, say the bottom one on the right lead. Jump, turn/circle right, jump the right one, turn/circle right, jump the top one, etc. Do it on both leads. Makes you keep a rhythm, pay attention to your line, think fast, and sit still. Good fun (and you can make it easy by just doing rails on the ground and doing it at the trot).
You can set up simple grids and bounces, which will help you work on your position, too.
But, a big help is cutting your rails down. It is shocking how much you can set up with 8ft rails in a small space!
Ditto pretty much everything YB said, especially the star setup. If you use those plastic blocks for the middle, you can jump that too. Skinnier rails and fillers are your friends. Also slightly easier to move!
The indoor at my barn is about the size of a small dressage ring and if you get creative you can actually set up a lot. At one point last winter I had a course of 7 jumps set up. You can also set grids and lines on the diagonal and that will give you a little more room. It definitely teaches you to think and plan your ride to each fence.
It's really hard to duplicate the motion of a jumping horse if you are really working on staying with a horse over fences. The jump has to be big enough for your horse to make the effort to lift it's forehand and push off with the hindquarter, so trotting poles isn't going to do it for your equitation. I think the twopoint work the best for the strengthening, and no stirrups for the core, but to duplicate the jumping position I think you do have to just try and set up the jump in the center or a narrow set of jumps and ... JUMP. The only other thing I would add is to work without reins when it is safe -- relying on your leg and balance -- ane even doing some mini barrel racing or pole bending to duplicate the kind of strength you will need in your core and leg when the horse moves underneath of you. It won't be Up as in jumping -- but side to side -- but may still help you with balance and stickability. Love the suggestions...keep them coming...