Grand Prix/top jumper riders what are your training exercises for your top horse(s)?
I'm looking for the full run down. Flat work and jumping exercises and your tips/tricks (get the horse more ridable, better jumping form for the horse, different bits, other tack etc.). I'm only asking because I curious and I want to learn more.
I am NOT a grand prix rider.....I am hardly even a cavaletti rider. But I have been lucky to hang around and observe some top riders at shows and at home, so I will try to give you a rough idea.
Flatwork is the basis for everything. Besides simply providing the physical fitness needed, it is all about "installing buttons"...that is, developing responsiveness to the rider's aids. Because if a horse won't move forward/back/left etc when the rider puts on the leg trotting around the ring at home, he probably isn't going to magically do it on course at the show. So they do lots of transitions between and within gaits (the horse must go forward and come back in a balanced manner immediately when asked). They do lots of bending and lateral work. Basically, every step they do is purposeful and productive.
As for jumping, a lot will depend on the horse - whether it is young and learning, or more seasoned. Also, whether it is the type that needs to jump a lot for some reason, or one that is better to go very fresh to the ring. Plus, most horses need to jump less at home the more they show, so earlier in a new season there tends to be more homework than later.
What I can tell you is that they do not do much course work at height outside of the show. That is largely just at the start of a new season or in the off weeks before bigger shows, to make sure everything is in working order. They do not practice "jump offs" . Otherwise, jump schools tend to be a matter of working through gymnastic exercises. Sometimes they set something up and basically ride the whole barn through it, other times it is tailored for a certain horse.
They will often do a lot of cavaletti or small jumps at home. This keeps the jumping muscles fit, and allows them to work on any problems with approaches and landings without the stress of bigger jumps.
As for bits and equipment, it will vary a lot based on who you look at. Most will do their flatwork in some sort of straightforward snaffle, save the big bits (if needed) for the show ring. Some use other equipment (draw reins, gouges, etc.). Whether you are in the camp that thinks they are gimmicky, or are all for it, just remember, whatever help they are using in front, they are probably using enough leg to back it right up
Which brings me the point that these riders legs and brains are always on, wnd therefore there horses are always "on" as well...forward, straight. Next time you are at a show go to the warmup ring and look for two riders walking around having casual conversation. It may look like they aren't paying attention, but then observe ther hores. They are forward, hind legs land in front footsteps, they are on the bit. The riders just do this by instinct