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View Full Version : spinoff - how to let a horse find his own distances?



mustangsal85
Oct. 5, 2010, 11:24 PM
So that I don't hijack the previous thread about help on finding distances..

How exactly do you let a horse figure out distances for himself? I understand pace and straightness but it is hard to understand how to let him see the jump. Are we saying not to adjust in front of the fence and let him chip or take a flyer? It's hard not to help out if you see a longer or shorter spot coming. Clarification?

*jumper*
Oct. 6, 2010, 12:07 AM
I'm interested in input here as well...I've tried allowing my seasoned jumper to pick his own distance (just to poles and a few small jumps...I don't want to die!) and he seems utterly incompetent. I don't just sit there either; as the OP noted, pace, rhythm, and straightness are of utmost importance. My horse just either completely missed the point or had no sense of self preservation, because he either stumbled over the pole/fences or chipped horribly (and he's a very careful horse capable of 1.30m). Either that, or he's a bit too dependent on me ;)

doublesstable
Oct. 6, 2010, 04:25 AM
Well for what it's worth, my new horse, the trainer said he wishes he had 10 more horses in the barn like my horse. He scopes out the distance and is very smart about it and you cannot teach that.

Pennywell Bay
Oct. 6, 2010, 06:57 AM
I know that with my old AA horse, if I tried to pick the spot or distance by adjusting - it would annoy him. Sometimes he would just ignore me flopping about like a chicken to find the magic ( this was 20 yrs ago....). Finally, I learned to just leave him alone and he would find it so much better than I! My AA horse after that needed me every step of the way. He was just not as confident and like a firm contact etc. But he clocked around w/ just that minimal contact.I think sometimes it depends on the horse?

GilbertsCreeksideAcres
Oct. 6, 2010, 07:36 AM
I think that if you let them find their own distances when training them, they will learn to trust themselves and will probably make better choices than the rider, in many cases.

fordtraktor
Oct. 6, 2010, 09:57 AM
This is probably heresy but in my opinion horses are just like people -- some have a better eye than others. If you are lucky enough to have one with a good eye, enjoy him. Otherwise, establish a good rhythm, keep a good pace, and ride a good line so he has a baseline to learn from.

And then help him if you see something he doesn't, like the fact that he's going to eat whatever you are cantering up to.

Free jumping can help them learn how to pick their own distances.

The best thing is to not help them out when they are babies. If the horse is reasonably confident and you are not worried he's going to lose that, just canter down on a nice pace and rhythm, and to he&$ with the distance over little tiny jumps that can't hurt them. I try not to micromanage babies so they can help me out when the jumps get bigger. You aren't doing them any favors by coddling them at that age.

tarheelmd07
Oct. 6, 2010, 10:23 AM
Gymnastics...lots and lots of gymnastics...and lots and lots of repitition of the gymnastics. Get Jimmy Wofford's book on Gymnastics...it's a great place to start and he's a great proponent of teaching horses to think for themselves. Start simple, make them more complicated as the horse progresses in their training...and give them time. It's fun to watch the young ones learn by trial and error through the grids...and see how much they learn to adjust themselves when they are allowed to figure it out on their own. Once they learn to find their own distances in a grid, then you can progress to single fences and courses...and it takes time for them to figure it out :)

I agree somewhat with fordtraktor that some horses are definitely better at this than others...but I believe that most of them can learn to find their own distances to some degree. It's fun to watch...and to ride...ones that are really very good at finding their distances. One of my guys right now is fabulously accurate...to the point where he'll let you know that the line you thought you set at 60' is really 58.5' :yes:

oldbaymare
Oct. 6, 2010, 10:46 AM
My last trainer free jumped the younsters first. I think this helped some and then undersaddle over the small stuff, he supported to the jump but didn't place them at the correct distance. I am sure some horses learn better than others. My horse started this way and he would hunt the jumps and we rarely had a bad distance. He was also very well bred for jumping.
My trainer now rides the babies the same as the above trainer to little jumps in the beginning. Obviously you don't want to scare a younsters. So if they get at all frazzled you need to help them more.

Janet
Oct. 6, 2010, 10:53 AM
Grids, grids, and more grids (aka gymnastics).

The point is lots of exercises the PUT the horse at the right distance, without a lot of input from the rider. Then they develop the "muscle memory" for what "feels right".

Then placing poles (approx 9' in front of the jump). Unless the horse completely ignores the pole (and I have had a couple like that) the placing pole puts them in approximately the right distance. Again, developing the horse's "muscle memory", and thus the horse's "eye".

Summit Springs Farm
Oct. 6, 2010, 11:00 AM
I agree with what the other posters have said, I know my AA has a great eye, he finds the distance consistantly,

How do I know that? Well when my BNT said more than once wow you have a great eye, I just patted his shoulder and said Thank You! Cause it ain't me baby! Its all him!:cool:

shawneeAcres
Oct. 6, 2010, 11:18 AM
I feel that, for most green horses, finding their own distance is not an option. You run the risk of the horse having a bad expereince, crashing thru a fence due to a bad distance and then really having issues. What I think is that a green horse learns thru repetition, i.e. they develop "muscle memory" if put in a situation where the distance is EASY to get to. This involves the use of placing poles. I ALWAYS start youngsters ( or retrained horses) with cavelletti, ususally 4 - 6 trot poles spaced out. I teach them to trot thru calmly and usually include a small "flower box" in the exercise to help them learn that it is not JUST poles, see this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUrUQf7rqcQ

Then I progress to using trot poles and a small fence, usually start with cross rail, and progresss to a "Crossrail oxer"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mPCJjwB1GI

then progress to a "line" of fences at related distances with takeoff/landing poles and also do small "courses" initially at trot:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mPCJjwB1GI

By doing these exercises enough times and progressing thru them over a period of a few weeks, making sure to incorporate small fences that are more that just poles so they are used to boxes, flowersm bright colors etc. they begin to get to a point where they can negotiate fences better on their own. You need to keep jumping a POSITIVE exxpereience for the young horse, yes they will make mistakes but they need to have help to learn.

KC and the Sunshine Band
Oct. 6, 2010, 01:22 PM
what's wrong with the rider in the vidoes? Does she suffer from some sort of birth defect that keeps her from bending her elbows?

fordtraktor
Oct. 6, 2010, 01:31 PM
How rude, KC. I would send a green horse to Shawnee to learn how to jump any day if I couldn't do it myself. They all look willing, happy and confident, and she has very soft hands.

barka.lounger
Oct. 6, 2010, 01:44 PM
bar.ka here

bar.ka kno horses who r smart and bold want 2 go to fence. they take jockey to the jump. lazy horses have to b kick.ed 2 the jump. lazy horses much harder 2 ride 2 good distance.

bar.ka say work on impulsion and str.aightness then u find jump.ing the easy part.

here at "SOLID BASIS IN FLATWORK FARMS" we tea.ch even the laziest horses impul.sion.

u got 2 st.art with go.o.d horse.

c u in the ring.

shawneeAcres
Oct. 6, 2010, 01:46 PM
How rude, KC. I would send a green horse to Shawnee to learn how to jump any day if I couldn't do it myself. They all look willing, happy and confident, and she has very soft hands.

THanks FT, but I cannot claim to be the rider in these particular videos, this is my "assistant", these are videos with me riding

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpQ3TIBbrWk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eh-Pd7oZYKY

I very rarely get to be videoed (probably a good thing! :lol:) usually I am the one doing the videoing and noone is around when I am riding! I only WISH I were as young, thin and talented at my assistant is! :yes::winkgrin:

You know, we all have our riding faults, and the videos were posted in an attempt to show the progressions of training a young, green horse the art of jumping, not as an example of "perfect riding"

ToTheNines
Oct. 6, 2010, 01:54 PM
How incredibly rude KC. And on top of that, I find the rider to be soft and tactful. Would put her on one of mine any day. Especially rude, given that Shawnee Acres has given lots of wonderful advice, and I don't recall her ever being anything but gracious.

sptraining
Oct. 6, 2010, 02:04 PM
It's been my experience that "finding a distance" happens way before you ever look at a fence. Horses that naturally go in a balanced and rhythmic way, with the proper amount of impulsion, and who have been taught to take off at the right spot will *seem* to find their distances for their riders. In actuality, it's the balance, rhythm, impulsion and track that has done most of the work.

In teaching greenies, grids/gymnastics teach them to gauge how much they're going to need to get over the fence from any given spot. Ground lines and ground poles act as training wheels to teach the horse the proper take-off spot. It's sort of like learning to stop the car behind the crosswalk instead of in it. You learn that if you're going to stop, you have to apply a certain amount brake to stop in time. Eventually stopping in front of the line becomes habit. Horses eventually learn through the proper placement of groundlines and grids how much room they need in front of the jump. If you don't use groundlines and grids, the horses will rely on the rider more to give them that information. Without groundlines/grids, they should eventually learn where to take off, but it may take longer and they may get resentful at the rider for constantly tugging on them.

Any time a young horse, or even a schoolmaster with a green rider, makes a big effort in spite of how it came to be that they needed to make such an effort, I make a big deal (good boys, pats) out of the horse to let them know that their hard work was appreciated. It gives them confidence to tackle the next difficult situation and instills in them a desire to try harder for the rider. It may have physically been unpleasant for the horse, but if they're appreciated for their try, they're more likely to do it next time.

findeight
Oct. 6, 2010, 02:16 PM
Back to the topic at hand...

Bar.ka nailed it. Seriously.

You cannot fix anything in front of the fence, you have to do that well back-like in the corner before you straighten out on the approach. Or, actually, the minute you pick up your canter and head to that first fence. You stay focused on keeping the horse on the aids and focused on you as you stick to your plan.

I am in the camp that believes the horse "finds" it's own distance only when properly and consistently on the aids throughout the entire course. Only minor adjustments will be successful, anything more will disrupt and make things harder. Plus make more obvious the fact the horse was improperly balanced and/or stride regulated to the point that big adjustment had to be made.

I say this having just watched my DVR of 3 hours of Eventing Show Jumping while listening to Jimmy Wofford point out where riders lost focus and made mistakes-they lost focus and dropped the aids, rein or leg, and the horse "missed"-because the rider did not see they were not regulating the stride properly to get to the right place and follow thru off the ground until it was too late. A few did but the horse did not care to listen and stay focused. JW must have said "that's where the Dressage comes in" 50 times or so.

If the basic aids are there, the flatwork is there? The distance will always be there.
That said, you got an old horse that has done courses for 10+ years and they will "find" the spot despite the rider. But that's from repetition under good riders that kept them focused.

Oh, not saying to not do the gymnastics, that's been covered. Just try to do them RIGHT or it won't work and could get them backed off and even scare them.

tamarak_equestrian
Oct. 6, 2010, 02:57 PM
I don't think every horse can find its own distances. Some are trained to be responsive to you and wait for you to make the call, where as others are trained that this is their job and they are to do it no matter what you're doing up there.

My one pony could find his own distance backwards and blindfolded. He gets mad at me if I try to pick the distance because he knows what he's doing and doesn't want me messing it up lol. The key to him is just having enough pace, because he's pretty lazy. Once I have enough pace, I just loop the reins, get off his back, and steer from time to time. You will never miss on him if you let him pick the distances. When you watch him go around, you can tell he sees his distance early and moves up or backs off accordingly. And if you ASK for lead changes, he gets irritated. Basically, he just wants you to stay up there with your foot on the gas pedal and let him do the rest. And over the years, I've learned that it always goes better his way. I honestly don't even look for distances when I'm on him anymore. If I do, whether I mean to or not I'll change the ride and we won't get there quite right. If I just sit there and let him worry about it, he'll fix whatever needs fixing on his own.

It's a really hard thing for some people to learn to do though. When I first got him, I struggled with learning to do less and not interfere with him and I've seen riders who have leased him from me have the same problem. Most of the time we're taught to be effective riders, so when you're on a horse who doesn't need you much at all to do its job well, it can be hard to just let the horse be and trust that they don't need you to do all the finessing you would normally do.

Then there's letting your horse find their own distance when they're NOT perfect at doing it. I have another pony who every now and then decides he knows best and can find the jumps without me, and he'll try to take hold of the bit on the way to the jump and do his own thing. And sometimes I have to just say 'fine, go ahead' and let him get there horribly wrong so he'll realize maybe he should be listening to me, and then he'll be fine afterwards.

I don't know if you can teach a horse to find its own distances per se. I think either they do it naturally, after years of showing they figure it out on their own, or they'll always just wait for you. I'm sure my one horse could find his own distances, but he won't. I can feel him waiting for me to tell him what I want him to do. He's just not the 'go ahead and do it alone' type horse. Then there's my pony who's the 'leave me alone, I got this' type pony. So I think to an extent, it's in their nature or it's not.

findeight
Oct. 6, 2010, 03:12 PM
Some riders also do not understand why they missed and blame not finding the distance...the term "finding a distance" is not exactly universally embraced. Some of the very top folks will tell you there is no such thing anyway.

I see and hear waaaay too many blame that when the horse just flat cannot do the job-it's not the distance, it's the fact it's not built or trained up properly for the job at hand. Or it's lame or hurting someplace.

IMO we get too wrapped up in distance and neglect what creates it. We see it as "distance" when it is simply proper management of pace and balance.

tidy rabbit
Oct. 6, 2010, 03:19 PM
agreed... if you're on a good strong pace, you can adjust a little bit to either move up or shorten to fit it in, or just keep going when it's just right.

It's when the horse is not forward, not engaged behind, behind your leg, whatever you want to call it. When the impulsion is missing, that's when distances don't work out.

You can always tell when someone has first fence-itis because they pick up the canter and poke along and then chip the first fence, every time, on that pokey itty bitty canter. The correct canter right away gets rid of first fence-itis, 100% guaranteed to cure it.

Janet
Oct. 6, 2010, 03:27 PM
Another point.

When the horse is balanced and forward and in front of your leg, the area from which he can jump and it looks "right" is quite large.

When the horse is unbalanced ans strung out, there is NO spot he can jump from and make it look "right".

Spud&Saf
Oct. 6, 2010, 03:31 PM
My trainer tells me all the time that there is no "perfect" distance to any one jump - there is only a short, medium and long distance to every jump and how you manage your canter dictates which one you will find and whether or not it looks "right".

tidy rabbit
Oct. 6, 2010, 03:34 PM
And then it comes down to "how do you manage the canter"? That's all it really boils down to, all of it. The canter, it's quality.
That's where the dressage comes in. Knowing your horse and HOW to get and keep that good canter. When you have a forward horse in a good engaged canter, you can't hardly go wrong.

findeight
Oct. 6, 2010, 03:37 PM
It's called "riding backward".

When the horse is behind your leg, too slow, you see nothing and try to create a "distance" by pick, pick picking, taking a leg off or sitting up and back...or all of the above.

"Distance" is found coming forward with the horse ahead of the leg. You get that with flatwork and rider strength.

I posted elsewhere that I am pretty good at lead changes...I am, unfortunately, very good at picking any forward pace I have away when I cannot find anything I like:D.

Spud&Saf
Oct. 6, 2010, 03:38 PM
And then it comes down to "how do you manage the canter"?.

The art I'm still working on perfecting...

Spud&Saf
Oct. 6, 2010, 03:39 PM
It's called "riding backward".

When the horse is behind your leg, too slow, you see nothing and try to create a "distance" by pick, pick picking, taking a leg off or sitting up and back...or all of the above.

"Distance" is found coming forward with the horse ahead of the leg. You get that with flatwork and rider strength.

I posted elsewhere that I am pretty good at lead changes...I am, unfortunately, very good at picking any forward pace I have away when I cannot find anything I like:D.

Try my new motto of "gallop to the chip". Seems to be working for me HAHA.

meupatdoes
Oct. 6, 2010, 03:43 PM
what's wrong with the rider in the vidoes? Does she suffer from some sort of birth defect that keeps her from bending her elbows?

Wow.

Totally uncalled for.

KC and the Sunshine Band
Oct. 6, 2010, 03:55 PM
Wow.

Totally uncalled for.

:confused: What? That's not a birth defect? Oh, my mistake. Guess she's been trained to ride like that.

meupatdoes
Oct. 6, 2010, 03:59 PM
:confused: What? That's not a birth defect? Oh, my mistake. Guess she's been trained to ride like that.

SERIOUSLY WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM.

Czar
Oct. 6, 2010, 04:00 PM
:confused: What? That's not a birth defect? Oh, my mistake. Guess she's been trained to ride like that.

Like what? Soft, controlled & efficient.

First, I don't see what you're saying and second, even I did, it's inexperienced people who can't seem to realize that you don't have to look perfect to ride well.

SimonandGus
Oct. 6, 2010, 04:06 PM
The best thing is to not help them out when they are babies. If the horse is reasonably confident and you are not worried he's going to lose that, just canter down on a nice pace and rhythm, and to he&$ with the distance over little tiny jumps that can't hurt them. I try not to micromanage babies so they can help me out when the jumps get bigger. You aren't doing them any favors by coddling them at that age.

I think this says it. I think it also heavily depends upon the horse's intelligence and enthusiasm for their jobs. My 5yr mare is already incredibly smart, and if she sees a distance, I let her have it (within safety standards) and even if it is a bit long or short, I just come around again and she is able to adjust her self to a better one without my aide ( other then me keeping her balanced, with impulsion, and clear sense of direction).

Her intelligence and great work ethic make it possible for her to start choosing some distances for herself without me guiding and choosing the whole way around the course. Good luck!

KC and the Sunshine Band
Oct. 6, 2010, 05:20 PM
Like what? Soft, controlled & efficient.

First, I don't see what you're saying and second, even I did, it's inexperienced people who can't seem to realize that you don't have to look perfect to ride well.

Locked elbows and pulling the head down while the horse is shuffling forward is appropriate for western pleasure, not for training a horse to jump. If you can't see that, than you're the one who is inexperienced.

meupatdoes
Oct. 6, 2010, 05:24 PM
Locked elbows and pulling the head down while the horse is shuffling forward is appropriate for western pleasure, not for training a horse to jump. If you can't see that, than you're the one who is inexperienced.

Do you have a personal vendetta against this rider or something?

She didn't even post herself so why are you ripping her a new one like this?

She is doing perfectly fine on a baby horse, there is no reason for you to dedicate multiple posts to attacking her. WTH did she do to you?

Czar
Oct. 6, 2010, 05:29 PM
Locked elbows and pulling the head down while the horse is shuffling forward is appropriate for western pleasure, not for training a horse to jump. If you can't see that, than you're the one who is inexperienced.

Perhaps you could post a video of yourself riding a 3 yr old so we can see where you think the head should be and what kind of pace the horse should have?

Seriously, either you are just looking for a fight or you really don't know what you are talking about.

Neither the grey nor the chestnut appear under the pace to me nor do they look like they are having their heads pulled down :confused: The rider's hands are a little wide ON THE FLAT, but who cares? Not uncommon to use that technique on a young horse when you are teaching them to find/feel the bit.

HRF Second Chance
Oct. 6, 2010, 06:08 PM
And yet another train wreck.... Let's ignore the troll shall we?

My horse is a metronome so he finds the distances on his own because he puts together a rhythm and sets a good pace. However, he does like to know I'm up there and will occassionaly toss in a chip to brighten me up. If I'm a paralyzed monkey he'll lightly root onto the bridle to say "let go and let's figure this out together." I'm blessed with a babysitter.

But we are working on always finding the distance coming forward. It only took about 3 months for me to REALLY get what that meant.....

mustangsal85
Oct. 6, 2010, 06:16 PM
KC I am pretty sure that no one asked for a rider critique. This thread is not for flaming on a person's riding, please take that crap elsewhere.

Moderator 1
Oct. 6, 2010, 08:35 PM
There are plenty of ways to constructively address how rider position/efficacy can affect a training situation if that's the true intent. Please drop the snark and keep to the main topic.

Thanks,
Mod 1

accidental cowgirl
Oct. 6, 2010, 08:54 PM
My trainer has had me drop the reins out of the corner coming across a long diagonal to an oxer to MAKE me let my horse find her own distance, and quit trying to "find a distance". It's a bit - um -breathtaking, as my mare is a forward horse, and by no means a packer. Each time she would accelerate to a stronger canter than I would have chosen, but get a good, safe distance every time. I will note that she's a careful horse, and was started with trot fences, canter poles, etc as others have suggested.

doublesstable
Oct. 7, 2010, 02:56 AM
Thats why jumping is hard. You want to keep your horse balanced, straight and with a rhythmic pace.. yet allowing them to do their job. So as a rider it's difficult sometimes not to forget to keep the horse in front of your leg when you are allowing them to do their job. It's a feel and each horse is different in the amount of work you need to do to keep them balanced and rhythmic.

And having a horse with A LOT of adjustability is a big bonus....

Summit Springs Farm
Oct. 7, 2010, 07:57 AM
Try my new motto of "gallop to the chip". Seems to be working for me HAHA.

Or ride up to nothing? we've all probably done that too! Its somewhere between sittin chilly and riding up to nothing, seriously, I have found that if you get the quality canter everyone is posting about and stay balanced, straight and in that rhythm then ride to the base, your good to go.

But if you chase your horse to the jump or let him loose your rhythm, then you begin to have problems.

HRF Second Chance
Oct. 7, 2010, 10:58 AM
I had a trainer once make us work over a cavaletti and work on getting each distance, the chip, the "perfect", and the gap distance. And then discussed how to support the horse to make it look not like a horrific traffic accident. Then we'd "fix" the next distance.

Personally I thought it was brilliant.

But we worked first on the flat with extending our strides down the long side, then collecting down the short using our seat so we wouldn't get "handsy" before the jump.

Xanthoria
Oct. 7, 2010, 02:09 PM
How do you get a horse to find a good place to take off on it's own? Stop doing stuff. Just sit there. If the horse cares about hitting jumps or awkward distances he gets himself into, he will fix it himself eventually.

Horses know how to jump - just get out of their way and let them do it. Your job is to get them to the right fence, straight on, in a nice forward gait. They take it from there.

Personally I found that taking a pretty un-nimble horse who didn't care about hitting jumps to a hunter pace and jumping 15-20 cross country jumps while being ridden by a relative newbie (my SO) who doesn't know how to adjust strides was a revelation for the horse. His feet got rapped if he made a mistake and it was self correcting!

Which reminds me of a story I read about German cavalry officers who had a competition. IIRC they had a bunch of new recruits and a bunch of unbroken horses. They had a competition to see who could do the best jumping round after a couple months of training, with half the horses ridden by the new recruit beginners, and the others trained by very experienced cavalry officers.

The horses trained by the beginners were better jumpers because they had to figure it out for themselves!

Hony
Oct. 9, 2010, 03:25 PM
Or ride up to nothing? we've all probably done that too! Its somewhere between sittin chilly and riding up to nothing, seriously, I have found that if you get the quality canter everyone is posting about and stay balanced, straight and in that rhythm then ride to the base, your good to go.

But if you chase your horse to the jump or let him loose your rhythm, then you begin to have problems.

How exactly do you get that quality canter. I seem to know what it is when I've got it but can't seem to determine when I have a crappy canter until I've had a bad jump and then gotten the good canter. How do you just pick up a quality canter from stride one.

equidae
Oct. 9, 2010, 03:44 PM
It's called "riding backward".

When the horse is behind your leg, too slow, you see nothing and try to create a "distance" by pick, pick picking, taking a leg off or sitting up and back...or all of the above.

"Distance" is found coming forward with the horse ahead of the leg. You get that with flatwork and rider strength.

I posted elsewhere that I am pretty good at lead changes...I am, unfortunately, very good at picking any forward pace I have away when I cannot find anything I like:D.

Yess!! The days when I can NOT seem to 'find' a distance are the days when my horse is wayy behind my leg and I just killing myself to get him to go forward.. those are the days where nothing rides up nicely and everything just feels wrong.

A quality canter, and a horse in front of your leg- keep him straight then just stay out if his way except for minor adjustments. The jumps should just ride right up out of the stride.

GoLightly02
Oct. 9, 2010, 08:07 PM
No such thing as a missed distance, if you have the horse properly in balance before the fence. If the horse is in self-carriage, trusting you to leave him alone when he gets there, you are golden.

Then, no matter if it's short or long, he'll adjust, all by hisself, and chip or fly it.
Choosing and maintaining a suitable stride length is pretty helpful, too. Having a metronome in your head helps.

Many riders fall in on corners, and then pick with their hands all the way to the base.
Or they see that long one, and gun it. Both throw the horse out of balance. Leave him be, he'll manage.
jmo.

If you see that oooops moment coming, just breathe deep. Maintain your rhythm and your balance. You`ll be surprised how easily the horse will just do his thing. So you missed, no big whoop, is the attitude to take.
(All of this assumes, of course, a safe jumping horse, one who likes living to see dinner.)

LaraNSpeedy
Oct. 9, 2010, 08:25 PM
If you dont know the difference between a quality canter and a crappy one - then you have to work on your canter not finding distances. That should be a start to another thread.

I agree - the quality of jumping starts with the flat work - trully jumping is really us riding in between the fences and the horse gets to be in charge of the jump itself. The grid work and the gymnastics - the flat work - ALL KEY though as several already said - every horse is different and some horses will pick it up faster than others AND for different reasons.

I trained an 11 year old horse off the track and after some basic flat work - it was LIKE he had had that already - even though he was right off the track - so somewhere he got something extra there and part of it was just his God given design - but it took a month to teach him to jump and POOF he always found his distance and always in style. And he was bold and relaxed. Another pony, NOT designed for jumping at all and did not like the job but for self preservation - he jumped beautifully square in front and always from the right spot too. And I taught him to jump when he was 8.

But I agree - a lot of training helps to start young horses free jumping on the lunge..... gymnastics etc.

I THINK the KEY is - flatwork - quality canter - good riding - and then what would be needed then should be SLIGHT and a bit different depending on the horse. I have a girl with a big TB who LIKES to chip. So I have her lift her hands JUST one inch and squeeze slightly more about 10 feet before the fence (which is aiming for that 9 foot spot) - to ask him to take a larger distance and when she does that - he takes the perfect distance every time. Another rider has to shorten her horse's stride upon entry to the line because her horse is a worrier - and her worry seems to make her open her stride too much - if I did that with other horses, they would canter too short. But if she does that - the horse canters a line right almost every time.

If you have the flatwork/canter/riding correct between the fences, it should not be a big deal to tweak what needs to be done and I think it depends on the horse.

LauraKY
Oct. 9, 2010, 08:29 PM
Easy...buy an ex-chaser. No training to fences needed. Just brakes.

LaraNSpeedy
Oct. 9, 2010, 08:42 PM
LauraKY - HA HA HA actually my old horse (retired) was an exsteeplechaser and he always took an early spot and launched and tended to lower his body a little between fences as he lengthened his stride....... I had to ride him to his 'invisible' spot and override him and he taught me some defensive riding I had to unlearn. I know a girl with an exsteeplechaser who was easy to retrain - but mine - I even took him to two different reputable trainers to make sure it wasnt ME - and after several years - I decided to do dressage only with him! Too bad - he was a great athlete for the job!

ellebeaux
Oct. 9, 2010, 10:08 PM
I have to say this is a very useful thread - thanks all. I'm just thinking about all my old horses and what it was like riding them to the jumps. Very interesting.

GrayCatFarm
Oct. 9, 2010, 11:14 PM
Here we use something called "the circle of death" for this issue. At its extreme it is four jumps set on a small circle (diameter is width of the arena), at its beginning it can be four poles on the ground and you can build to two jumps 180 degrees to one another. The key is the circle. It keeps your horse soft and bent so it's harder for them to get away on you if they decide to run through it. (Ask me how I know). You HAVE to keep your eyes up and looking to the next jump. And, you HAVE to sit still and let them figure it out. The jumps/poles are three strides apart and the horse eventually figures out how to navigate and find the comfortable distance. On a schoolmaster, it will tune your eyes right up. On a green horse, it is not for the faint of heart. Hence, the barn name "circle of death". HOWEVER, in the course of "scrambling" the horse learns to look at the jump and judge the best distance. These are not big fences, by the way - maybe 1' or 18" verticals and you can ramp up from crossrails, too.

NancyM
Oct. 10, 2010, 11:21 AM
Well since I can't find the previous thread, I'll add to this one.

Re: Letting the horse make mistakes while he's learning to jump.

Assuming the rider has talent, skill, and education to know how to hold pace, rhythm, line etc.

The other component is the horse himself. Not all horses have talent and desire, even if they are bred specifically to do this job. Sometimes they may jump beautifully, if everything is perfect. But can not solve a problem if everything is not perfect. And can not learn how to solve that problem, even if given the opportunity to learn. Or horses who can not absorb making a mistake, who collapse into tears and become frightened of jumping if they hit something. These horses are not jumpers (or even hunters really). They just don't have the talent and desire. The talent includes the horse being able to develop his eye, particpate in finding the distances to the jumps, solving problems when things are not perfect, and looking after his rider. A talented horse has to be brave enough to be able to make a mistake, and learn from that mistake. That is his job, as an over fences horse. If he doesn't have this talent, one would ask exactly WHY someone is trying to make a hunter or jumper out of him. Because it isn't a great idea to do so.

A great coach once said to me, "Well Nancy, we are going to make or break this horse today". The horse had enough experience to know how to jump, and had enough flat work to be balanced and relaxed, had lovely rhythm in his canter, and it was time to canter to fences, larger fences, on practically no contact. Just leg on, stay out of his way and off his face, and ask him to solve the problem of finding his take off distance. If the horse can learn to put his eye onto the jump indicated by the rider, if he has talent, he can do this. If he does not have talent, he can't. Find out one way or the other.

If a horse is going to jump, he MUST have the talent. Jumping untalented horses will result in injury, eventually, because the rider WILL make a mistake, eventually, and the horse who relys solely on his rider has been trained to jump, so he will. The result of this is a huge crash. Not fun. Should be avoided if possible.

If you are riding a talented horse, and have the skill, talent, and education as a rider to do your part of the job, THERE ARE NO BAD DISTANCES, ONLY BAD RIDES. (this is not my quote, it comes from somebody famous). The horse will jump you out of any distance you get to. Don't jump an untalented horse, and think you can babysit him and take care of him all the time, because you can't. As soon as somebody TRULY believes that quote, and rides a horse with talent, finding distances to jumps becomes a non-issue. And the less you worry about it, the easier it all goes.

Riding green horses and letting them make the mistakes they need to make in order to learn to jump has it's dangers and pitfalls. Yes, a mistake may mean a fall, or a stumble. Without talent and some amount of courage on both the rider and the horse's part, the job does not get done. But the mistakes and falls are best made while the jumps are small, in the learning process. If you want to stay safe, don't ride horses, especially green ones over jumps, stay in bed instead.

xemilyx805
Oct. 10, 2010, 11:39 AM
This thread is so helpful!! I'm training a pony jumper and i've been wondering how and if i could train her to have a good eye for distances. I haven't done much free jumping and really haven't jumped her much at all so truly i don't know where she stands. (i had a horse who got sour to jumping at a very young age and this mare isn't even ready to start jumping, i'm very cautious about over-jumping young horses)

I love the idea of just giving the horse the responsibility of choosing her own distances and not micro-managing. Just stay out of the way and reinforce it when she takes a good distance. Then maybe down the line if she really does not have a good eye and can't get the distances right, teach her and help her out.

VarsityHero4
Oct. 10, 2010, 07:48 PM
I don't think it's about "leaving it up to the horse" as much as supporting it so it has the confidence to judge the fence properly. Leaving it up to the horse can bring a lot of problems. I equate horses jumping to people hurdling, some people easily fly over them while others, with even the best training, could never step up on a curb without falling on their face. I have personally witnessed a young, healthy, wonderful dressage horse (it had literally JUST been backed) crash through the chute time after time, day after day, week after week. It's not that it had bad technique per say, it was that it really just did not give a rat's a$$ that it was taking heavy, wooden rails down...

I think the key was what one poster said about the fact that the better you can establish a correct, balanced canter to begin with (I call it "the package") the distance from which you can take off safely becomes increasingly larger. The horses that find their own distances really have just learned that it's easiest for them to jump from a quality, consistent pace.

tidy rabbit
Oct. 10, 2010, 07:57 PM
How exactly do you get that quality canter. I seem to know what it is when I've got it but can't seem to determine when I have a crappy canter until I've had a bad jump and then gotten the good canter. How do you just pick up a quality canter from stride one.


That's where a good dressage trainer comes in handy. :) You'll learn it and *KNOW* it.

Hony
Oct. 11, 2010, 10:27 PM
Tidy Rabbit: I have both a dressage trainer and score well in the dressage portion of eventing up to Prelim level however, I can tell you with certainty that I will biff the first jump I canter to nearly every time. I canter up, I don't see a distance, I feel under paced, and then I get it together and things go fine. What I would really like is to have that canter before I get to the first cantered jump of the day. Make sense?

meupatdoes
Oct. 11, 2010, 10:38 PM
Tidy Rabbit: I have both a dressage trainer and score well in the dressage portion of eventing up to Prelim level however, I can tell you with certainty that I will biff the first jump I canter to nearly every time. I canter up, I don't see a distance, I feel under paced, and then I get it together and things go fine. What I would really like is to have that canter before I get to the first cantered jump of the day. Make sense?

Instead of counting the rhythm each stride (1,2,1,2 etc), try counting each step of each stride (1 2 3, 1 2 3, 1 2 3, 1 2 3, etc). Do this when it's going well so you really get to know that rhythm personally and then you have it ready in your head to ride to in the ring.

If you feel under paced, try adding a little on to the top from the beginning (not a flatter longer canter, though, keep it 'bouncy').
It is better to 'wait for it' to the first jump than to be catching up to your canter on the way in.

Also keep in mind that different arenas will mess with your beautifully laid plans. Deeper footing rides 'longer' (why don't we have enough?! are we there yet?), larger rings get the horses galloping and suddenly you'll find yourself whoaing on the way out.

Petstorejunkie
Oct. 11, 2010, 11:24 PM
set up a gymnastic
set the pace
once straight on the line grab your neck strap and close your eyes

i can't see a distance to save my freakin life. this is pretty much how i ride to every fence and we jump up to 3'6" this way just fine.

Spud&Saf
Oct. 12, 2010, 12:09 PM
Tidy Rabbit: I have both a dressage trainer and score well in the dressage portion of eventing up to Prelim level however, I can tell you with certainty that I will biff the first jump I canter to nearly every time. I canter up, I don't see a distance, I feel under paced, and then I get it together and things go fine. What I would really like is to have that canter before I get to the first cantered jump of the day. Make sense?


I also love to biff the first jump....and it's always because I'm underpaced and 9.9 times out of 10 its a single, so I can be underpaced without any real consequence.

I am trying a new approach.. if I post the canter and think forward to jump 1, I am better with finding the forward pace I need.

For some reason, posting the canter helps me find that more forward rythym...I think it's a mental thing.

Maybe it will fix your "Biff-the-first-fence-itis" too :D.