oxer issues and grid work suggestions
Backstory... we got in a new guy at the beginning of summer. He had been jumped very lightly before but had a lengthy time off, a year or more (not due to any type of injury but due to previous owner's personal issues). Once we bought him we spent a couple months working on basics, improving fitness, getting in some show experience in the 2'6"- 2'9" hunters (he had never been shown before), getting lead changes, etc. We also show in dressage (1st and 2nd level) which has significantly improved rideability.
Now we are moving into the jumper ring and need to begin some more 'sophisticated' jumper education. This horse has lots of scope (been free jumped to 5'+) and often over jumps (we are currently showing in the little 3' jumpers). He is now adjustable enough that he will ride to the base of a vertical and has gotten pretty good with those.
The problem: Oxers, especially wide, rampy ones, are challenging for him. He does not like to get very close at all to the base of them (or what would be considered a "normal" distance). He likes to jump from farther out, over jump them by a foot or two at the apex, then land far away. So essentially he just makes a REALLY big arc. This of course makes lines and combinations VERY challenging, not to mention he spends way too much time in the air to be efficient on the clock.
I am thinking about working with him over some grids to encourage him to move in closer to the base. Maybe vertical-one stride- oxer- one stride- vertical. Hopefully the deeper distances will tidy up his front end. When he over jumps he tends to hang his legs a bit. Of course, we aren't in danger of knocking any rails but it would be nice for him to learn that he can pick up his feet rather than launch his entire body.
Any grid work suggestions? Anyone else struggle with over jumping oxers?