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View Full Version : Help me fix my perpetual 4-faulter...



Haalter
May. 16, 2010, 02:05 PM
Horse is an 9yo warmblood gelding, has a ton of scope, loves to jump, and is a little on the hot side. He is currently doing the 1.20's and it's easy for him - he jumps every jump great...except for the first jump, where he *always* has a rail.

I've tried lots of different things in the schooling area - jumping a dozen jumps, jumping one jump, jumping a big vertical to get a rub, jumping a cooler, jumping a wide oxer, jumping a one-stride...you get the idea. Nothing seems to help. We've tried the long approach and the short approach, the gallop and the lope to the first jump, the deep spot and the long spot and it hasn't made any difference. We've also tried shadow rolls.

We did move him down to the 1m for one class at the last show, and no first rail...but the way he jumps the rest of the course at 1.20, it's not like he doesn't have the ability...in fact, I think he'll comfortably be able to go much bigger.

Oh, and sometimes he has the rail in front, sometimes behind. No apparent rhyme or reason. The rest of the jumps he rarely has even a rub, and he's never stopped.

Anything obvious I'm overlooking?

SkipChange
May. 16, 2010, 02:12 PM
Have you tried a different rider on board to check if its rider error?
I'd put my trainer up for a few classes and see how that went.

Come Shine
May. 16, 2010, 02:18 PM
Have you tried giving him a couple of taps at the in-gate to wake him up? That worked like a charm with one of our old jumpers.

Moocow
May. 16, 2010, 02:57 PM
When you 'get a rub' in the warm-up just before you enter the ring, is it really just a rub or are you punching out the rail? Punching it out may be what he needs instead of just touching it.

woodhillsmanhattan
May. 16, 2010, 03:23 PM
More than likely it's you. Not to sound harsh, but 90% of the time it's true. Put a different pilot on him to see what happens.

Hauwse
May. 16, 2010, 03:31 PM
Given all that you have stated you seem to have broken it down to him being just a little lazy or lacking focus in the ring.

If it was my horse, instead of trying to tune him up before he goes into the ring I would focus on getting him jumping in proper form, and letting him remind himself that it is this proper form that makes his job the easiest.

A very good method of getting a horse to jump in proper form is to school them over something that challenges them.

I would do nothing but trot fences before the class, and by fences I mean "fences". Start off over a cross rail and continue to increase the height and dimension of the fences, this need not be a ton of fences either, good flat work to warm-up and 10-15 fences should be more than enough.

Remember the idea here is not for the horse to wreck or tune himself, it is to get him to focus on his form over a fence.

I have found that with scopey, but unfocused horses that generally once they trot down to a 4' -4'6" square oxer they will generally start trying, and this will carry over to the ring.

As I said the concept is simple, they will have to get on their hind end, they will have to pull their peddles up, they will have to tuck behind and they will have to carry that impulsion through the fence and to the next stride.

This is an old technique of my fathers and it has never failed me as long as I have been using it.

Good Luck!

Haalter
May. 16, 2010, 04:11 PM
Lots of good ideas, thank you! Hauwse, I got very similar advice re: this horse from a trainer I really respect, just haven't been to a show to try it out since I spoke with her. Definitely the next plan we'll try.


More than likely it's you. Not to sound harsh, but 90% of the time it's true. Put a different pilot on him to see what happens.If I'd read the OP rather than posting it, I'd probably be saying the same thing, but...I am not the rider, I am the (retired-from-riding) trainer of a student who leases and shows this horse. I honestly don't think she is the problem. And just to make sure, we have tried another rider, not a pro but a good riding ammy, and had exactly the same issue.

Haalter
May. 16, 2010, 04:14 PM
Given all that you have stated you seem to have broken it down to him being just a little lazy or lacking focus in the ring.
It's funny to say that a "hot" horse is lazy, but I agree with this. Well, more like he gets distracted when he enters the ring, and finds his focus by the second jump.

jse
May. 16, 2010, 04:22 PM
Maybe the rider is a bit nervous and hesitant when entering the ring? That happens to the best of us.

Haalter
May. 16, 2010, 04:30 PM
Except the rider has ridden a number of other horses that go fine over the first jump with her...Really think this is a horse issue vs a rider issue. She may not be helping him out with this issue, but I really don't think she's creating it with nerves or otherwise.

SkipChange
May. 16, 2010, 04:41 PM
Except the rider has ridden a number of other horses that go fine over the first jump with her...Really think this is a horse issue vs a rider issue. She may not be helping him out with this issue, but I really don't think she's creating it with nerves or otherwise.

I'd still say try someone else on board just for kicks. I don't doubt that the rider is competent but could be some sort of mental block with just this particular combination.
ETA: Ok so you did try another rider and it wasn't the problem? good deal. Maybe try the trot fences as others have suggested.

I do agree that it sounds like the horse can't get his focus quick enough. I would try some transitions to sharpen him up right when you get in the ring. Walk in...pick up a canter, halt, canter off again. Test the gas and brakes, as in lengthen stride and shorten before you head off to the first fence.

toomanyponies
May. 16, 2010, 04:52 PM
I second lots of trotting jumps - and work up to quite big. But dont wait for the show - start now!! Trotting big jumps takes practice. . . and some fortitude!

dani0303
May. 16, 2010, 04:54 PM
What about a tap with a stick before the first fence like "hey, wake up!"

NorthFaceFarm
May. 16, 2010, 06:17 PM
Yup, trot some BIG jumps on a loose rein. When they have to figure it out, it tends to stick. I would also really take out a rail just before going in. Not rub it, annihilate it.

CBoylen
May. 16, 2010, 06:55 PM
I am the (retired-from-riding) trainer of a student who leases and shows this horse. I honestly don't think she is the problem.
You know the old adage is that if the first jump comes down it's always the trainer's fault ;).
Go straight from the last schooling jump directly into the ring. You may want to try a walk jump as your last one, if getting a good rail before you go in has not made a difference, then maybe thinking about each leg will make the difference.

Horseymama
May. 16, 2010, 08:04 PM
It sounds like to me that the horse could be thinking back at the rider to the first fence. Then he has a rail, realizes he is on course, starts looking and thinking ahead, and goes on to jump well.

I would free-jump the horse at home, get his mind to activate in front of the jump. It interesting to see what a horse does without a rider. Does he run, slow down, leave long, chip? Get his brain working independent of the rider a little. Then, at a show, I would have the rider, the first couple of jumps, do absolutely nothing. Not a thing. Just steer him to the middle and then bury her hands in the mane and let him do it. This tends to get them thinking! Then you can do that to a little bigger fence somewhere in the middle of the warm-up, too.

*Liz*
May. 16, 2010, 08:19 PM
Have you tried getting up a good gallop before fence 1?

I used to have the same issue with my gelding, jump-1-itis I would call it. I showed this horse up to 4'3, schooled 4'9 courses with no issue at home so it was not a scope issue for sure. Our final solution was to go straight from the last warm-up fence into the ring. Then, trot past anything that needs 'a look,' and then pick up a good forward gallop in the half-seat. Once I got my horse really moving out in front of me and into the bridle I'd sit down, collect to a forward working canter, march down to fence one and really spur off the ground to get that 'umph' need to remind my horse that it was time to go to work. It worked for us.

amt813
May. 17, 2010, 12:50 PM
Back in the day when I showed in the junior jumpers I had a horse that I needed to get focused on his job before I began my course - he wouldn't have a rail - but if he wasn't paying attention to me before starting the course he would potentially stop at the first jump. I used to make him gallop into the ring (which I realize is not allowed now a days, but you could gallop after entering the ring) then pull him up back him up a few steps and then make him gallop and collect. Just to say "hey we are starting here you need to pay attention to me and the task ahead." Once he was focused and a bit "ready" he was great.

I have also seen people who go in the ring and do some canter to counter canter transitions, or trot, canter transitions - again just to get the horses attention on working in the ring and ready to go to the first jump.

I am not saying this is your rider, but I see a lot of inexperienced jumper riders pick up a canter and go to the first jump. I think when a horse walks into a new ring it needs to be reminded to focus on the rider and working, not its new surroundings. Everything that was done in the schooling ring can be lost standing at the ingate or entering a new spooky ring. A lot can be done in the sixty seconds that you have from the buzzer to getting to the first jump (or is it 45 seconds now - its been a while since my time in the jumper ring!). Make sure your rider is utilizing this time to properly prepare her horse for the first jump, and get her horses attention on her and jumping.

Good luck - keep us updated on how things go.