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View Full Version : Tips for riding smoother courses



enjoytheride
May. 30, 2010, 03:57 PM
I'm mostly an eventer but I thought I'd ask some HJ advice on improving my courses at shows. I'm eventing at about starter level which is anywhere from crossrails to 2' 3" oxers depending on where you go. This place goes out of their way to make the fences as easy as possible (lovely facility).

I thought the course was a bit twisty.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yP1tQ1SmrYo

Here is a show I did the week before, same level! I did more trotting here and you can't see the course as easily.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zogyvya4yVQ&feature=related

fourmares
May. 31, 2010, 01:01 AM
I have dial up, so I didn't watch the videos.... but I can suggest that you make sure that you use the corners. If a line goes down one side of the arena draw a line from one rail to the other and ride it... have a plan... and don't forget that the majority of a course is flat work. Get the bend, inside leg to outside hand, keep a rhythm.

findeight
May. 31, 2010, 10:07 AM
For the sake of those who will be sneaking a peek from work Tuesday morning after the holiday or even today?? TURN OFF THE MUSIC on the first one and that awful wind noise on the second. Kind of a surprise if you are not expecting that kind of volume.

Ummm...just a few thoughts...and I really think you have alot of potential and overall, your position is good, the horse willing and able to move up to some real fences. If you were not basically good? I would just skip this one. Take this as constructive and giving you some direction for your work at home to fix some of this. Part of advancing is knowing where you need more work. And I may be critical but it is all stuff that CAN be fixed.

You have a few basic problems here. Hate to harp on flatwork but this is a good example of where enormous benefit can come from doing more of it. You need to work on adjustability and more willingness on the part of your horse to listen to you and stay on the aids. These courses are fine, jumper courses at H/J shows are always "twisty". Your corners are killing you and you have no track control- almost sideways to some of these tiny fences. Crossrails are designed to help you find the track over the low and inviting center, you are drifting sideways over the high sides. There is one crossrail in the second video where you are a 2 strides out to the high, right side then suddenly slide all the way left to the other high side and whatever prayer you had for a nice take off and landing gets left in a bad miss at the base.

That's just lack of straightness and not keeping the aids consistent to maintain it. Easy to fix with alot of work OFF the rail at home, 1/4 line, center line, diagonal line, outside the ring NOT along the fence. That is pretty evident in the first video in that unfenced grass field...you are wandering a bit and look a little lost at times. Plan you track and ride it. Second video you have a better track overall but there is a definate sand ring boundary and a fence around it. Contrast that with the the first video and you can the problem. That's OK because it happens to almost everybody, just shows where you need more work.

I would also add alot of ground poles in at home and work them at trot and canter concentrating on finding that track and staying straight.

The other big issue I see is the horse evading the bit by putting it's ears in your face, inverting and dropping the back. Fact I was grimacing in that first video thinking you were going to get smacked in the face every time you raised your hands and tried to slow down. That IS something you need to work alot on in your flatwork. Lots of leg to support alot of down transitions with a lower hand and more consistent light contact-please don't say horse is sensitive etc...they have to learn to accept contact and not stick the nose in the air or you are going to be stuck where you are. Better in the second video in the fenced ring but almost a wrestling match in the grass field of the first video.

You may need to investigate bit changes as well as do some lunging in sidereins to help this one learn to lose the dropped back, head in air evasion technique. Work some leg yields as well and other laterals to improve what looks like a little touchy to the leg. They have to accept that as well.

Work on a quiet and lower hand and don't get sucked into raising them to fight with horse. Quietly insist. Leg to hand, back to front not pull front to back. But I'd sure suggest a standing martingale (properly adjusted) over these little fences just to protect your nose and remind horse.

Now, well aware this is an Ayrab and they tend to have a higher head carriage as well as the fact your legs, arms and torso are long for this size horse. So your hand is not going to be 6 inches below the crest in a proper crest release, sometimes you have to adjust these things for what you are riding. And horses like this sort of make the reins get 3 feet long when you are trying to slow down by inverting and going up with the head-it can be frustrating.

But you need to resist getting sucked into that game and just quietly insist with leg and keep your hand lower with light contact, insist they work into your hand, not throw the head back to it.

Kind of like you guys overall. Work this out and you will see huge improvement.

Spud&Saf
May. 31, 2010, 11:06 AM
Agree with everything F8 says.

Firstly, you need to make a better plan of where you plan to go and stick to it.

However, in order to stick to the plan, your horse needs to get more rideable by no longer lifting its head and resisting going into the bridle.

F8's suggesting of lunging in sidereins is a good one and I'm going to build on that with another idea.

For undersaddle work, you could consider using a chambon. However, I would not clip the rings to the bit, which is the intended use. Instead, if you clip the rings back to the pulleys, you can use it as a sort of modified western tie down. The theory behind this way of using it is that there is poll pressure when the horses resists by lifting and hollowing. When the head is lowered, there is no real pressure effect. Therefore, it is sort of self correcting and does not put any pressure on the mouth.

findeight
May. 31, 2010, 11:25 AM
Yeah, Spud, I rarely bring that up but something over the poll like a chambon or even a bungee-introduced gradually with all the improved leg to hand work in place, would be a good plan. Especially if started gradually on the lunge first.

NOT draw reins with this one because that head will just find another way to evade, like down behind the bit. No "designer system" either. Something simple adding a little poll pressure just to help horse figure it out-nothing with bit pressure or restriction, least IMO. Sidereins on the lunge can do that for you and teach horse to accept the bit, not force.

This one needs some actual correction as well as considerable improvement in basics. But it is doable, just take time and alot of wet saddle pads. Help the heck out of going CC.

Spud&Saf
May. 31, 2010, 11:41 AM
F8 -Absolutely agree - no gadgets/ draw reins/any bit pressure. Let horse teach itself through making the incorrect way harder and the right way more appealing.

Also OP, this is slow and steady work - changing the way your horse carries itself will not be easy and progress will not be lightning fast. Start off easy and increase work slowly.

STA
May. 31, 2010, 07:33 PM
Enjoytheride, no horse is perfect, deal with your horse the best you can. I am sure you take lessons - stick to your teachers plan. As for sidereins and chambons these training tools seem to be a little advanced for you at this time.

My suggestion is to go through the course in your mind at the same pace as if you were riding. Not only the jumps, but the turns and places in the course where you can reorganize. By doing this you can feel as if you have already jumped the course when you enter the ring. People in other sports use this method, golfers to see puts, basketball players to see the basket, ets. It is called visualization and remember there is not substitute for experience.

Hunter Mom
May. 31, 2010, 07:41 PM
A simple standing martingale - well adjusted - might be helpful to keep him from raising the head to evade the jumps.

Lots & lots of transitions, too! As usual, F8 is right on the nose.

STA
May. 31, 2010, 08:01 PM
Can you use a standing martingale eventing? I am a H/J person, so I do not know the correct answer.

hb
May. 31, 2010, 08:23 PM
No, you cannot use a standing martingale in an event, just running.

cyberbay
Jun. 1, 2010, 07:42 AM
Agree with STA. The OP is not ready to use things like Chambons, etc.

I thought you (OP) rode quite nicely. One thought: your horse may be exasperated and unchallenged by such low fences and the dialed-down pace you chose for that particular ride. Allowing the horse to move on/with more pace a bit where you don't have a snug corner coming up might help, and even jumping that course in a more fwd pace might be worth it. I wasn't as bothered by the head up in the air as other posters, given the very slow pace.

When you practise(sp?) your jumping, practise riding at your jump or g'rail to arrive on the perpendicular, ie., so that you are jumping straight across it. This will help you land going straight ahead and help minimize the veering.

I agree with FindEight: you two are a very appealing pair and you ride nicely. Your horse is very nice, imo. It's nice to have the upper-level horses as examples, with their nice ways of going, but those horses tend to be born not made.

Also, suggest shortening your stirrups or hole or more when jumping.

findeight
Jun. 1, 2010, 11:15 AM
Can you use a standing martingale eventing? I am a H/J person, so I do not know the correct answer.


OP is not Eventing here, she can use the standing while schooling and at these little open shows. Keeping horse's face off of rider's nose is what it is for. Until he learns to lose that high head and accept the bit, she should use it. It's crossrails and below 2' fences, quite safe.

Sidereins on the lunge are usually used very early in a horse's career, they teach them to balance and understand contact...something OPs looks like he missed. IMO they are not advanced at all, more like Kindergarden level. Don't see that as "too advanced" here at all.

We can argue the chambon. But this one has been doing the inverting for some time, he is no green colt, and that may be on the horizon for OP. He needs a little help understanding, that is a fairly innocuos way of reminding him not to go up as he learns to accept instead of fight.

And I sooooo disagree with the statement upper level horses are born, not made. Some may be born with more talent or physical ability but they are carefully schooled up through the "grades" over a period of years. And ANY horse can go through those same grades and lessons and improve to be the best they can be.

OP, don't be discouraged. Watch those upper level horses and learn from what the riders do with them-then do the same with yours. It's hard. It can be boring. It takes a long time. But you will get there.

STA
Jun. 1, 2010, 01:10 PM
The OP states she is mostly an eventer. To give her an answer she can not use when eventing does not seem to help her with her question. I never said a standing was unsafe, just questioned if it could be used eventing.

Do you believe the rider in the video has the education to use sidereins on the lunge? I don't think she would know how to use them correctly.

I agree with you the young lady should not be discouraged. She did a nice job on the video and has asked an intelligent question concerning her horse's training. I think she should depend on her trainer's guidance and not try aids she is not ready to try.

enjoytheride
Jun. 1, 2010, 04:58 PM
Actually I have plenty of experience using sidereins

Spud&Saf
Jun. 1, 2010, 05:06 PM
If the young lady has a trainer and is being supervised, then I don't see why she can't discuss options of aids with her trainer.

A chambon used in the manner that I described is not exactly like slapping on a set of draw reins and a pelham and having at it on the horse's mouth. It's a fairly benign form of self-correction and as long as she has trainer approval and supervision, I don't see what the huge problem would be with its use or the use of side reins while lunging if the trainer deemed it appropriate.

We all need to learn somewhere along the line. I sure wasn't an expert at lunging in side reins the first time I attempted it, but at the same point...it's not exactly rocket science to learn either. As long as one is being supervised properly by a trainer, I don't see the problem in trying new methods and gaining knowledge of the tools available to develop a horse.

STA
Jun. 1, 2010, 05:21 PM
If the young lady has a trainer and is being supervised, then I don't see why she can't discuss options of aids with her trainer.

A chambon used in the manner that I described is not exactly like slapping on a set of draw reins and a pelham and having at it on the horse's mouth. It's a fairly benign form of self-correction and as long as she has trainer approval and supervision, I don't see what the huge problem would be with its use or the use of side reins while lunging if the trainer deemed it appropriate.

We all need to learn somewhere along the line. I sure wasn't an expert at lunging in side reins the first time I attempted it, but at the same point...it's not exactly rocket science to learn either. As long as one is being supervised properly by a trainer, I don't see the problem in trying new methods and gaining knowledge of the tools available to develop a horse.

Of course we all need to learn somewhere, you now have written exactly what I was trying to communicate (apparently not well) you NEED to Have a more knowledgeable person with you: example - a trainer. I have seen someone lunge a horse with sidereins for half an hour then get on to ride. The horse's back was so sore from the lunging with sidereins he reared and the rider was injured. I was attempting to make clear not to "try" aids such as chambon and sidereins without the experience needed to understand the effects.

enjoytheride
Jun. 4, 2010, 05:41 PM
I appreciate the young lady comment but I am middle aged (although I do still get asked if I'm in pony club :cool:).

While I'm a novice over fences I have lots of experience backing and reschooling horses, in particular bad horses that other people don't get on, so I do have experience with sidereins and the like. This horse used to be unsafe to ride. I've just never had anything safe enough to really work on more of my riding and less of my "sticking." Generally the horses move on after I get them all fixed up so I never get a chance to work on a finished horse.

To asnwer some questions, we were eventing on this day. When I show her in hunters she does wear a standing martingale. I have used a running martingale but when it was short enough to affect her head I tended to snatch her in the face on the landing side as she was very green and I would get jumped loose.

Here we are doing hunters, at one point I gave up on the coat as it was 40 degrees. She doesn't like to touch the fences and I have an awful problem with my legs.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/20892581@N04/4199417743/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/20892581@N04/4199405915/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/20892581@N04/4200163870/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/20892581@N04/4200239928/

Here's just a warmup video at a show
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cf8GsJ_Ug6s


For those that suggested a bit, do you have any suggestions? She's usually really sensitive mouthed especially when nervous but she does brace and get strong. I ride in a french link snaffle. I can ride with two reins but probably not over fences.