View Full Version : Do you ever call out your horse's strides?

May. 1, 2009, 10:54 AM
I follow Olympian Tim Stockdale's weekly blog and this morning he gave a really good tip that I thought I'd share. He suggests calling your horse's strides out loud, even thought it may seem a bit silly. He says because the horse's legs become your legs while you are riding, it makes you much more aware and helps your brain tune in to what the horse is actually doing underneath you.

Does anyone here ever do that? How has it affected your jumping - and riding in general?
I thought it was a really good suggestion, especially if you have trouble keeping your rhythm into fences.

This is his blog series, for anyone interested. It's superb.

May. 1, 2009, 10:57 AM
I count my strides outloud sometimes but never louder than a low whisper unless my trainer wants me too. It definitely helps me because as I'm counting, I can estimate how many more strides before the jump and adjust to get the right spot.

Hunter Mom
May. 1, 2009, 11:09 AM
We do it on a regular basis in lessons. It helps her know where we're at with "seeing" our striding. I find it really helpful going into a line or to a single because I am forced to think about it way ahead of the fence instead of just the last couple of strides.

May. 1, 2009, 11:43 AM
I do it in my head. I used to just do the traditional counting - as in a number per stride - but my current trainer counts a bit different and it helps SOOOO much. She counts the beats of the canter so each stride is "one-two-three" with the rhythm. As we approach I think "one-two-three", "one-two-three", "one-two-three", ONE, with the ONE being the take off point. Has yet to fail me. She’s a genius!

I find this method helps to be aware of the rhythm and the stride and gets us to settle into a comfortable pace and cadence throughout the course - and helps with consistency-as in you notice a lot more if your counting speeds up. Hope I explained it well enough, it’s a great trick to keep steady, and it settles show nerves.

May. 1, 2009, 01:41 PM
Oh you bet I make my girls count! Especially when they are having "rough" days with spots. I do this early on with beginner students too, just through poles. I make them count strides to the pole (1,2,3) and then once the horse clears the pole (1,2,3) and so on. Then I increase the difficulty for the beginners once they are good at counting 1,2,3 to counting 5 strides out, then 3 strides out.

My advanced students do the same. I also make them count, then add a stride in, and take a stride out. It does help develop your eye. I find it amusing though when the other trainers call it out. I don't count things anymore, I just know. I know coming out of the corner if its a bad spot or not and adjust.

Jim Wofford has a great article in last months' PM about this topic, only he talks about it being a pace and rhythm issue.

May. 1, 2009, 01:44 PM
All the time... even at shows (though under my breath then) As soon as I get straight to a jump you will hear "1...2...3...4...". Without counting, I can't find a spot if it hit me in the head... with counting I get the right one for my pace and stride just about every time.

May. 1, 2009, 02:08 PM
My trainer had me do the most awesomely ridiculously difficult exercise involving counting. And you'd better believe it worked and helped my eye (and I have a pretty good natural eye)

She set up a pole on each diagonal, one more towards the far end of the arena, one towards the near side.

Start cantering, do a figure 8, each pole count "1" stride out. Next time "2" strides out.

I got up to 8 strides out before we quit. SO hard, and so awesome.

May. 1, 2009, 03:30 PM
I always count, in my head at least. I probably mouth the words... heck, I count strides EVERYWHERE, when walking on my own two feet, while driving down the highway, etc. It's almost an OCD thing, I'm afraid...

May. 1, 2009, 05:16 PM
I agree, counting is a great exercise!

Just wondering - Do you count down or up? As in, do you say "1-2-3-4-5" or "5-4-3-2-1"?

I tend to think the latter one makes me want to rush because I want to say "BLAST OFF!" at the end! :eek:

May. 1, 2009, 05:39 PM
I tend to think the latter one makes me want to rush because I want to say "BLAST OFF!" at the end! :eek:

This is the reason I do not count down ;)

(In fact, I don't count normally at all, just 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4 to follow the rhythm- allows the jump to just "happen")

May. 1, 2009, 08:14 PM
i only count them loudly if my trainer asks me to. usually i always whisper them to myself / say them under my breath. or count in my head (which i do if i'm having a great round at a show and decide i need to put a big smile on my face when i'm jumping a line in front of the judge :lol:)

May. 1, 2009, 08:19 PM
All the time. :) Why not, if it helps you?

May. 1, 2009, 09:42 PM
My trainer has us count stides out loud if we are having trouble getting a good distance and it helps a lot. Usually, I just count in my head because I feel more confident when I can "see" the distance better. However, like cnvh, I count my steps and other things too. :)

May. 1, 2009, 09:45 PM
I agree, counting is a great exercise!

Just wondering - Do you count down or up? As in, do you say "1-2-3-4-5" or "5-4-3-2-1"?

I tend to think the latter one makes me want to rush because I want to say "BLAST OFF!" at the end! :eek:

I always count up-- goal is that "3" is my take-off stride. A ways out from the fence, I count "1-2, 1-2, 1-2" until I see my 3.

May. 1, 2009, 10:07 PM
pirateer...we do the exercise SO often...trying seeing how high you can go...i made it to 23 once! i was WAY out of breath but it is so great for your eye! I try to do it a bit on every horse I ride (even if I just go up to like 4 or 5).

May. 1, 2009, 11:17 PM
I counted my strides out loud during a stadium round at a HT and the judge actually commented on " good counting " as it kept us in a very steady pattern the entire way through.

lesson junkie
May. 1, 2009, 11:25 PM
If it's one of those days when I'm totally lost, I sing out loud-talk about feeling silly! "Dixie" and "Row, Row, Row the Boat" are especially helpful.

May. 2, 2009, 12:05 AM
I count strides. I do find that one a horse that rushes, though, it tends to make me want to speed up. One of the best tips I got (thanks Anyplace Farm!!) was to say "stay the same" while going around. Each word represents a stride. On my quick little horse, this did wonders both on course and then on days when he just seemed wild. Anything that makes you sit up and breathe will help you keep a steady pace.

As a side note, I used to count strides while in a car. When I was a kid (since I was the passenger) I would count strides and pretend to jump. Anything would represent a jump (a shadow, telephone pole, etc.) I am not sure how a vehicle has strides, haha, but I made it work. I am glad to say that I have outgrown this (or maybe I just don't have the chance now that I am the driver).

May. 2, 2009, 12:46 AM
omg... ALL OF THE TIME!!!!

I usually think i whisper it so no one hears it, but the other day... my trainer yelled at me because I thought it was windy so no one would hear me, but I said it so loud that you could actually hear it all the way back at the barn! lmao

I count strides even when im not riding. I count when i go over lines while driving, walking and even watching other riders go. It helps my eye be next to perfect! :D

May. 2, 2009, 01:04 AM
Pirateer - I used to do a similar exercise when I was a kid, except it was a single jump back and forth at an angle on a figure eight pattern. If I got to 6 without missing I got a free lesson.

I count up to my jumps. With no specific number in mind. Counting down will tend to make a rider change their rhythm if they aren't going to be right.

May. 2, 2009, 01:22 AM
I love counting! It helps me relax to a fence and feel confident and safe for some reason.. It helps me wait with my body and not rush, My first real event (although this is a h/j group) was last weekend and all on course I would whisper my 3-2-1 strides before the jump :P I can't seem to do it in the fast paced nature of jumper shows though!

May. 2, 2009, 01:29 AM
I always count up-- goal is that "3" is my take-off stride. A ways out from the fence, I count "1-2, 1-2, 1-2" until I see my 3.

HAHA i thought I was the only one! I do the exact same thing and works like a charm.

i can ALWAYS see my spot now. i count in my head out of habit now and only count out loud if im nervous.

At shows into and though combinations you can sometimes here me counting. I used to feel stupid about it, but i have pulled one rail in show jumping in the last 5 years... ithinking about that i dont feel so stupid anymore. lol

May. 2, 2009, 03:16 AM
I have always, since short stirrup, counted, 2...3..up...that's my mom/trainer...and I see it now in her new "trainees" she does the same thing, "2, 3, up" that's how I've always done and will probably always do...even watching it, I count when the rider is approaching the jump, 2, 3, up....

May. 2, 2009, 03:45 AM
I count "1-2, 1-2, 1-2". I was first taught to do it "1-2-3-4" (or "4-3-2-1"), but all of my trainers since then have pointed out that tends to make people rush, because they think (unconsciously) they HAVE to get to that final number, or that they HAVE to jump on that last one. By counting only to 2, my eye "refreshes" and I see the better spot.