Jun 29, 2020

How to Show Jump Clear at a Long Format Event with Doug Payne

By Claire Kelley - USEA Staff
KTB Creative Photo.

In 2019, Doug Payne completed eight CCI*-L events on four different horses, and every time he jumped clear in the show jumping. This fault-free record resulted in a fifth-place finish with Vandiver at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*-L, a team gold medal and individual fourth-place finish with Starr Witness at the 2019 Pan American Games CCI3*-L, a second-place finish with Baymax at Virginia Horse Trials CCI2*-L, and a win with Starr Witness at Jersey Fresh International CCI3*-L. Payne has also competed up to the Grand Prix level in show jumping, notably collecting a win with Quintessence in the $100,000 HITS Ocala Grand Prix in February 2020. Whether it’s at a jumper show, a short format event, a CCI*-L event, or a USEA Classic Series Event, the Grand Prix winner and five-star eventer has mastered the art of show jumping.

Sharing the same schedule as a CCI*-L event, a USEA Classic Series Event will have show jumping on the final day. In preparation for these types of long format events, Payne emphasized the importance of long walks with the horses. “We do a lot of walking in the lead up to any long format event. I think this is tremendously helpful in their recovery.”

USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

There are many differences between a long format and a short format event, but one thing that should remain the same is how the horse feels in the show jump ring. Payne explained, “If they are truly in shape, they shouldn’t feel vastly different. They may be slightly less reactive and energetic – so plan to make your warm-up short and sweet.”

Long format events require proper preparation with a good conditioning schedule, and Payne explained, “If they are feeling tired, I don’t think they are fit enough. Make sure your preparation is adequate, if not learn from it. Make sure to document your training plan so you can alter it in the future. If you find yourself on a tired horse, then keep your warmup to a minimum. I would use a medium to large trot vertical as your first couple of jumps to make sure they are backed off and remain in a good balance. Generally, I only jump 10 to 15 [jumps in warm-up] at the very most! Go in with a plan, and stick to it."

Oftentimes show jumping comes before cross-county in a short format event, but the opposite occurs in a long format event. However, there is only one minor change in Payne’s warm-up routine at a long format event. “The only small tweak might be with a very bold, not crazy careful horse headed into the third day. Often you have a chance to jump in the morning before. I might set up a small gymnastic exercise to trot into. This will encourage them to back off and use a rounder shape over the fence. It also will allow for you to jump far fewer [jumps] just before your round.”

USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

So, what can be done the night before show jumping after they’ve completed cross-country? Payne advised, “Long hand walks and grazing. The more they move, the better they’ll be!”

Payne ended with three general tips on how to ride a clean show jumping round at any event.

  • Tip #1: “Use local jumper shows. In a week you could jump nearly a full season’s worth of rounds. You need to become very familiar with your horse’s tendencies. Jumper shows will reduce the pressure and allow you to try new things. Some will work and some won’t, but you’ll go into the ring with a much more solid plan.”
  • Tip #2: “Jump with open front boots all of the time. It comes down to the safety of you and your horse, they have to feel it if they hit rails.”
  • Tip #3: “Remain in balance, in general slow down. Use an efficient track to ensure you can make the time allowed.”
Erin Gilmore Photo.

Please note the emphasis Payne put on a horse’s preparation and conditioning leading up to an event. Several helpful resources on conditioning for a USEA Classic Series Event can be found below:

About the USEA Classic Series

The USEA Classic Series keeps the spirit of the classic long ­format three­-day events alive for Beginner Novice through the Preliminary levels. Competitors can experience the rush of endurance day, including roads and tracks, steeplechase, the vet box, and cross­-country, as well as participate in formal veterinary inspections and educational activities with experts on the ins and outs of competing in a long ­format three-­day event. Riders who compete in a USEA Classic Series event during the year will have the chance to win a variety of prizes at the events from USEA sponsors. Click here to learn more about the USEA Classic Series.

The USEA would like to thank Bates Saddles, C4 Belts, FLAIR, FITS, SmartPak Equine, Parker Equine Insurance, and Stackhouse & Ellis Saddles for sponsoring the USEA Classic Series.

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