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Personal Champ
May. 3, 2010, 12:19 PM
Friend has a nice Appendix mare - nice mover, very good jumper, who gets to be a freight train in the corners while jumping.

She has had the mare for a year and a half, got her as a coming 6 year old who was started as a 2 year old and SAT until just before we bought her. She has spent a lot of time on her flatwork - she used to go very tense and inverted - and has her stretching down and seeking the bit while going quietly in a nice, relaxed frame. Mare is built slightly front end heavy but not downhill.

It has been an experience finding a bit for this one - she is very smart and sensitive. She prefers single jointed bits (was horrid in a french link), had gone the longest and most successfully in a Myler level 2 bit and a Waterford.

She is not looking to jump big or often, but man, the mare gets QUICK in the corner. And leans. In between the fences she can get quick too, but she will listen if asked to come back. Friend does needs to more consciously think to ride straight, bend through the corner, and rebalance, gets flustered expecting the mare to take a corner like she's at Churchill Downs on the oval.

Tips? Hints? Suggestions? Exercises? Equipment changes? Anything?

TIA!:)

mustangsal85
May. 3, 2010, 12:34 PM
I would bet that if you took a picture or video of the horse and rider in the corner, you would see her "motorcycling" the corner, or basically (probably unconsciously) encouraging the Mach 5 through the corner technique. I do it too, it's a hard habit to break!! We are working now on 1) downward transitions BEFORE the corner, not cantering (or in my case it feels like galloping) and 2) STOPPING before the corner. The horse I am on right now tends to take the long spot to jumps and when he does he lands in more or less a heap on the other side and can't rebalance himself. I can't let him run through the corner. I would work on downward transitions and then once he is soft and comes back to her before the corner she can continue. Also, (and I'm just saying this from my experience not saying she is necessarily doing this) make sure that she isn't standing and pulling but is rather sinking down and really using her seat and leg to collect and balance him and not just the bit.

make x it x so
May. 3, 2010, 12:49 PM
Whenever my horse starts to get draggy through the turns, we do the whole "halt on a straight line, back up a few steps, then walk calmly through the corner" thing a few times, until he starts thinking about the halt. Once he's listening, I will ride the first few strides after the jump AS IF I am going to halt, but then continue on at a *quiet* canter through the turn, assuming he came back when I asked him too. I find that practicing this once in a while keeps him from ever getting really heavy.

One important thing to remember is you don't want to make it a really abrupt/harsh halt. You want to halt as smoothly and calmly as possible: jerking on the horse's face and zooming backwards will just make them more tense and more likely to blow through the turn.

Personal Champ
May. 3, 2010, 12:59 PM
Whoops...

Forgot to mention that she has been doing halts/backups straight after the line. No big deal (well it was at first, the mare gets into "mode" and DID NOT WANT TO halt, lol).

When she was halting quietly and reliably, we switched it up to a downward to trot through the corner.

Mustang, good point - I keep telling her to sink down, she likes to get in half seat and the mare does not need any encouragement to go forward/lower. Her horse too can sometimes land in a heap.

Lucassb
May. 3, 2010, 04:53 PM
I don't think I'd start with a bit change. The answer lies in going back to the flatwork.

Lots of heavy duty flatwork, focusing on calm, straight, forward - and obedient. Personally I would do a TON of transitions on this horse both within and between gaits, and I'd aim to get them done with only the amount of leg and hand that I LIKED.

In other words - don't let the horse sucker the rider into kicking and/or pulling.

Start very simply, with simple walk/halt transitions. In the downward transition, the leg stays ON the horse, the rider stretches up in their spine, sinks into the tack and softly closes their hands on the reins, possibly putting a bit more bend in the elbow to back it up if necessary.

If the horse does not halt PROMPTLY (and I mean immediately) the elbows bend more, and the rider raises the hands until they get the desired effect. Then quietly back a few steps, return to the walk and again ask for the halt using the soft aids. Halt a few seconds, walk on, then work on lengthening and shortening within the walk, again coordinating soft hands and leg aids. The trick is to get the horse thinking "what's next?" and listening to the rider. Lather, rinse, repeat at WTC. Then, add a pole on the ground and continue with the same exercises. Once that is no big deal, add another pole to create a "line" ... and continue to school the flatwork. Perhaps throw a few more rails out around the arena so that they are just part of the landscape, and continue doing that WTC until they are no big deal.

Once the horse will go forward and come back softly and correctly while working over the poles, raise one pole to a cross rail or simple tiny vertical. Repeat the flatwork incorporating the same focus on response to soft aids.

Eventually, little by little the poles all become jumps, but the approach stays the same.

It takes a while, but this is the way to get one truly broke, IMO.

Personal Champ
May. 3, 2010, 05:59 PM
Lucassb, we have been doing a ton of transitions. The ones in walk and trot are fantastic, she does it right on cue.

I suspected that downward transitions would be hairy from the canter, and they were. She is getting to the point where she is quiet, but not as immediate as I would like. Different strokes, though. I will pass your posts along to reiterate the importance of an immediate transition.

She does stay quiet over poles, though, thankfully.

I am starting to really think that the racy-ness is a function of the rider. She really lets her to an oval track rather than a true corner after a line, and she is able to get her to halt straight, so I am not sure it is a lack of control.

Any ideas to help her understand that she needs to ride straight, inside leg to wrap around the corner, go straight, rather than the Churchill Downs sweep? I am trying to get her to take a lesson with my really awesome trainer (but that requires shipping out), just trying to give her ideas in the meantime. I was trying to tell her to tell her to sink into the saddle and not let her get tossed to the inside, which of course lets the mare motorcycle on....

Come Shine
May. 3, 2010, 06:33 PM
I remember having to do gymnastics through the corner. Nothing huge but wow did you learn to think!

Fiction
May. 3, 2010, 07:02 PM
Any ideas to help her understand that she needs to ride straight, inside leg to wrap around the corner, go straight, rather than the Churchill Downs sweep? I am trying to get her to take a lesson with my really awesome trainer (but that requires shipping out), just trying to give her ideas in the meantime. I was trying to tell her to tell her to sink into the saddle and not let her get tossed to the inside, which of course lets the mare motorcycle on....

Set up rails on the ground after the jump forming a "tunnel" towards the corner, showing the rider to go in a straight line, and then use the rails to create an almost 90 degree angle through the turn.
Have her go through the tunnel at the walk, then the trot, and then the canter, telling her to stay within the rails through the turn. If she continues to hop over the rail, I'd suggest using jump blocks to bring them off the ground, giving them more "meaning" to the rider.
Or, if you're brave, and really want to send a message to the rider, stand on the inside track of the corner and tell her to go around you. I'm willing to bet she won't run you over.

Personal Champ
May. 3, 2010, 07:58 PM
LOL, I have done the Human Cone. HAHA :lol:

So tonight I rode my mare with her. Lately she has been letting her go long and low, little contact so long as she stayed quiet. Mare has mastered this. Tonight I suggested that she really take some feel and make her work through the corner, rather than coast through it. She also did lots of downward transitions. The mare fussed a bit and her head came up, but man, were her corners nice. She had 4 beautiful corners at all gaits. Even at the canter - although she was worse (faster) going to the left.

However, her downward transitions from the canter still need work. They were ok on the flat, but she really has to sit up and close her elbow angle (thanks Lucassb!). But she seriously likes to pull her out of the saddle when she doesn't want to come back. And she is having a hard time not getting pulled out of the tack. Suggestions?

Lucassb
May. 3, 2010, 10:29 PM
LOL, I have done the Human Cone. HAHA :lol:

So tonight I rode my mare with her. Lately she has been letting her go long and low, little contact so long as she stayed quiet. Mare has mastered this. Tonight I suggested that she really take some feel and make her work through the corner, rather than coast through it. She also did lots of downward transitions. The mare fussed a bit and her head came up, but man, were her corners nice. She had 4 beautiful corners at all gaits. Even at the canter - although she was worse (faster) going to the left.

However, her downward transitions from the canter still need work. They were ok on the flat, but she really has to sit up and close her elbow angle (thanks Lucassb!). But she seriously likes to pull her out of the saddle when she doesn't want to come back. And she is having a hard time not getting pulled out of the tack. Suggestions?

Relentless patience, legs strong with a deep heel and if necessary, pushed slightly forward, while the hands are raised and the elbows bent. If the horse doesn't stop and give, raise the hands further and continue to bend the elbows...and back the horse, quietly and unemotionally. The rider needs to do this without trying to lean back and muscle the horse - it has to come from a strong, supple position, not a pulling match.

mvp
May. 3, 2010, 10:58 PM
If the mare seems to know to wait at all three gaits and over poles, yet still careens around corners, I think you have a combination of problems.

The rider is coasting (not riding) and leaning through the corners. The quiet halt can help. Everything will get better if the mare lands and starts thinking that she might be asked to do something that requires her hind end. The thinking part is half the battle.

The mare's "hairy" transitions down from the canter says weakness to me. This transition is harder for them than we think. Give her time, but keep going to the gym. And to be fair to the horse. Are you sure she isn't building pace and already starting to fall on her forehand in the line? The cure is the same-- she needs to expect a half halt from her rider and be strong enough to come back-- but it means that eventually you'll want to be able to do one of these when you land in a line or in the middle of a very long one. In other words, the corners may be a symptom of something that started earlier.

Whether you are jumping or not, you can also shine up this mare's leg-yields to help with your problem. Do them at the trot first. You can do them at the canter, too. On course, you can use them to create a wider turn without using your hand. You can get more engagement from the inside hind without going faster. This means she'll get stronger with the inside hind which is what she needs to be able to land, rebalance and keep a quiet lope around the turn.

Personal Champ
May. 4, 2010, 08:26 AM
mvp - yes! I told her today that I am no expert, but that she is being a passenger, NOT a rider. The mare needs to be told what to do - left to her own devices is not working for her, obviously.

She can build pace through the line - not always - so I can see how that is an issue. Of course, the faster she is in a line, the worse the corner.

Conformationally, the rider is short legged, tall body, with a right leg weakness and seriously tight achilles tendons which make it hard to sink into her heel. Mare is, of course, wide - rider has a hard time sinking through the heel and wrapping her leg around the mare to sit up and deep. Thank god I am blessed with freakishly long legs!!!

Lucassb - I told her tonite that she will never be able to outpull the mare, she needs to be strong. And unemotional - they don't do things just to piss us off!

Any more suggestions for "gym" work for the mare? She will leg yield well at the walk and pretty good at the trot, never tried it at the canter that I know of.

Lucassb
May. 4, 2010, 08:45 AM
Lucassb - I told her tonite that she will never be able to outpull the mare, she needs to be strong. And unemotional - they don't do things just to piss us off!

Any more suggestions for "gym" work for the mare? She will leg yield well at the walk and pretty good at the trot, never tried it at the canter that I know of.

MVP makes some great points.

Additional work at the gym? Haunches in/out, shoulder in, spirals in and out, counterbent on the way in and true bend to spiral out, hill work, and cavaletti.

Oh - and one more thing. Make sure the rider has enough pace coming IN to those lines. It sounds counterintuitive - when the rider worries about the horse getting strong, a lot of times they want to canter in a bit below the pace. This can *create* exactly the scenario the rider is trying to avoid... especially in a horse that needs to generate a little power off the ground. (This is not a scope issue with the horse, btw, it is related to their internal jumping mechanism and style.) She might find that if she swallows hard and canters right up to that first jump with a little more than she thinks she needs or wants... the horse may canter out a lot softer.

Have fun!

rileyt
May. 4, 2010, 08:59 AM
This is almost always a balance issue, and Lucassb is dead on that the fix is in flatwork... not a bit change.

There are two possibilities that immediately leap to mind:

1) At the canter, the horse is not strong enough to maintain her balance, and so she motorcycles through the corner because she's losing her balance, and ends up coming out faster than she went in; or
2) Either because the mare LIKES to go faster, or the rider is sending bad signals inadvertantly URGING the mare to go faster, the horse is taking advantage of the corner, throwing her shoulder deliberately to gain control, and then proceeding at her pace of choice.

Either way, the fix is the same: build balance and strength at the canter so that she can hold herself upright.

The best exercise for this, is repeated trot-canter-trot transitions. The key is the transition itself, both upwards and downwards, and maintaining a "good" (i.e., almost dressage-y) canter for only 2, 3, or 4 strides in between. The transition itself is what requires the most effort, and thus has the most beneficial value. Once the horse is cantering, a fit horse can canter (improperly on its forehand) for a long time without a lot of effort.

Another good exercise is spiraling in and out on a circle at the canter. By making smaller circles, you force the horse to rock back and use her hocks. I suspect that this is what she's avoiding -- probably in part due to her conformation. But unless she's truly conformationally comprimised, she should be able to do a correct corner at a canter... but it requires hard work on the part of horse and rider.

rileyt
May. 4, 2010, 09:02 AM
Any more suggestions for "gym" work for the mare? She will leg yield well at the walk and pretty good at the trot, never tried it at the canter that I know of.

One other thought... If she's ready, SHOULDER-IN is the best "gym" work for the mare. It is infinitely better for her than leg yielding, because it really requires her to engage her inside hind leg (whereas leg-yielding does not). That is the same leg she needs to engage to lift her shoulders at the canter and stop motorcycling around. It also requires the rider to understand her contact with the outside rein -- which is another essential component to riding in balance.

foursocks
May. 4, 2010, 09:12 AM
Great ideas, here- I would add that lack of balance is often correlated to strength issues. So, more intensive flatwork to build the hind end will help, too. What is possibly happening is that the horse lands hard/in a heap and then stretches out and scrambles to regain her balance. Making her stronger and concentrating on helping her re-balance will help if this is part of the problem.

Also, you might want to suggest that your friend pay more attention to her outside rein (in concert with inside leg)- it should help her keep the horse on the line she wants, providing both a rebalancing aid and a guiding aid.

JumpWithPanache
May. 4, 2010, 09:29 AM
Lucassb and mvp have described the approach that works best with my mare who also likes to motorcycle around when jumping. I've come to the conclussion that she does so when she is out of shape. For example, at the end of last season with a TON of flatwork (read: dressage) under our belts she was making much smoother and more prompt downward transitions from cantering, staying balanced and rhythmic down the line, and ditto around the corner. Fast forward to coming back off an injury and we're back to dull transitions and freight train-ing around the corner. My solution is to ride in her usual snaffle most of the time and occassionally put on a short shank Pelham. Mare wants to get hot and bothered when I put my leg on but half halt to ask for her to step under at the canter (walk and trot are no problem). Once the light bulb turns back on and she remembers that she's supposed to use more energy but less length to canter then we switch back to the snaffle and continue with the same work. When jumping we always add in the lines , especially since she has an easy twelve-foot stride. Adding requires that she stays slower, rhythmic, and much more engaged in the back end. Also helps to avoid landing in a heap since she's having to rock back for the take-off (we're schooling over 2' stuff, so they're just speedbumps). The first few lines are halted on a straight line to reinforce the stay balanced concept as initiated by adding a stride. After three jump schools (since coming off the injury and 45 days of flatwork) I can feel her understanding the concept of land and stay balanced but can also tell when she's too tired to do it right. Once her muscles get to the point that they can't maintain more than three or four strides of self-balance then we know it's time to quit.

Long story short: My experience is that sloppy downward transitions from canter and quickness while cantering and jumping is fundamentally due to a lack of hind-end strength.

mvp
May. 4, 2010, 09:37 AM
About the "riding" part.

So the rider has problems. The answer for the mare is "Too damned bad." Really, these animals can be taught any set of aids we wish. Yes, the rider should do what she can to fix her end of things. The leaning is hard for a horse to cope with, but the mare can be taught.

Lots of this is about getting the horse broke in the mind. If she's sure she has to listen to her rider, no matter what, she'll be an easier ride.

When you think about teaching this rider, you do have to spend time on her position. But you will serve your horse and human students well if you also get your rider to think about getting her mare to be responsive even if she doesn't deliver a perfect ride.

In some sense, your long legs and better riding work against you when you are making a horse for someone else. You may need to teach the mare what you want and then imitate the way your student will ask for the same. This will help the mare "translate" between riders as she must because your student can't become you!

3DogNight
May. 4, 2010, 10:07 AM
I sometimes experience the problem OP has described with my mare. She is one that needs to be ridden every step of the way while jumping, as she can become quite exuberant. She is a TB, who is wonderful on the flat, but when put to a jump, you can see a switch turn on in her head, sort of like 'finally, some fun, let's GO'. When ridden correctly, she can be spectacular. In our case, problems arise when I am not setting her up properly to negotiate the corner. She is very well schooled on the flat - we consistently work on upward and downward transitions at all gaits, turn on the forehand/haunches, shoulder-ins, leg yields, spirals in and out, etc. with great success.

When jumping, she is very adjustable throughout the course, IF I set her up correctly. When I lapse for a moment in my riding, and expect her to carry me, we will begin to get 'rushy' in the corners. For her, it is all about ME keeping her balanced, with her shoulders over her feet, as opposed to leaning in and 'motorcycling' or 'two wheeling', as my trainer calls it, around the corners. When not properly balanced, she tends to rush the corner in an effort to 'dig' herself out of it due to her lack of balance. When I ride her correctly, with an outside supporting leg and rein and an inside leg/indirect rein to create the bend, keeping MY body upright and not leaning in with my shoulders back and square, she is wonderful through the turn. Again, if I'm not riding every step, it will show.

I guess the short of it is that balance, of both horse and rider, is an integral part in creating a successful, flowing course.

Personal Champ
May. 4, 2010, 10:24 AM
Man, you guys are great. I was never looking to teach but this rider just kind of found me. We are both a work in progress, it is hard for me because I can do what I am trying to explain to her, but when I personally ride I don't have to think about it, so I sometimes find it hard to describe - does that even make sense? :lol:

Mvp - I keep telling her that I can ride the mare, but that is not going to help HER ride the mare. The rider is concerned about being "mean" to the mare - I keep telling her that demanding/expecting simple obedience is not mean!

Lucassb - she DOES like to creep in, which of course causes the stick-of-dynamite launch. We have been working hard on consistant forward pace.

Last night, the rider kept saying "I feel like I am on a dressage horse", especially at the trot. I told her that is the feeling of the mare actually WORKING for a change, not her just cruising around.

Outside rein is definitely a challenge. I tell her to push from the inside into the outside hand, but her entire foundation was bulit with a trainer who told them all to ride with low hands to "stay out of their face".

I think it is more hard mentally for her to micro-manage every aspect of this mare's ride.

Rockfish
May. 4, 2010, 10:24 AM
My horse is a bit of the train in the corners, so what my trainer does is in lessons, after we jump a line, do a circle in the corner. The circle slows him down. While free riding we do a circle in each corner while cantering. It gets him to lighten up a lot. We've done it so much that during course work, he anticipates circling in the corner and automatically lightens.....we don't even need to circle during practice too much any more. It's a little exercise my trainer picked up while working with Pam Baker.

mvp
May. 4, 2010, 11:15 AM
On dressaging, different riders and all.

Yes, it makes sense that you can't figure out how to teach a less talented rider! Most people who get as good as you are and stay in it do that precisely because they have talent. Y'all don't know how to put into words for the rest of us the feel, timing, body awareness and athleticism that you just have.

You can reassure your rider of this-- Yes, it will feel like micromanaging for a while. But several things will happen over time.

If she keeps improving her timing and feel, the details won't require so much thought. In other words, she *will* get what you have, sooner or later.

Her standards will go up and she'll appreciate the feel of a balanced horse and won't want to settle for less. The rushing corners are just an obvious symptom. That's what the other "do your flatwork" posters are talking about.

Her mare will also eventually take *less* micromanaging. This will happen partly because you guys build the strength she needs. It will also happen if you start leaving her alone when she's approximately correct and diligently rearranging her body every time she is not. The best trained horses learn to look for those moments when we aren't firing requests at them. They get involved in learning what we want and maintaining it because life gets so much simpler when they do.

In HunterWorld, we see the end result of that or people making it look like their horses have arrived at that level of training. That's why we reward the minimalist ride. But it takes scrupulous work at home to really produce a horse that is seeking the right balance and pace on his own.

If your rider can understand the long term project she's in, that she absolutely *can* get there with time and work, I think she'll be happy with it.