Best of JN: Caitlyn Shiels & True North Stables Clinic

Every week, Jumper Nation will bring you a different clinic to help you and your horse stay fit at home. Here is the first in their series.

Spring is here! Spring brings us many new things, including new beginnings, spring cleaning, and yes, uncertainties. With horse shows across the globe being canceled or postponed due to COVID-19, there is a silver lining. We can use this opportunity to freshen up our education at home, keep our horses (and ourselves) fit, and practice the skills needed for the show ring when we’re able to show again.

Jumper Nation has teamed up with top, respected riders who we love for both their horsemanship and their creativity with exercises they use at home. Each week, we’ll be bringing you a new grid or exercise to try at home. Get ready for Jumper Nation Clinic. You’ll be primed and ready for the show ring when we are able to get out there again!

This week’s featured grid is courtesy of Caitlyn Shiels and True North Stables. 

Diagram by Caitlyn Shiels and Cody Wooten, True North Stables.

This exercise consists of:
  • Cross rail, two ground poles, to another cross rail on the long side of the arena (all set 12′ apart)
  • A forward 5-strides or collecting 6-strides to a set of bounces at the end of the arena (set 12′ apart)
  • Another forward 5-strides or collecting 6-strides to cross rail, two ground poles, cross rail on the other long side of the arena (set 12′ apart)
  • Note the trot rails in the middle of the ring, which are great to warm up and/or come back to if your horse needs a mental break
  • The exercise can be broken down into parts: Only the cross rail lines, only the bounces, etc.

Caitlyn Shiels, who leads True North Stables, states: “I believe, and was taught that basic exercises are actually the hardest homework we can give ourselves working with young horses, [or] experience[d] horses and riders learning basics. Our horses’ programs all vary, depending on what each horse needs for its own personal benefit. I believe that adjusting the program to the horse is more beneficial than adjusting the horse to a set program. We at True North create individuality for our horses and clients. This exercise that we like to utilize works for all levels.  Check it out!”

Assistant trainer Cody Wooten adds: “This exercise is good to set in the ring on weeks off from showing because it allows you to work in parts — you can practice just the bounces, just the cross rail lines, or combine them together in many ways for more advanced work. The nice thing is that this works in a barn like ours, where we have horses at many different levels and allows us to work on things specific to each horse, without having to change the exercise in the ring multiple times, which can be hard to do in a busy barn.”

Caitlyn Shiels on CW Incorporated. Photo by Jump Media.

About True North Stables
True North Stables is a full-service hunter/jumper training program, dedicated to horsemanship and to providing top-class riding and training services to both horse and rider. Led by Caitlyn Shiels and with bases in Illinois and Florida, True North Stables offers highly-individualized instruction, horse acquisition and sales assistance, and the opportunity to excel in the sport and in nationwide competition.

About Caitlyn Shiels
Caitlyn has worked alongside many accomplished equestrians including Andre Dignelli, Jonathan and Christine McCrea, Ken and Emily Smith, McLain Ward, Greg Franklin, and more.  She has had many successes in her career, including being named World Champion Hunter Rider Midwest Region Developing Rider champion in 2016 and a top eight finish in the WCHR Developing Pro Challenge at the Capital Challenge Horse Show – followed by a fourth place the following year.  Most recently, she has finished in the top ten at numerous USHJA International Hunter Derby events and continues to successfully show and bring along her own and clients’ horses, as well as sales horses.

To learn more about True North Stables, click here and be sure to follow True North on Instagram.