California Riding Magazine • October, 2013

Book & DVD Review
Jump Course Design Manual

Jump Course Design Manual
Written by Susan D. Tinder
Reviewed by Diane Legge

In the preface Susan writes "This book is the resource that I wish I had when I first started to design and set courses." I'm confident any rider who schools at home over fences will have similar thoughts. What you will notice quite quickly is that it offers much more than the typical suggestions for gymnastic lines and grids for jumping. Jump Course Design Manual is complete, the style of writing is concise and the information is clear to understand. You will start at the ground, work your way through heights and disciplines to build an intermediate jumper course.

The content covers eight chapters. The first chapter is geared to help you "Meet Your Training Objectives," and one of the first places to look is at your footing, which is taken very seriously by the writer. Questions are answered, such as, Why does your horse raise its head to a jump?, What poles are easier for a horse to see?, What is a false ground or an illegal fence?

Chapters 2 and 3 discuss distances and what is appropriate for different types of fences. It gives you charts, but seeing the diagram of how the horse's stride goes over a particular type jump, I found very helpful. It will answer the theory behind course design and help you see the questions being asked. You may know how many strides you need between fences but starting to see what the course designer is asking you and your horse is much more beneficial.

Chapters 4 and 5 deal with drawing the course to setting it. You will need a few simple tools for drawing and some time and energy saving tips to setting the course, such as placing poles first making sure the course works before moving standards. Another good tip is how to make sure all related obstacles are square before going any further and how to walk a course.

Chapters 6 and 8 were of special interest because my arena is small. Clearly seeing the different types of jumps, courses set for each discipline from hunters to jumpers will help you practice the right exercises to show with confidence. Finally, you will be given what you need to succeed, the materials, costs, upkeep and a list of vendors from arena footing to jumps.

Everything you would need to design, set your own course and school correctly at home will be found in this book. There are 140 color photos, 132 grids/gymnastic exercises and 242 diagrams to give you endless ideas. The book is a valuable resource and one I highly recommend.

Reviewer Diane Legge lives in Copperopolis, rides hunt seat and has a special fondness for a Thoroughbred named Cassanderly.