Tips From The Top For Blue Chip Show Jumping Success This Winter


Matthew Sampson is no stranger to winning, his two most recent high profile successes recorded at the Horse of the Year Show, where he won the Senior Newcomers Championship with Grame Tame’s 7-year-old gelding V Anubertha and the Young Riders Championship of Great Britain with his own 11-year-old, 15.1hh gelding Chianti Classico.

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Based near Sheffield, 19-year-old Matthew is sponsored by Blue Chip and has a string of 10 horses to compete this winter, so if you’re out and about show jumping at either Arena UK or Bishop Burton, you just might find he’s in the same class as you are!

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Matthew’s ‘Top Tips’ for success may sound straightforward and even a little basic, but that’s precisely because they are…………

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Make sure you give yourself plenty of time on a show day. Especially if you’re only taking one horse, there’s really no excuse for being in a rush – leave enough time to get to the show, make sure you’ve loaded all the right tack before you leave and then give yourself enough time to warm up, but don’t overdo it. Taking a bit more time and avoiding any rushing about can result in a much better performance and as a result, a much more enjoyable day.

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When you warm up in the winter, remember it’s colder and especially if your horse is clipped, it will take a bit longer to warm up his muscles, so get on at least 20 minutes before you go in the ring and start by doing plenty of walking. This will reduce the risk of injury significantly and help you get the best performance from your horse as he will be more relaxed. When you start trotting and cantering, you won’t need to do as much and so your horse won’t tire as quickly.

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Don’t overjump your horse in the collecting ring. For me, roughly 10 practice jumps in total is enough – a cross pole, a few uprights and a spread or two, then give the horse a breather. I would do a couple more practice jumps just before I go in the ring and the last practice fence would be an upright. I do a lot less warming up for a jump off and don’t go any faster into the fences either.

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At home, horses that are competing will be schooled or hacked six days a week and their day off will usually be the day after a show. Flatwork is of massive importance in jumping – only the fences get in the way of flatwork when you jump a round. Suppleness and balance are the keys and remember, if the horse can’t do it on the flat, he certainly won’t be able to do it over a fence. If the horse is naturally balanced, indoor show jumping is easier, but you can improve an unbalanced horse with correct flatwork.

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Jumping at home is minimal and usually just before we go to a show. Sometimes we do little exercises and grids, but often we just jump small courses – around 2ft high is my usual schooling height. It’s about rhythm and technique and using the muscles the horse needs to show jump, without unnecessary wear and tear on him. If a horse doesn’t listen and wait for you, the more you do over little jumps, will help him over the bigger jumps. The horse that ‘tanks off’ needs lots more flatwork and little courses until the correct technique is established.

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Finally, pay attention to the management of your horse when you’re not riding. We’re lucky, as we use our indoor school for turn out, when the horses can play and let off steam, but even when it’s too wet and slippery for turnout in the field, we do graze the horses in hand as grass is a horse’s natural feed. Management is a massive issue with all horses, as if it’s not right, other things won’t be right. All of our horses are fed haylage and Blue Chip Original, which we use all year round, but in the winter it really helps keep that extra bit of condition and their coats always look good, which tells me they are feeling fit and well, ready to go out and show jump successfully.

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