Distances For Jumps And Trotting Poles
Taken from the BHS 'Manual of Horsemanship', here are the distances they quote to be used between elements of a double, treble or combination:
Approach in Canter:
Bounce 10 - 12' 11 - 14'
One Stride 21 - 24' 24 - 26.5'
Two strides 31 - 34’ 34 - 36'
Approach in Trot:
Between jumps 1 and 2:
Bounce 9 - 10' 9 - 11'
One stride 16 - 18' 18'
Two Strides 30’ 30 - 32'
Between jumps 2 and 3:
One Stride 19 - 21' 21'
Between jumps 3 and 4:
One stride 20 - 22' 22 - 24'
Trotting pole distances:
Pony 4 - 4.5'
Horse 4.5 - 4.75'
Trot approach : 9' from base of fence
Canter approach : 18 - 20' from base of fence
Average stride lengths:
Trot 3.25 - 4.75' 4.5 - 5'
Canter varies by size 9 - 12'
The larger pony distances will be about right for a 14.2hh, the smaller for smaller ponies!
If your horse/pony is struggling to make the distances they probably have a shorter stride than average, so you should bring the jumps/poles closer by about 6" at a time to see how he manages. If he's getting too close to the fence, move them further apart by 6" at a time until he jumps them comfortably.
To work out distances without using a tape measure, you can use your foot/boot and pace length. The length of your boot is approx 1', so four and a half "boots" is about 4.5' which is average trotting pole distance for both horses and ponies. And an average (man's!) pace is approx 3', hence 8 paces for a 24' (one stride) double.
If you're going to be doing any amount of jumping and walking courses, it's worth measuring your stride and working out how big (elongated?!) a pace of yours equals 3'. Then you know that 4 paces = 12' = one canter stride (average). This lets you measure out combinations etc without too much hassle.
If you do some gridwork with your horse and work out the distances he is comfortable with, you can tell if you will have to shorten/lengthen/do nothing to his stride for a double set for an average 24' = one stride.
To try and explain how the distances work (in canter, at least): I think it was Reiner Klimke who said that a jump is just an elevated canter stride, so you can count on a jump arc as taking about 12', and each stride in between as taking 12' also. The ideal take off point is between one and 1.5 times the jump height away from its base, eg 3 - 4.5' from a 3' jump. So if you take off 3' from the jump, I guess you land 9' from it. Add 12' stride and 3' take off point for the next element, and hey presto! you get the 24' distance for a one stride double!
In combinations approached in trot, you land shorter over the first element; the horse will then tend to take a canter stride, hence the smaller distance for a one stride double approached in trot. Because he is now in canter, if there is a third jump he will need a greater distance from fence 2 to 3, which is why the distances in the table get bigger each time you add an element, up to normal canter stride distances.
Taken From CEE