View Full Version : Exercises for flat jumper w/ great knees (with pic)

Jun. 6, 2011, 02:43 PM
I have a great 15.2 paint gelding that I have had 3 and a half years, since he was 3. I started him over small jumps as a 4 year old and had him jumping 3' at 5... Anyway, he's great with his knees. He tucks them up so tight and nice, BUT he is the flattest jumper! It's funny because he gets those knees up so high that his belly sometimes seems to hang lower than his legs!

In an effort to help with this, I try to always ride him to deeper spots, but can you think of other exercises?

I uploaded a pic of him to my old webshots page. My eq is not usually this horrible, but I thought the pic was fitting http://home-and-garden.webshots.com/photo/2384656880043029495eEMRiV

ETA: This horse is my pet. I have a warmblood who is my "show horse." This guy is my fun horse, trail horse... whatever horse. He's very good natured. I actually kinda want to try low level (2'6) jumpers with him at local shows. I did jumpers as a kid and I think it would be fun to try again, but my show horse is definitely a hunter!

Jun. 6, 2011, 02:49 PM
I had a gelding like your guy. I did really low, really wide oxers. They seemed to help him develop a better jump.

Jun. 6, 2011, 03:22 PM
What happens if you pop the jumps up higher? Does he just rub or knock the rails or does he jump with more bascule?

Jun. 6, 2011, 03:38 PM
He'll knock them down. I think part of the problem is he has learned that it doesn't hurt him to rub a pole since ours are PVC... Maybe some harder/heavier poles?

Jun. 6, 2011, 03:44 PM
I have a student with a horse like this too and would love to hear people's ideas. This is a registered QH we got 8 months ago who has been a trail horse since he was 4 but started dressage by the first owner. He switched really easily to English and loves to jump - naturally squares those front legs in front tightly but jumps flat and sometimes if he is extra flat - he will bang the jump with his hind feet. Mentally, he is a 10 year old and thinks he knows what he is doing so he is a little hard to teach him to realize he needs to use his body differently.

I have used lots of gymnastics and mainly for him - if I collect him a lot before he enters the gymnastics - he jumps very differently. I took his owner and him to a cross country schooling show thing this weekend and wrapped this horse's hind legs really good because I was afraid he would hit the legs and could fall - I had her enter the 18 inch to be safe first and then she went in the 2'6" and I told her to avoid a few jumps - she would not ribbon but I thought those fences looked trappy for his problems. But he was jumping SO MUCH BETTER - that the last go - I told her to go for it and he was great.

The biggest difference was really all the hills I think helped him to collect a lot.

However, I need this horse to jump with some bascule IN THE ARENA too. And I need him to figure it out and not need so much help from the rider.

Jun. 6, 2011, 04:02 PM
Picture won't load for me so I'm taking a guess at it. My first horse was like that sometimes, and the thing that did it for him was REALLY rocking him back on his butt and making him come in to fences on a smaller stride (mind you, this was on grass. He's easier on sand and the BEST on recycled rubber footing). I used a lot of higher, airy verticals to really get him to use his body. We used to occasionally grab a rail in the jumpers, but after doing that for just a few rides (two or three) he's never grabbed another one since and can REALLY crack his back if that's the kind of jump it needs. Of course, over smaller jumps (up to like 2'9") he doesn't really have to work, and he's careful enough so I don't mind that much.

Jun. 6, 2011, 04:36 PM
we have a cutie-pie paint as well.

I love gymnastics and I try all sorts of fun things.

one trip that helped him was:

10 canter poles set at 9-10 feet (or a distance that is short for your horse) to an oxar that was equipped with an arrow head to keep him straight. The canter poles rocked him back and lifted his front end.

Make sure the poles are wood. PVC doesn't help anything and should be outlawed.

Jun. 6, 2011, 04:46 PM
Make sure the poles are wood. PVC doesn't help anything and should be outlawed.

That made me smile. I'm the only english rider at our barn so all those jumps are home made... very cheaply... Our wood poles (not pictured) are actually the straightest, longest small trees/long limbs we could find in our woods, stripped of bark, sanded, and finally painted... But I do have a few wood poles I can use and I'll go hunting for some more!

Come Shine
Jun. 6, 2011, 04:51 PM
It's funny because he gets those knees up so high that his belly sometimes seems to hang lower than his legs!

He's a cutie. I think that is why horses that jump like that are called 'splinter belly' jumpers.

Jun. 6, 2011, 05:16 PM
My QH mare (previously a trail horse) will jump flat if I don't get the right canter. I've been doing lots of dressage to help our canter - if she gets too fast, she'll jump flat and if she gets too slow she'll pop me out of the tack.

Jun. 6, 2011, 05:24 PM
He's not as flat as I was expecting :)

It's unlikely you'll put much more bascule on him. What you see is probably pretty indicative of what he is, if that is pretty much how he looks all the time.

You can put more roundness by making sure his canter is active, impulsive, and you get him to a slightly deeper spot so he has to rock back and jump around the jump instead of just across/over it. Low, wide oxers will encourage flatness IMHO.

Hogsback oxers - 3 rails, highest in the middle - will more more encourage roundness, as will landing poles.

But while you can teach his body how to round a bit more, it's probably all going to come down to the quality of his canter and where you place him for taking off

Jun. 6, 2011, 06:11 PM
I second low wide oxers. Helped a gelding at the barn a lot. He didn't use his back but just put his neck down and jerked his knees up out of the way. We set up a canter pole infront of a low wide oxer x with a canter pole on the landing.

Jun. 6, 2011, 10:10 PM
What a cutie, and I also think he isn't *that* flat of a jumper.

Just guessing since it is hard to see in photo, but I think you may be throwing your body a bit at the jump, and that will contribute to a quick, flat jump. Make sure your upper body isn't jumping faster than your horse. Try to think of allowing your arms to lead you over the fence and keeping a gap between your forearm and chest. The slower you jump the more time you give him to finish his jump. Your body really shouldn't move a whole lot over a jump that size.

Agree with the low wide oxers and, yeah, PVC is a bad, bad product for jumping.

Generous ground lines and landing rails in the 10'ish range, depending on his step.

Make sure you aren't "helping" him off the floor, try to sit still the last step and let him think about how he's going to jump. (Sometimes that is easier said than done :))

Jun. 7, 2011, 07:20 AM
You can adjust gymnastics to be set a little tighter so he is forced to rock back. pole, x, pole is another good exercise. Also, make sure you are NOT getting ahead/laying on his neck. It makes it very difficult for him to lift his shoulder (resulting in the rest of his body) if he is also trying to catch your weight. A horse can only do so much when we as riders get in their way. :)

Give and Take
Jun. 7, 2011, 11:14 PM
i 2nd the many canter poles - raised cavaletti at the trot and canter.

another recommendation is to make sure you stay in a 2-point between the fences and not using your seat to keep the pace. he has to bring his hind end under from your leg with you off his back so he has an easier time using it.

if they're comfortable with someone sitting on them in a western saddle, try to get him to experiment with raising his back in a an english saddle by riding cavaletti, poles, gymanstics, etc - with you in a 2-point the whole time.

he's very cute!

Jun. 12, 2011, 09:59 AM
About PVC -we use both at my barn - and generally I agree - I wish all my poles were wood but you can cap the PVC poles and put colored duct tape on them - so if they splinter or break - the tape holds it together and the horse doesnt get hurt - the right caps weigh the poles down so they dont roll much - I do use them on cross rails and short jumps or as the poles below the top - usually keep the top rail the wood rail. I have filled some PVC with sand but that makes them SO FREAKIN heavy.

I am trying to replace the PVC with wood poles. I dont think PVC is necessarily evil but the horse who drags his hind feet and jumps flat - certainly wakes up when he bonks the wood! LOL!

The horse we have - its all about getting his hind end under and collecting. I was afraid to use low oxers because I thought that might make him jump more flat. but I will try it with the canter poles before it. I did nto think of putting so many - I have 2-3 canter poles before and after jumps for him.

Definitely his mom - who is a 13 year old rider and a very A personality - she is very competitive and ambitious and she does throw herself a bit over the fence. I holler "wait wait wait" and have her lift her hands 1 inch above the crest until take off because that makes her rock back into her legs. So I know she is a big part of the problem.

Jun. 12, 2011, 10:10 AM
You don't have to FILL a pvc pole with sand :) Just enough to give it the weight of a wood pole, even a bit less. The weight of a 10' pole is great.

Jun. 12, 2011, 10:27 AM
Trot jumps, as big as you are comfortable trotting. use a bounce pole in front of the jump if you are not sure about your distance. Trot bounces and grids.

Jun. 15, 2011, 06:42 AM
Some things you can't change, he may never learn to use his shoulders.

V rails, tight distances, deep spots, better canter, bounces, narrow cross rails will help you.

Jun. 15, 2011, 09:14 AM
Hmmm...don't hate me for this but...he is not all that great (for a Hunter) in front here. He is rolling over them a little and tightening up below the knee to compensate not...er... how to describe it??? He needs to open his shoulder more and reach forward with his neck. Go look at some good Hunter pix and see. The dropped knee does not bother me too much over an airy fence but...the good, natural ones are always even

I don't see him as all that flat here either, seems to be following thru, it's just a style thing because of how he is built.

I think sometimes we all get distracted by a dramatic knee sometimes and don't look at the whole picture.

He looks better off as a nice little jumper then trying to change this conformationally created tight but not Hunter style front end. Lot of Western breeds are like this due to their preferred conformation.

Honestly, he looks like he might be a tidy and careful Jumper with a good bit of power for you. I'd go that way.

But, yes, low, square oxers, placement rails and a few gymnastics but don't beat yourself up trying to develop something that is not there. And give him more to jump.

I like this one or I would not bother to say anything.

Jun. 15, 2011, 09:54 AM
What I used to use was a placement pole set out 9' from the jump (if I remember correctly), move it in or out as needed, that forced the horse to get in close to the jump, rock back, and go up and over.

Get some landscape timbers, those are cheap, easy to move around, and while they are still on the light side, still much better then the PVC. I used to do gymnastics with 4x6's (without the edges rounded) to get my guy sharp before a show, if you pick a few of those up, I'll guarantee that he won't be knocking.

For those suggesting a low wide oxer, wouldn't that encourage the horse to jump flatter since they are stretching to make the distance?

Jun. 15, 2011, 10:05 AM
You ride low, square oxers right to the base off a balanced and controlled pace, not weak and running off a long spot. Placement poles too, you have to get that step in there on both sides. And straight to, and over, the center, not sliding sideways. The horse has to use their whole body evenly, not reach to compensate for lack of power or roll over the shoulder and fold the lower leg way back under to compensate for lack of height in their jump.

Good place to mention all of these excercises should be done under the supervision of a knowledgeable ground person or with somebody riding that knows what they are doing-preferably both. Balance and straightness need to be controlled or they just don't work.

You can do more harm then good.