One thing I have noticed about training jumper horses in the US versus training in Europe is we do not train enough on natural jumps. Europeans are putting water jumps in their classes for horses as young as 4. The water starts out very small, maybe 3′ to 4′ in length and as the horse gets older, the water jump becomes longer… over 8′ in length.
At the World Equestrian Games this year, there was a double liverpool combination, one liverpool vertical and an open water jump. After seeing that, it dawned on me that we are doing a poor job of training horses on water. We have a 10′ open water jump at home, but there is nothing in-between to train on. That’s when I decided I needed to do something!
First Things First:
You’ll need to start by building the take-off element. This was constructed with some pressure treated 1×4’s and 2×10’s. First, I cut 6 total right triangles from the 2×10 pieces of wood. Then you’ll need to cut 1×4’s into 6-foot sections. Next put three 1×4’s on the front of the ramp, equally spaced apart, and then supported the other two sides of the triangle with 1×4’s. I used 1.5″ screws to put everything together. Then we painted everything white. The result is two identical 6′ take-off elements. When you put them side by side, you have a 12′ take-off.
The second thing you’ll need to do is find a training water jump. You can make this out of a 12’x12′ tarp, or you can have Dandy Products make one for you! Get a custom quote here: https://www.dandyproducts.net/liverpool. If you want to make your own, one very important piece to remember is to include a white landing tape so the horses have a defined landing spot. You can either paint a 1×4 piece of wood for the landing band and put it at the end of the tarp, or you can buy the real thing here: https://olaf-petersen.com/accessories-water-jump/
Finally, you need to add a simple 12′ white pole just to give the horse the feeling of the jump actually being a jump. We used one of our old poles that had been repainted white and a pair of simple standards.
We started Evelyn over the water jump by making the pole very low and added blue water to about 2′ in length. After she got comfortable with that size, we unrolled the water by 4″. The goal is to keep everything positive. If you roll out the water too quickly, the horse could get nervous and not want to do the job. Never ask your horse to do something they are not comfortable with doing! Also, make sure you throw some regular, easy jumps in-between jumping the water to keep your horse happy and positive. If you just train only on one thing type of obstacle, a horse can start anticipating and get nervous.
By making the take-off ramp and using a tarp, this project will cost you less than $100!