Chances are, if you ride with one of our trainers, you’ve done your share of jumping grids. But why? Why do we love to torture you all so?

Jokes and maniacal laughs aside, grid patterns are great training for both you and your horse. (Believe it or not, lots of people even like doing them!)

Grids are helpful for both strength and accuracy. They help with counting and adjusting strides, straightness, flexibility, balance and confidence for both horse and rider. That’s a lot!

Whether your horse is lazy or fast, long- or short-strided, he has to go through the grid with the same distances, so he learns to adjust!

Once they get the idea, grids aren’t hard for most horses—although they may look intimidating at first. So as your horse engages to do his part and figure out the drill, you can focus on improving your own position.

Grid training is like a gymnastics routine or that tire running exercise football players do, honing spacial awareness, suppleness and speed.

Grids force you and your horse to manage distances properly and with elasticity. They also require your horse to jump from behind, as he always should but might not always do.

A horse that launches or pops over fences from his front end is more injury prone and could wear out his knees way faster than a horse that jumps correctly. Also, he won’t be prepared to jump at higher levels because he hasn’t learned how to rock back, balance and do it right—in rear wheel drive.

(Those tight turns they do in Grand Prix show jumping? Yeah…those don’t happen if your horse isn’t balanced. If he isn’t working from behind, he won’t be able to get the two of you out of trouble in a tight spot, either.)

If you have a younger horse or just one that gets bored and checks out easily, grid work helps him to focus. Lots of those busy-brained types of horses truly enjoy the pattern as they really have to gauge it and figure it out for themselves. You can help them, of course, by being a good leader and encouraging and guiding them through, but ultimately the horse has to take responsibility for completing the exercise and learning at his own pace…and that’s great for his confidence and comfort level.

Horses love to play and to feel athletic. They do those things naturally in the wild. Grids are a way for them to channel those desires productively and have fun.

So now that you know all of this, maybe next time we tell you to jump a grid in a lesson, you’ll actually be happy about it! And for those of you who aren’t, just remember that short-term pain is long-term gain. J