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 off, I built the the take-off element. This was constructed with some pressure treated 1x4's and 2x10's. First, I cut 6 total right triangles from the 2x10 pieces of wood. Then, I cut 1x4's into 6 foot sections. I put three 1x4's on the front of the ramp, equally spaced apart, and then supported the other two sides of the triangle with 1x4's. I used 1.5" screws to put everything together. Finally, I 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 I did was 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! You can 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 1x4 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. I used one of our old poles that had been repainted white, and a pair of simple standards.
We started Evelyn over the water jump today. The first thing we did was make the pole very low and brought in the 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 the horse to do something they are not comfortable with doing! Also, make sure you throw some regular, easy jumps in-between jumping the water. This will keep everything happy and positive. If you just train only on one thing, a horse can start anticipating and get nervous. You don't want that!
I hope after reading this blog, you will want to build a water jump, too! By making the take-off ramp and using a tarp, this project will cost you less than $100!