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Rebelpaintrider
Sep. 4, 2009, 08:18 AM
This is a completely noob question, I've been riding for quite some time now... I've always found that for the life of me I can never "see" my distances/spots cantering up to jumps... How would one go about learning how to do this? It drives me nuts... I'll jump anything, just scares me and I loose confidence when I mess up the take off...

Any exercises to help? Ground rails don't really do much for me... I've tried...

Also, When find that spot, and per say, you see that it's a stride and a half, how do you ask your horse step up and extend the stride or if needed, take that long spot?

Sorry if none of this makes sense to anyone... I've always had trouble with these two things... :(


-T

WorthTheWait95
Sep. 4, 2009, 08:23 AM
Sorry but ground poles are the way to do it coupled with gymnastics. Also actively looking for a distance is a big mistake. You need to concentrate on riding and maintaining a nice, forward rythm. That's it. Looking for a distance is the one sure fire way for me to miss b/c I start picking and lose my rythm. Try counting "1-2 1-2 1-2" as you canter in time with his stride (some prefer 1-2-3 in time with his foot falls) and maintain that rythm. Just keep doing this over ground rails and some small fences and you'll eventually figure out the rythm you need and the necessary adjustments you need to make. I assume you're working with a trainer? They should be able to set up some gymnastics for you that will help your horse learn to adjust his/her stride as well. Also flatwork is a HUGE component so you have an adjustable horse to work with. Once you're on your rythm and see it coming up a little gappy you should be able to just add a bit of leg to get him to the base by lengthening his stride. The scopey ones will take you there just by softening your arm a bit.

MoonWitch
Sep. 4, 2009, 12:29 PM
I agree with WTW95, but there are some things you can do to "work" your eye and develop your depth perception. First of all, work on counting down "3-2-1 three strides out to small "x's"; then verticals etc.

Find the method that works best for you in seeing a spot. Some trainers say look past the jump, others say look at the base - I can only see mine if I look at the top rail of the fence. Everyone is different so you have to see what works for you.

Once you get comfortable, a soft move of your hand a few inches up the next s/b enough to get them to open their stride. If not, squeeze until they respond. Work on transistions on the flat; sitting trot to extended etc. All to get them to listen to soft cues and respond accordingly.

Cinnybren
Sep. 4, 2009, 12:43 PM
Tim Stockdale has a terriffic quote: "Pace, rythym, line. Gets it right everytime."

So, find a good consistent canter pace, find your rythym (1,2,1,2,1,2) and ride your line straight to the middle of the fence (in other words no wiggly lines or drifting right/left..ride it straight!) ;) I don't "look" for "the spot" either. I find looking at and past the top of the top rail for a verticle and past the top of the top back rail of an oxer, helps me "feel" a distance.

As mentioned, lots of cantering rails can be very helpful in finding that good pace and rythym. :)

jetsmom
Sep. 4, 2009, 12:58 PM
Tim Stockdale has a terriffic quote: "Pace, rythym, line. Gets it right everytime."

So, find a good consistent canter pace, find your rythym (1,2,1,2,1,2) and ride your line straight to the middle of the fence (in other words no wiggly lines or drifting right/left..ride it straight!) ;) I don't "look" for "the spot" either. I find looking at and past the top of the top rail for a verticle and past the top of the top back rail of an oxer, helps me "feel" a distance.

As mentioned, lots of cantering rails can be very helpful in finding that good pace and rythym. :)

Ditto this.

You can also learn to teach your eye to judge distances when you are walking around throughout the day. Use cracks in the sidewalk, changes in flooring (carpet to tile or vice versa), stains on the pavement, etc to try to judge how many strides you are away. Start with something close...say 3 or 4 strides. Try to figure out how many strides away you are if you don't change your stride length. Then try from farther away. It will help you judge distances relative to stride length (yours). The same principle applies to when you are on the horse.

Many times a bad distance is easy to "cover up" if you have good pace/impulsion. Too often people will "pick" if they don't see a distance and end up with no impulsion so you can't adjust the horse. Get a pace/establish a rhythm, and have proper bend around corners and straightness and the distance will usually be there. If you keep getting a bad distance to the same jump, change your turn coming out of the corner. Go deeper or shallower.

Throw poles around the ring randomly and canter over those, saying 1,2, 1,2 and practice on those.

LShipley
Sep. 4, 2009, 12:59 PM
This is something I am working on, as well. My trainer does not have us obsess over finding the "perfect spot", but likes us to have a general idea of where you want to take off. I like what Cinnybren said about "feeling" the distance. That is just enough to help you know going down a line if you need to move up or half halt, or if you need to ask for a long spot.

To get my horse to take a long spot, I sit up super straight (getting ahead here can cause trotting or adding a stride) and use leg.

tidy rabbit
Sep. 4, 2009, 01:03 PM
Or to even make it simplier...

Count your rhythm like a metronome.. 1. 1. 1. 1. 1. 1.

Work on canter control exercises away from any jumps and poles.

On one particularly squirely horse I have, I like to use leg yields before and after the fence to keep his attention on me. Or I might use a rubber band exercise where I go from a medium canter to a collected canter to a medium (4 strides each) and then jump.

The leg yielding really works great to keep him waiting and paying attention, and it may be inperceptible to an on looker but he's paying attention to ME and not trying to make his own bid at the jump so I get to place him for the medium or deep distance. LONG GONE are the days of missed distances. :)

I think for me, it's making a commitment to RIDE a PARTICULAR distance and having the tools to get it done on the horse I'm riding. Simply waiting to see a distance is probably not the best plan for most of us.

evans36
Sep. 4, 2009, 02:10 PM
I have always been terrible at this as well. My first coach used to call me "Chipper." Then, at the age of 27, I got my vision tested and found out I need glasses to see things at a distance! Things have suddenly gotten much easier :)

But when I was growing up with vision deficiency, I learned this way. You have to trust your horse first... that was a hard part for me. I realized I was really trying to do too much of the work for him by "picking" the spot and "telling" him when to leave. You have to let go of that mentality.

To work on this, my trainer would set up lines, and I would work on coming down them with good pace, setting a rhythm, and then jumping and keeping the same rhythm. Count however you need to - I do it 1, 2, 3, etc. But I start as soon as my horse is straight in the line from the curve, even if that's 7 strides out. Counting down from 3 strides out did not work for me because I couldn't tell when 3 strides out was! Counting out loud also helped me to hear the rhythm in my head. I also used to connect it with my breathing. Helped me to think less about the jump and just allow the horse to do the work.

I focus on the top rail of the jump until doing so would cause me to drop my eyes/chin at all. Then I move my focus to beyond the jump. I find that if I rigidly focus on the top rail, I always chip in. Just focus on your rhythm and quality of stride and you'll be fine. Unless your horse is totally green or untrustworthy, you don't need to tell him when to leave beyond keeping your leg on and following him - they know their abilities better than we do, and it's easier for them to jump out of stride than scrambling to push off from one leg.

My coach always used to say that "a jump is just a stride in the air." I had to do a lot of work mentally to focus more on the strides on the flat before and after the jump and less on the hangtime over the fence because I am a bit of a control freak in life. But it really helped my horse too, suddenly he was much calmer and nonchalant about jumping... go figure! I still don't have an awesome eye for distance, but I have learned to let my horse figure out if he needs to leave a little long (which isn't a problem because I haven't been jumping high enough to test his scope), and to stop interfering with him so that he feels the need to leave too close.

equest
Sep. 4, 2009, 02:16 PM
I like the "rhythm, pace, line" quote. My "misses" seem to result from (1) too slow pace, especially coming out of a corner to a line (2) wavering/swerving down a line (3) changing the pace a few strides out (disrupting the rhythm).
So this little saying is quite helpful!

superpony123
Sep. 4, 2009, 03:42 PM
adjustability is key! as is balance, impulsion from behind, and forward motion. ideally, as long as you have all 3, it's even OKAY to miss the spot as long as you've got yourself all set up. (now this is not necessarily okay for a 3'6"-4' oxer yano, but in general) a horse should be able to take off from a shorter or longer spot as long as you're supporting them every step of the way.

for some people counting helps (i prefer in metronome, it keeps me from throwing off my rhythm) or singing.

now, obviously, you want to know what you should be getting in those lines. ask your trainer: is that going to be a quiet six (quiet might mean two different things depending on your trainer: for me, it usually means "waiting" but it can also mean 'steady/normal' for others) or a galloping five? now ride up to your line. keep the horse balanced through your turn and start to think about what this feels like. you can see how close you're getting to the fence. you feel like it might not come perfectly. you may either want to "wait" and come a little deeper to the fence (not burrying though!) or if your horse is very forward and you don't feel you can fit another stride in, go ahead and take the long spot if the jump isnt huge.

sorry, poles and gymnastics really are one of the only other ways to learn to 'see' the distance

TakeNote
Sep. 4, 2009, 04:19 PM
Let the jump come to you. Don't attempt to make a distance out of nothing.

tidy rabbit
Sep. 4, 2009, 05:05 PM
Let the jump come to you. Don't attempt to make a distance out of nothing.


I guess I'm not a good enough rider to take instruction like that and actually put it to use. I need to understand the mechanics of my horse's stride, how to adjust it and how to use my body to influence my horse and where he does or does not take off from.

I can not successfully ride up to a 4'3" jump, or even a cavaletti, just letting the jump come to me. I need to have my horse up, engaged, attentive and allowing me to ride him to the base. If I take that advice and act like a passenger it will result in a miss, a long spot, a rail, unless of course I'm just riding on luck and not any kind of skill, but I don't have that kind of luck so I try to actually pilot my horses to the jumps.

snaffle635
Sep. 4, 2009, 05:36 PM
Lots of good advice already given.

Several years ago, one of my trainers told me 'I can't emphasize enough how much easier it will be to find a good distance when you are straight.'

Well, darn if she wasn't right! That has been the number one thing I've learned to get a nice distance. As others have said, it's pace and line.

I also find looking past the jump helps. I usually look at the arena fence or a tree outside the arena.

Salty
Sep. 4, 2009, 05:52 PM
Lots of great advice here, especially working on adjustability/straightness without jumps, staying straight & counting the tempo. And poles, poles, poles!

I get good results from looking at the jump (or pole) until the horse's neck takes it out of my vision, and then moving my eye beyond it, either to the next pole or jump, or a focal point such as a tree or post, depending on the situation. I look at the top of the fence, except on one little, very scopey horse, where a big-time showjump guy had me look at the base, which works better for him.

tidy rabbit
Sep. 4, 2009, 08:00 PM
...

Several years ago, one of my trainers told me 'I can't emphasize enough how much easier it will be to find a good distance when you are straight.'

Well, darn if she wasn't right!....


And I hope your trainer was able to give you some tools to use on HOW to keep your horse straight?

That's where a real trainer is worth their weight in gold, any Tom, Dick, or Harry, or JoeBlow off the street, can tell you that your horse is crooked, it's the HOW to fix it that is the trick. :)

Luvthespots
Sep. 4, 2009, 11:26 PM
I have always been terrible at this as well. My first coach used to call me "Chipper." Then, at the age of 27, I got my vision tested and found out I need glasses to see things at a distance! Things have suddenly gotten much easier :)

But when I was growing up with vision deficiency, I learned this way. You have to trust your horse first... that was a hard part for me. I realized I was really trying to do too much of the work for him by "picking" the spot and "telling" him when to leave. You have to let go of that mentality.



I experienced something similar. I could never 'see' a spot but I was riding a very good school horse who would adjust himself. It wasn't just that I could not see it. It was that everything that I thought was correct was wrong. I realized I was better off just leaving it to the horse.

I am now taking dressage lessons at a new barn. My instructor was always on me about my horrible geometry and riding off the track. Again, I always thought I turned at the right spot but it was always wrong. Finally one day she decided to give me a bunch of stop here, turn there, change diagonal there instructions. Afterwards she said my distance perception was messed up. What I perceive is not correct. She then stood where she wanted me to turn and I had to walk my horse up to where his nose could touch her. (Brave of her to trust me to not accidentally walk over her.) It seemed like I was turning late everytime. She also took the reins and led the horse to where she wanted him on the rail and asked what I saw. To me it looked like my horse was going with his outside feet outside the arena.

Eventually I learned to adapt to this "wrong" way of going. But, I'm riding on the rail and my scores/comments from the judges have gotten better. (All of this also explains why I was always getting fussed at about not riding to the center of the jump.)

In addition to all the good advice about feeling your distance it might not be a bad idea to have your vision checked and go through a similar type of exercise and make sure that what you perceive you are seeing is correct.

I am planning to start jumping again with my new horse after I am solid on the flat and more comfortable/confident with him. I hope she will do the same type of exercise then and that I can eventually get my visual cues to help me feel the distance.

Good luck to you!

make x it x so
Sep. 4, 2009, 11:54 PM
This is a completely noob question, I've been riding for quite some time now... I've always found that for the life of me I can never "see" my distances/spots cantering up to jumps... How would one go about learning how to do this? It drives me nuts... I'll jump anything, just scares me and I loose confidence when I mess up the take off...

Any exercises to help? Ground rails don't really do much for me... I've tried...

Also, When find that spot, and per say, you see that it's a stride and a half, how do you ask your horse step up and extend the stride or if needed, take that long spot?

Sorry if none of this makes sense to anyone... I've always had trouble with these two things... :(


-T


Once you have a set rhythm that is appropriate for the size jump you are doing, two words are all you need: Look Up.

If you maintain the rhythm and look up, chances are you'll get a perfect or almost perfect spot (assuming the horse doesn't pull you past it or suck back). This seemingly simple lesson has taken me years to learn, and I am still guilty of staring down at the jumps, creating ugly equitation at best, and awkward jumps/chips/runouts at worst.

Seven-up
Sep. 5, 2009, 05:59 AM
Set up an easy 5 stride line that you don't have to push or hold to make. Just 5 strides without you having to do anything. On your last stride to the 2nd jump, notice where you are. Once you can predict where you should be on that last stride, start counting from 2 strides out. "2...1" Then from 3. And so on.

That's pretty simple because the strides are already there for you; you just have to count them.

For a harder exercise, set up a single jump. Then do the exercise all over again. When you see you're on your last stride before takeoff, count "1". Then start counting your last 2 strides, "2,1." Make it a game; see how far out you can correctly count down your strides. You'll have plenty of, "3,2,1,0,0, jump" or 3,2,jump, oops!" But it can help develop your eye.

If you're like me, you may need to make some alterations. For instance, I can't count backwards when I see a distance. I don't know why I'm so "speshul" that I can't say "4,3,2,1" but it just messes me up. So when I see it, I start counting, "1,2,3" or "1,2,3,4" I might count to 3, 4, or 5, but when I start counting, it's because I see the distance. I just can't go backwards, which always drove my trainer nuts.:lol:

Whether to push or hold to a distance and how to do it should come after you can see the distance.

MrWinston
Sep. 5, 2009, 06:49 AM
Many years ago Mike Heneghan told me to count 1 2 3 4 repeatedly. He said, you won't understand why you are doing it at first but eventually you will begin to see groups of four strides. In the mean time it will help keep a rythm to the jumps. Guess what? One day I saw a group of four strides up ahead, then two groups of four, even three eventually. I think you have to be able to judge at least 4 strides out from the jump to be able to compress or lengthen effectively. If you are seeing where you are 3 strides out you are going to chase to the jump or pick to it. Of course balance and the ability to straighten out of a turn are very important as well.

ToTheNines
Sep. 5, 2009, 08:07 AM
I count, 1,2, etc., but I make sure I am counting off the outside hind leg (the canter push leg). Seems to help me to be paying attention to that leg under me. Helps me wait until I'm there. But my horse does not like big distances, and lets me know by swapping in front when the distance is past his comfort level.

JinxyFish313
Sep. 5, 2009, 10:33 AM
If you're asking the question, "How do I get my horse to step up to the distance?", you probably shouldn't be cantering jumps yet.

Sounds like you need a lot more flatwork - learning to extend and collect your horse's stride, keeping the horse up in front of your leg, transitions, etc.

Once you've got solid flatwork the answer to your question will be obvious, and once you've learned to dictate the length, speed and energy of the stride you'll be able to dictate the distance.

I would practice counting your strides (I teach 1-2-3/3-2-1) with ground poles. One specific exercise is to say "1" aloud when you think you are 1 stride away from the pole. Then try "2" when you think you're 2 strides out, and so on. My students think its magic when they say "1" and are a little far away but their body reacts and asks the horse to move up and make that single stride work, or when they're awfully close and somehow make the shorter distance work out.

It is definitely important to "let the obstacle come to you" though, as so many riders, when developing their eye, push slower horses right past their distance or take away so much pace and impulsion from a forward horse that they have nothing left to jump off of.

Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm, count, count, count.

Rebelpaintrider
Sep. 8, 2009, 08:28 AM
I've been riding for 15 years... These past few years I haven't had time to trailer over - I used to be doing 3'3" in lessons when I did one every week, and haven't been able to as much as I'd like, Cantering jumps, ground rails and such were never an issue to me before...

So I make due with what I got...

A huge strike against me is our ring by all means is not big...

I was working a little bit this weekend over a small X rail... attempted to do the 1...2...1...2... I focused more on keeping those numbers steady and for the most part, we got down to a respectful spot.. I noticed myself - a stride away seeing that we would have chipped in BAD so a little leg (ok A LOT this horse is a tank!) and we stepped up a little bit... So far taking a little advice from other posts I'm kind of sort of getting a littler better...

Thanks all... I guess I'll keep working at it...

Go Fish
Sep. 8, 2009, 12:53 PM
I But my horse does not like big distances, and lets me know by swapping in front when the distance is past his comfort level.

That's interesting...

Go Fish
Sep. 8, 2009, 12:56 PM
I've done better since I started riding to the take-off spot, rather than the jump. Takes some practice, but it works for me.

Parker_Rider
Sep. 8, 2009, 01:05 PM
Ditto this.

You can also learn to teach your eye to judge distances when you are walking around throughout the day. Use cracks in the sidewalk, changes in flooring (carpet to tile or vice versa), stains on the pavement, etc to try to judge how many strides you are away. Start with something close...say 3 or 4 strides. Try to figure out how many strides away you are if you don't change your stride length. Then try from farther away. It will help you judge distances relative to stride length (yours). The same principle applies to when you are on the horse.

.

Oh thank God I'm not the only one who does this!! I also do it when riding in the car with telephone poles... counting the "strides" up to it... dear lord.

Second the rhythm/straightness thing. If you allow your stride to change at all up to the jump, there will be no distance for you to adjust to. Ask me how I know.... ;) (I'm learning how to do this and it requires patience. I am not known for patience... ;)) Lo and behold, my trainer is right once again - I hate it when that happens!! :D

Tini Sea Soldier
Sep. 8, 2009, 01:28 PM
Maybe I only got taught this way bc I tend to "dink" to the first jump... but I was always told to go PAST my rhythm and settle into a working canter. I would do this consistently and would somehow almost ALWAYS be able to see my distance to my jump off the corner. If I just established what i "thought" was a good canter to the first jump, I think I probably inevitably picked at my horse and second-guessed it... all the while, missing to the jump... and either lauching (my hunter's preferred take-off) or chipping (my jumper's preferred punishement).

Poles were a waste for me... as my hunter just had no patience for them, and would jump them regardless if we went over them 2x or 20x. He just figured it if was in front of him, he didn't want to touch it.. and would make the effort regardless. Don't get me started about trotting rails.

*jumper*
Sep. 8, 2009, 09:02 PM
Another hint about rhythm: by the time you're on your straight line to the jump, your pace and quality of stride shouldn't change much, if at all. I would always come out of corners and pick or charge at the fence, and could never find a good distance. BUt once I started balancing my horse through the corners (or adding a little leg), I could lock onto my line and allow the distance to shape itself. Sure, you'll often need to compress or extend the stride a little, but the rhythm shouldn't change while on that line.

As for counting, I tend to do the metronome thing, and I always see strides 5 out. Sometimes I'll see a four, but somehow my eye is programmed for 5 strides. (And I count forward...I could never count backwards and get it right haha).

*jumper*
Sep. 8, 2009, 09:05 PM
I've done better since I started riding to the take-off spot, rather than the jump. Takes some practice, but it works for me.

That's really interesting...I think I may even have started doing that, because I've noticed that while jumping my focus isn't so much on the jump as where I want to position my horse. So do you see your spot and then adjust/ride to that?

Seven-up
Sep. 8, 2009, 09:16 PM
(And I count forward...I could never count backwards and get it right haha).


So glad I'm not the only one!:lol:

Go Fish
Sep. 9, 2009, 12:08 AM
That's really interesting...I think I may even have started doing that, because I've noticed that while jumping my focus isn't so much on the jump as where I want to position my horse. So do you see your spot and then adjust/ride to that?

Yes. For some reason, taking focus off the jump and instead focusing on where I want my horse's front feet takes the pressure off. I can't explain it...it just works. I've gotten a whole lot more accurate with this method. I've also quit picking on my horses to the fence. Maybe it's a concentration thing????

JumpingBug
Sep. 9, 2009, 12:20 AM
Unless you have a seeing eye horse (yea they are out there, horses who see it and adjust almost imperceptibly) you will need to develop better feel and quality to your step. distances have less to do with what someone sees and more with the ability to have enough adjustability in the step your riding.

Many trainers do the 5-6-7 in a line of poles to help rider develop feel and adjustably in the step and this helps a person realize what they need to feel to get 5 or 6 or 7 then you build the off the rail and other places so you can predictably be able to judge the length and power to your step.

Many who think they lack a EYE actually lack in feel. You see what you want but when you ask for more you get more step than you may realize or when you see you want to wait you may get a smaller step than you want or hell some horses just shut down the push or even worse (common in lower level horses) the horse just turtles in his neck and rider becomes nervous as distance is coming up to soon as horse did not adjust his step just neck length.

Ride a 10-11-12-13 foot step with the help of a trainer until you can produce the longer one without getting flat and the shorter ones without losing stride push and integrity and be able to do that on demand and you will find your eye is fine because you and your horse have more than one step to choose from. AND no I am not suggesting you ride a hunter on a 10 foot step but you need to play with a horses step length wise to make them supple and more responsive.

Lastly focus on the hind legs leaving the ground and not the front ones. if your in balance very few people get left behind but you can certainly end up in front of the balance by leaning at a jump as well as change the stride length without realizing it!
good luck to you

lintesia
Sep. 9, 2009, 09:50 PM
Many trainers do the 5-6-7 in a line of poles to help rider develop feel and adjustably in the step and this helps a person realize what they need to feel to get 5 or 6 or 7 then you build the off the rail and other places so you can predictably be able to judge the length and power to your step.

I'm doing a lot of work with poles right now, trying to help my eye and establish pace. I think your exercise could really help me, but I don't quite understand it! Can you elaborate please? Thanks!

theblondejumper
Sep. 10, 2009, 12:14 AM
Tim Stockdale has a terriffic quote: "Pace, rythym, line. Gets it right everytime."

So, find a good consistent canter pace, find your rythym (1,2,1,2,1,2) and ride your line straight to the middle of the fence (in other words no wiggly lines or drifting right/left..ride it straight!) ;) I don't "look" for "the spot" either. I find looking at and past the top of the top rail for a verticle and past the top of the top back rail of an oxer, helps me "feel" a distance.

As mentioned, lots of cantering rails can be very helpful in finding that good pace and rythym. :)


Yep this is how I learned it. Working on your pace between the fences really helps you to feel your distances. Less stress.

Void
Sep. 10, 2009, 12:45 AM
I also do this with my car/crosswalks lol


Oh thank God I'm not the only one who does this!! I also do it when riding in the car with telephone poles... counting the "strides" up to it... dear lord.

Second the rhythm/straightness thing. If you allow your stride to change at all up to the jump, there will be no distance for you to adjust to. Ask me how I know.... ;) (I'm learning how to do this and it requires patience. I am not known for patience... ;)) Lo and behold, my trainer is right once again - I hate it when that happens!! :D

Show_hunters
Sep. 10, 2009, 06:17 PM
It's all about rhythm and pace. Ie how what your horses canter feel and sound like?

If you don't have a good rhythmic al canter down then doing a course will be tough.

The best way to learn this is take 4 ground poles and place in a circle (one at each quadrant of the circle). First trot them then canter them. At first it will feel this to be a bit rough b/c your rhythm will off and you will find that the poles will come up fast. But keep working it in both directions. Main thing you need to do as a rider is push the forward to the poles and listen to your horses canter(ie does the canter feel smooth or do feel/hear the leading forefront slapping the ground. When you get good at the circle drill. You should add a small vertical on the side of circle a few strides a way from the circle. So now what you'll do is canter then whole circle once then 2nd time through peel off and ride to jump. But don't change your pace! Does this make sense?

Two other items- find yourself a good ground person or trainer who can help you. Secondly if on course and you don't see you spot or your lost. When in doubt ride forward.

DancingQueen
Sep. 10, 2009, 11:42 PM
Not having read all so at a risk for a repeat here.

Ground rails do work but you have to do a lot of them. Best IMO is to place two rails at 4-6 strides. Start out by cantering the rails in a good rythm and count your strides. If you chip/leave long make adjustments and keep cantering them until you consistantly get the same number and the same spot. Preferably 5. Then change it up by using the sane canter going in and then either moving up for one less or adding up for one more. Keep alternating between the three. 5,4,5,6,5,4,5,6 etc.

I want 5 to be the middle number as it most of the time allows for a comfortable add and leave out. It is also the biggest number I will ask of anybody to see without breaking it down in sections. On top of that the add and leaveout will be even numbers which are easy to start with. If you are not half ways at 2/3 strides you will have to slow down/move up. Even numbers makes it easy to find a middle point.

The key is recognizing your stride and what you can do with it. Perhaps you can do 7 in the same line perhaps eight? Playing around with your horses stirde and your numbers in a set line will get you a feel for his stride and the adjustemnts needed to change it up.

You can then put a single rail on the short end and catner it on a circle. The benefit of the circle is that you do not (and should not) adjust your horses stride but rather float out a little or close the turn a little to make the stride you have fit the distance and find a good spot out of your stride.

The third challenge is to find a good spot out of stride while keeping the rythm. I find a single rail on the long side to be the best way to answere this challenge. Keep your rythm by counting one-two-one-two and challenge yourself to find a good spot with out speeding up or slowing down, simply by lengthening the stride a little in rythm by closing and pressing with your calf early or by staying back a little and squeezing your reins ever so slightly for the add. This exercise can very well be done at different "speeds" as well. Hand gallop or collect just try not to change the rythm of the stride on your approach.

The feel from your horse might very well be different when approcahing a jump. he might speed up a little and make a bid. He might back off a little at somethiung spooky. If you do the jumpers you will most likely look to put him in a spot where he can rock back a little the last stride to compact himself and get up off the ground. If you do the hunters you might want to leave a tiny gap for the second jump to give his front end a chance to shine. If you do the Eq you will want to hit a spot that allows you to shine across the top.
It alld depends on the horse and circumstances.
If you show somewhere where the ring is graded you will want to know that your horses stride gets shorter going uphill and longer going downhill. Jumps set on a slope might also create an optical illusion where you think you will get there sooner on a down slope but might in reality have to wait for the add or opposite for uphill stuff.

When at a show take note not only how the strides between jumps work out but also how you find the jumps out of a corner. Lines set closely to the corner might need you to either really hold out for an even add or to cut the turn a little for the forwards spot. If your horse is ling strided you might want to holdout for the add. If he is short strided you might want to move up out of the turn to gain some momentum.

Also keep in mind where the line is in the course. A first line might ride long but if the same line is the middle or last line in the next course it might then ride a little shorter as your horse has gaiined a little momentum.
If you do a hunter/eq rotation and do the same jumps 6 times in a row he might be stan offish and make them ride longer in the beginning, eat them up in the middle of the show and then get a little tired towards the end and make them ride long again.

It's all in developing a feel for the stride. Practice makes perfect. The suggestions I have given you and probably those others have given you are a practice tool. This is not something you can learn but rather something you develop over time. In the meanwhile, make sure you always look at your jump (give yourself a chance to get beter) and keep a good rythm and your horse will find a good spot. If all else fails, grab mane! LOL

For more experienced riders there's different tricks to a sloppy eye. If you consistantly find a long spot, try riding to the back rail of the oxers or the ground rails to verticals. If your horse has a bad left drift, forget about your eye and try to jump the right standard, that kind off stuff. It doesn't replece training but can be a horseshow tool in a pinch.

Either way, time and practice. Always look at your jumps. When you just flat pick spots on the fence to replace rails and in no time you will realize that you know if you are wrong a stride out at opposed to at the base (you will have time to think shit" and brace yourself). Then 2 strides out (you will have time to hike back on the reins or kick har once then think oh shit and brace yourself for a chocolate chip) Three strides out you can think oh dear, slow down a little and get a caramel chip. 4 strides you go whoa and find a deep spot, five strides and you have Wonkas golden ticket!

A stride is ~12 feet long. 5 strides is 60 feet. If you want to make 5 strides into six you compact each stride with 2 feet and make them 10. You have god flatwork so can do this easily. If you want to make 4 strides you add 3 feet and make them 15 feet. A little harder on a slow poke but still very doable.

IMO anything starting at 12/13 feet can be corrected on 5 strides. A distance over 5 strides is best done in sections. 123 456 for 6, 1234 567 for 7, 1234 5678 for eight. etc. It takes a lot of skill to see strides as their number that far out and it's essentially needless as long as you know not just the number but also how the line will ride.

Sorry for the long lecture, hope you got something out of it.
Cheers

DancingQueen
Sep. 10, 2009, 11:47 PM
#showhunter

I like the circle of death but I think this exercise is better designed for riders who already have a bit of an eye.
It is a fun challenge though and the rails could very well be placed further apart on a larger circle allowing for 5-6 strides inbetween and then moved closer towards the middle for 3 or even two strides. Close them up all the way and try to cut in and try to one stride or even bounce our way around if you want to be really handy!LOL

OneMoreTime
Sep. 11, 2009, 01:47 PM
Ditto this.

You can also learn to teach your eye to judge distances when you are walking around throughout the day. Use cracks in the sidewalk, changes in flooring (carpet to tile or vice versa), stains on the pavement, etc to try to judge how many strides you are away. Start with something close...say 3 or 4 strides. Try to figure out how many strides away you are if you don't change your stride length. Then try from farther away. It will help you judge distances relative to stride length (yours). The same principle applies to when you are on the horse.




Pretty any time I'm in motion (walking, driving, riding in someone else's car, etc.) I'm counting strides (to telephone poles, cracks, ANYTHING). If I'm walking, I try to adjust my stride. I know it sounds odd, but it has REALLY helped me in so many ways.

Show_hunters
Sep. 11, 2009, 07:00 PM
#showhunter

I like the circle of death but I think this exercise is better designed for riders who already have a bit of an eye.
It is a fun challenge though and the rails could very well be placed further apart on a larger circle allowing for 5-6 strides in between and then moved closer towards the middle for 3 or even two strides. Close them up all the way and try to cut in and try to one stride or even bounce our way around if you want to be really handy!LOL

Yes, this drill can be ridden many ways and on many different size of circles. I've done it all sorts of ways as well. I will also agree that its a lot of fun. I, too call it the circle of death and I can recall my trainer ( at the time) said to me. "Well I've never lost one yet through the circle so come get up there and do it".

Overall its really a great tool and can solve many problem for horse and rider. I've seen all types of horses and riders do this drill and yes, on a large circle is easier.

I can also say that there were plenty of times other riders would in the ring missing their spots on course. While I was doing my circle drills and everyone though I was nutzo with a crazy jumper trainer. But when I went out to do my course and got all great spots. They soon became believers and they started working the circle drill.

Imo its a good drill to refocus horse and rider.