The Chronicle of the Horse
MagazineNewsHorse SportsHorse CareCOTH StoreVoicesThe Chronicle UntackedDirectoriesMarketplaceDates & Results
 
Results 1 to 13 of 13
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb. 4, 2008
    Location
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    Posts
    132

    Default Need help with cross country

    My horse is generally pretty great, does drops, banks, ditches, water sweet as... the problem is with general jumps. He is great as long as we get the right spot, if we get it wrong he will stop. We had a cross country school today as the course down the road was having an open day (I wasn't riding with a trainer or anyone else... all on my lonesome). Warmed up great, did the small fences easy... tried a slightly bigger fence (I think it was about 3') and we had a stop. I'm not very confident so just jumped him over the smaller fence next to it and didn't try that one again. Next fence was a hanging log (not too big, but would have been Training level). We didn't get the distance, he stopped, and I fell off (was a good fall, if you can have a 'good' fall, lol, landed on my feet right beside him, still a hold of him). Didn't try it again. Next was a smaller fence and he stopped as he would have lost a little confidence, jumped it fine the second attempt. Now I was walking around the course looking at jumps that weren't even big thinking that they were huge and we couldn't do them. Jumped a ditch a couple of times, then did the water, (down bank, one short stride, down into the water, over a little rise, back into the water and over a small fence in the water). I loved doing that combo. We then headed back over to the fences we warmed up at and I got most of my confidence back. Cantered up a rise, then down bank, one stride, down bank... he was great at it. Headed over to the half coffin... the first fence would have only been about 2'9" but it looked scary to me. I thought "it's small enough to jump out of a trot" so gave it a go... over the bank, then over the ditch... easy! Did a small light/dark to dark/light combo... now I had basically all of my confidence back. Headed over to a corner, had a couple of run outs... all my fault 'cause I had doubts about going over it. Jumped it once then left it. Then did a up bank with ditch in front easy, quite a few strides to a down bank. Now I was feeling GREAT about cross country. Did some straight forward fences, including a double which the second part was a skinny. Did another (different) corner, would have been about the same height, just not as big of an apex as the other corner we did. (All these jumps weren't jumped at cross country pace, a bit slower.) Finished with a gallop then did one at cross country speed, down into a different water combo (water was quite deep, splashed all up over us), up the bank. The banks were quite small.

    I realised our problem isn't with the cross country jumps which is good as I won't have to go to a course to fix our problems and can do it with show jumps. What do you think will help us with our getting the right distances problem?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec. 25, 2005
    Posts
    1,886

    Default

    I think the distance comes from a good canter. I wonder if you are a little worried approaching certain fences and perhaps pick-pick-pick all the way to the base, and loose some impulsion. Are you sure you keep your leg on and your hands soft? Do you have similar problems getting a good distance over show jumps?

    I know when I'm worried about a certain fence I sometimes grip with my upper leg and take my lower leg off, and then we end up fizzling out right before the fence (and, of course, have a stop). I don't think the answer is to try to ride the perfect distance, but instead to focus on getting and maintaining the perfect canter before the fence, so your horse can handle whatever distance is thrown at him.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb. 4, 2008
    Location
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    Posts
    132

    Default

    He's quite a lazy horse, I'm always thinking about my lower leg on... it does occasionally comes off though. We don't usually have problem with show jumps (only sometimes with bigger oxers). Maybe I should just stick with the lower jumps for now? He can jump from short/long distances with small jumps, just not the bigger ones... needs more confidence I think?



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov. 9, 2005
    Location
    uk
    Posts
    15,268

    Default

    not the horses fault its yours--- as you say you didnt lke the look of the jump
    so more than likely pulled him up or diverted him, i general its never the horse
    ahorse will jump but its how you are and how confident you are sounds like your not ready to jump 3ft so hence why you kept to the smaller ones where you feel more confident so therfore yyour horse does and he will quiet happily go over them

    time to go back to school and practice over small grids and as you do slowly make them wider

    its well known that horse that jumps small wicer jumps will of course be able to jump bigger jumps
    un beknown to the rider the horse stecthes himself up and over, then all you have to do is make the back rail a bit higher on the wider jump
    but gridwork pole work is the key



  5. #5
    Join Date
    May. 8, 2007
    Location
    down south
    Posts
    581

    Default

    Before this develops into a real problem, you need some reassessment. You're exactly right when you say that perhaps you need to keep to the smaller fences. It sounds like a confidence issue more than a distance issue. What I mean by that: any reasonably athletic horse should be capable of jumping a 3 foot fence from the absolute bottom, from a long flyer, from a trot. While you're right to try to improve the canter and thus improve the distances, you're never going to be able to eliminate those awkward distances entirely- they still happen at advanced! That's why we talk about needing our horses to have the ability to think for themselves and have a "5th leg" that gets them out of trouble.

    Clearly you guys do well when the fences are smaller and more comfortable to you. Rather than pushing the edge of the envelope over and over and reinforcing bad habits, stick to the small comfortable stuff for awhile. Teach yourself and the horse that the plan is to get from one side to the other on fences that are forgiving and don't make you nervous. Do not keep presenting to fences that you aren't willing to re-present to in the case of a bad ride or a stop. That is, unfortunately, how stoppers are made.

    Good luck!



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan. 16, 2002
    Location
    West Coast of Michigan
    Posts
    36,321

    Default

    You're going down a bad road letting the horse stop and then going back and doing something easier. DON'T school by yourself. DO have a competent trainer help you.

    A good canter will get you to the jump with what you need to get over. There may be "ideal spots" for XC fences, but a good horse and rider team will not react to a less-than-ideal spot by stopping. You both need more mileage and supervision. Be safe.
    Click here before you buy.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug. 6, 2002
    Location
    NJ, USA
    Posts
    2,190

    Default

    Just piping in to agree with, and add to, others advice here -

    Don't ask him to approach any jump that you aren't determined to go over. Especially for awhile after you had all those stops. Set things up for success, get a lot of positive experiences under your belt. I'm a big believer in taking a step or two back, to fix things, before pushing on again. I've never had a horse or student hurt by going back to the comfort zone for a bit. I have seen many rider &/or horse hurt by their refusal (or their trainer's refusal) to lower or simplify the question/challenges when they have trouble. IMO, a horse learns the wrong things when he has half a dozen stops in a session. If you are having more than one or two stops or run outs in a session, go back! Go back a step to where you KNOW you can get him over everything clear, and after a few sessions with 100% success, then you can up the ante again.

    Once you raise the challenge again, be prepared to have those self-doubting thoughts crop up again, and to combat them. This takes some mental discipline - eventers become very good at developing positive self talk! I.e., you may be feeling nervous, but you have to be able to tell yourself "Stop! (to the negative thoughts) I can jump this." One of my fave statments to myself when I'm feeling nervous is "STOP - Just do your job." It's amazingly powerful in stopping my worrisome thoughts and allowing me to focus on riding well.

    You shouldn't push the envelope very far above your 100% success zone, without a trainer you trust standing there beside the jump. Then you borrow confidence from them, and again, approach knowing you can do it. They will tell you if you are asking too much, and support your decision to push on, or to drop back to an easier question for now.

    Good luck!

    Arcadien



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug. 6, 2002
    Location
    NJ, USA
    Posts
    2,190

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by deltawave View Post
    You're going down a bad road letting the horse stop and then going back and doing something easier. DON'T school by yourself. DO have a competent trainer help you.

    A good canter will get you to the jump with what you need to get over. There may be "ideal spots" for XC fences, but a good horse and rider team will not react to a less-than-ideal spot by stopping. You both need more mileage and supervision. Be safe.
    Just writing because it may have sounded like I contradicted Deltawave, but I don't think I did - I agree with her that once you commit to jump a jump, you must find a way to get him over it. You shouldn't commit to something you're not sure you can get him over, at this point.

    What I mean by stepping back, is for now, aim for jumps that seem easy and you have no doubt you can get done - get a ton of successful jumps under your belt, to erase the "stop" thought in his (and your!) brains.

    Cheers,
    Arcadien



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan. 25, 2004
    Location
    Milton, Ontario
    Posts
    1,434

    Default

    A great tool for helping your eye is to canter poles on a regular basis. Count the last three strides. It really helps adjust your eye. I recently found out that if I count down, 3, 2,1, I can get to the fence right nearly every time. If I don't count I have a harder time seeing how I'm going to meet the fence and can't support my horse well at all.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec. 27, 1999
    Location
    Midland, NC, USA
    Posts
    7,228

    Default

    It sounds like your training approach is rather hit-and-miss and that may be part of your problem.... IIRC you posted about two months ago with lower leg issues, an inappropriate saddle, pinching knee, heels up, competing at Training. Now you're posting about an informal-sounding xc school, with no trainer, where you go back and forth from jumping small jumps to try to build confidence, having stops and a fall and not being able to find a distance, to jumping more technical questions like a half-coffin, water complex, and a corner--with the same varying success.

    You're not confident and your horse is probably confused as heck.... you need to work under the supervision of a trainer who can set you on the right road, tell you what to work on (and what NOT to work on!) and help you build your confidence without getting cocky and doing something silly that will set you right back again.

    As far as finding a distance, it is mostly important that you and your horse BOTH see the SAME distance (from a good canter, which is the #1 priority and I suspect is sorely lacking because it requires riding with conviction to get a good canter out of a lazy horse, especially right in front of a jump). If you miss, you miss, but if you KNOW you're going to have a long one, or a short one, and you have a good canter, you can make adjustments and ride appropriately to what you DO get. If you KNOW you're getting a short one, you can close your leg and sit back and WAIT and your horse will say, "oh, it's going to be short but the Boss knows it and she still wants me to jump, so okay". (hopefully, and since he's been given the "option" of stopping so much, it will probably take some work to reach that point).


    Jennifer



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb. 4, 2008
    Location
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    Posts
    132

    Default

    I have started working with a trainer for show jumping which has helped me quite a lot even though I've only had two lessons so far. Hony - last session she had me count down the strides out loud... every time I got it right, he got it right as well. I got it wrong once and it resulted in a stop :s. I know he is a much better horse than I can ride him... which frustrates the heck out of me!

    ThirdCharm - we stopped eventing at Training, and have entered Pre-Training at our next event in two weeks. I did the wrong thing by being pressured into going bigger than what we were ready for as they wanted me for a teams event. Now that we didn't make it, I don't have that pressure anymore.

    Next time I school cross country I'll make sure I have a trainer to come... I didn't this time because I only learned about the open day a couple of days before it so couldn't organise anything. I do lack confidence if it's only me out there... if I school with others I have a lot more confidence, and when I compete I ride with every bit of confidence I have... just wish I did when I was schooling!



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan. 19, 2005
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    12,371

    Default

    It seems the thing to take away from the schooling is that it is a confidence thing.....not a distance or canter thing.

    You need to approach schooling in an organized manner to give both you and your horse confidence. Start with smaller fences, break down combinations into their elements and school the elements before the combination, after doing something harder for your level....do a few easy confidence building questions....after a combination or accuracy question, do a few gallopy fences to get the rhythm and forwardness back. Schooling is NOT a competition...so take advantage of that and set yourself and your horse up for success.


    It sounds by your description that you were not the most organized or systematic in your schooling approach. You need to school a bit smarter or with a trainer next time....which I'm sure you will. Set a plan, how you warm up, how you introduce each fence....look at the questions, start with something smaller and easier that will lead into a harder fence. It really isn't about getting to the right distance...because to be honest, they need to jump even if you don't get to the perfect distance....but introducing the questions in a manner that your horse understands and is prepared for...and then you riding them confidently. Good luck!
    ** The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits. -- Albert Einstein **



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug. 2, 2008
    Posts
    25

    Default

    Whether or not you agree with what the old-timers say, I've read it a hundred times and believe it from experience:
    you and your horse have to have the initiative to go over a fence.

    If you overtrain regarding distances, etc., the horse will stop being able to find them on his own and start having stops. Stops will erode your confidence, especially if you were not terribly confident to begin with.

    I'm not saying that canter work or dressage is bad (heavens no! it's essential), but your horse shouldn't have to look to you to tell him every little thing to do. And you shouldn't always have to worry about it either.

    Seconding what everyone else has said: go back to smaller fences to gain confidence and let your horse gain initiative. : )



Similar Threads

  1. Cross Country Course
    By Wellspotted in forum Eventing
    Replies: 20
    Last Post: Jul. 26, 2012, 09:06 AM
  2. What do you want in a cross country course?
    By FEIPony in forum Eventing
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: Apr. 11, 2010, 05:10 PM
  3. Get up and Go on cross country
    By Ecks Marx The Spot in forum Eventing
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: Nov. 4, 2009, 12:00 PM
  4. Went to my first cross country run!
    By AmandaandTuff in forum Eventing
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: Sep. 14, 2009, 08:58 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •