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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct. 13, 2008
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    151

    Default Finding the distance

    What exercises can I do to develop my eye and find the right distance to the jump? I was jumping around 2' - 2' 3" this weekend, and I was riding terribly! I can't see my distance until I'm around 2-3 strides out, and by then it's too late to do anything about it if it needs to be corrected. I tried counting 5-10 strides out before the fence, but when I focus on that everything else falls apart (so it feels). What exercises does everyone else use to find their distances?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    May. 14, 2008
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    686

    Default

    Well, the first thing I have found when my distances start to suck is that I'm looking at the fence. I was jumping 3' this week with my trainer and she kept yelling at me about why my distance was off. To which I responded "because I'm trying to smack my eyes out on these rails!"

    Keep your eyes up, feel your stride length and don't get crazy trying to adjust your horse because it will just make matters worse for you. I never count, but i find three strides out is better. If neccessary, place a pole 9' in front of your jump and 9' beyond. This will compress the horse into that one stride and you can start feeling the distances better.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr. 28, 2008
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    7,220

    Default

    Experience is the best remedy for a lack of an eye, but there is no need to jump your horse to death. Set up poles on the ground and practice cantering over them while maintaining a good rhythm. A good canter is where good distances are born.

    To develop an eye, practice counting strides up to the pole from the corner. When you get more comfortable, count backwards from 8, starting where you think the distance might be. This will teach you what many strides out looks like, and with practice you will begin to associate your pace and line with your takeoff spot.

    The goal is not to "count strides" but to see what track you need to take around the corner to get to the base of the jump well and on the same rhythm. The counting is not important in and of itself, but doing it 8 strides out forces you to make a decision earlier. The sense of doubt is what messes up most peoples' eyes.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan. 24, 2009
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    15

    Default

    i've always had good luck with a small (somewhat wide) swedish oxer in the center of the ring. If you jump it on an angle (in a figure-eight patten) it will sharpen your eye right up...

    as a junior i had several very different mounts that took a little bit of work to transition between. this excercise worked on all of them...it can also help you get used to riding to different places that you want because the swedish oxer is a relatively easy and inviting jump to ride to...

    hope this helps!



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun. 17, 2002
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    Go Bucks!
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by fordtraktor View Post
    Experience is the best remedy for a lack of an eye, but there is no need to jump your horse to death. Set up poles on the ground and practice cantering over them while maintaining a good rhythm. A good canter is where good distances are born.

    To develop an eye, practice counting strides up to the pole from the corner. When you get more comfortable, count backwards from 8, starting where you think the distance might be. This will teach you what many strides out looks like, and with practice you will begin to associate your pace and line with your takeoff spot.

    The goal is not to "count strides" but to see what track you need to take around the corner to get to the base of the jump well and on the same rhythm. The counting is not important in and of itself, but doing it 8 strides out forces you to make a decision earlier. The sense of doubt is what messes up most peoples' eyes.
    Exactly what fordtraktor said! I'd like to add that finding a distance has as much to do about straightness as it does pace. Once you establish your pace through the corner (don't cut in or bare out), keep it consistent, ride the hind end, and be sure the points of your horse's shoulders are square with the fence and he/she is straight. Also, be sure to sit up straight yourself. Many times we tip forward as the fence approaches causing our horses to shorten.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun. 17, 2001
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    down the road from bar.ka
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    Default

    Don't think that if OP is jumping 2' to 2'3", a swedish oxer is going to help her find anything. Or even that it is appropriate.

    Instead realize that there is really no such thing as an x marks the spot distance-especially at heights so low there is no jump but just a step over.

    Work to just maintain your canter. Get a canter suitable for the height-which is slow and relatively small strided here at 2'. Just keep your canter and go over the little jumps. No need for a big release, stay about the same with your body.

    Lots and lots of work cantering over poles on the ground will help enormously. Set them about 10 feet apart and just canter them in however many steps is comfortable out of whatever canter you have. When you get better at it, you can start to move them out to about 12 feet and work on getting an add, a leave out and then the correct number-that has to do with controlling your stride length. In time you will learn to do that and, with the proper pace/canter you will always have a decent distance.

    Remember there are 3 "spots" for any fence. A deeper one. A longer one. One in the middle. Each is correct depending on the height and width of the jump. I'm thinking slow pace and deep would be correct for most 2' to 2'3" courses and these typically do not have any oxers-but you want deep to any spread fence so it is a good place to start. You can be longer to verticals and still be "correct". That middle one works for most of either.

    So relax. Stop looking for that x and just keep your pace steady.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb. 18, 2008
    Location
    Long Island
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    916

    Default

    A problem I used to have was staring down at the fence because I didn't "see" the distance to it. My trainer taught me that when I don't see a distance, I should look up and get my eye focused on something else, and THEN try to find it again (keeping the jump in my peripheral vision, not as the main focus).

    That being said, I still don't have the most natural eye, and I find distances a lot better on some horses (and even just some days) than others. My horse right now has a nice big metronome canter, so as long as I don't choke around the turn the distance is usually right there for me.

    Something that I did on my own time was practicing over poles. Set up a groundpole, and each time you go around decide "I will get a quiet distance," "I will get a medium distance," or "I will get a flowing distance," before you turn and get your eye on the pole. This will teach you that finding the jump is more about adjusting to the appropriate stride than actually knowing exactly how many strides you will fit in before the jump.

    Counting "1,2,1,2..." or "1,2,3,1,2,3..." has also helped me. Or even just counting "1,2,3,4,5,6..." has worked. What never worked for me was guessing how many strides I had left and counting down "5,4,3,2,1,jump" because if I was off by a stride I'd panic and lose my focus.

    I hope that these suggestions help!



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar. 27, 2002
    Location
    WA State
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    199

    Default

    Pick your pace and stay straight. Stay the same and then you should be able to see your spot 2 -3 strides out and either add a little leg or shorten your stride a little. Very simple concept, very hard to do.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar. 1, 2007
    Posts
    574

    Default

    Count your pace 1-2 like everyone says. That pace will get you to the fence. Now you say you can see your distance 2-3 strides out. Well, your there. That close and seeing your distance and staying on your pace, you just need to add leg, hold or just let go.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan. 24, 2008
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    1,527

    Default

    Count out loud-not softly under your breath. You are counting to feel the canter rhythm, not the strides to the jump. A consistent rhythm shows you the spot.

    And no kidding, if you are still blind, sing out loud. I sing "Dixie"-fixes me every time!



  11. #11
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    Apr. 4, 2001
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    gr pr, alberta,
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    Default

    imo... 2'6 and under is for developing feel ride your canter and feel the rhythm... you will hit a good spot 9/10 times. Once you have the canter rhythm ... your eye will come easier.

    Try riding lines of jumps... 2 verticals 6 strides apart. It's as marked out distance that will ride the same ... If you know your canter rhythm

    Ride the rhythm... get the distance.

    Once you get into 2'9 and up you should already have that rhythm AND your eye should be sufficiently trained to get you to a jump and peripheral vision BUT i'm a maxxed out 3'3 amateur in hillbilly country lol

    As for now... rhythm, rhythm, rhythm
    Carol and Princess Dewi

    **~Doccer'sDressage~**



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan. 16, 2007
    Location
    la la land
    Posts
    260

    Talking

    Sing!! Row Row Row your boat !! and stop stalking your fences..look up and at something else. Have your trainer stand in the middle of the ring and hold up her hand and look at that. practice your with polls first if that freaks you out.
    Works for me ... Good Luck!!



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct. 13, 2008
    Posts
    151

    Default

    Thanks everyone for the great tips! It feels like we can keep a pretty good rhythm already, but reading some of your responses I realized that I do (sometimes) stare at the fence. And like chawley said, I do feel myself tip forward from time to time, I guess in anticipation of the jump (this relates to the "when I count everything else falls apart" comment).

    But thanks for the advice everyone! If you guys can think of anything else, keep it coming!



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul. 10, 2008
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    1,931

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by findeight View Post
    Don't think that if OP is jumping 2' to 2'3", a swedish oxer is going to help her find anything. Or even that it is appropriate.

    Instead realize that there is really no such thing as an x marks the spot distance-especially at heights so low there is no jump but just a step over.

    Work to just maintain your canter. Get a canter suitable for the height-which is slow and relatively small strided here at 2'. Just keep your canter and go over the little jumps. No need for a big release, stay about the same with your body.

    Lots and lots of work cantering over poles on the ground will help enormously. Set them about 10 feet apart and just canter them in however many steps is comfortable out of whatever canter you have. When you get better at it, you can start to move them out to about 12 feet and work on getting an add, a leave out and then the correct number-that has to do with controlling your stride length. In time you will learn to do that and, with the proper pace/canter you will always have a decent distance.

    Remember there are 3 "spots" for any fence. A deeper one. A longer one. One in the middle. Each is correct depending on the height and width of the jump. I'm thinking slow pace and deep would be correct for most 2' to 2'3" courses and these typically do not have any oxers-but you want deep to any spread fence so it is a good place to start. You can be longer to verticals and still be "correct". That middle one works for most of either.

    So relax. Stop looking for that x and just keep your pace steady.
    excellent advice here. i found another exercise that is helpful to develop the eye is to set up a line, doesn't really matter how many strides are in it, and just ride through at your horse's natural, comfortable pace, not pushing or holding at all, and count. then say to yourself, "ok, this is what # strides LOOKS like." do that a few times. then come again, same pace, and start counting one stride closer to the fence. so you know what "#-1 strides" LOOKS like. this helps your ability to make a judgement call as you're coming to the fence and say to yourself, "hey this looks more like 5.5, i need to push/hold to get a more comfortable spot." although at this low height, as long as you have your pace under control the distance will find itself 90% of the time.



  15. #15
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    Sep. 15, 2001
    Location
    Queen Creek, Arizona, USA
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    1,446

    Default

    My trainer counts with us in the lessons and I had to make her stop, it was confusing me, especially if I had to move up to get it. I now count from one to five. For some reason, I can't find it at 6. My problem has always been that my horse is super responsive and has a monster ajustment. We can get 8 in a five or 3 and it is not hard or dangerous. She also jumps hard, so the inclination is to clench, which drives her forward, followed by holding her with my hands. It took a long time and a great many poles to "do nothing". I also find that at shows, when I am nervous, she becomes a tougher ride (for me). She is a super horse, doesn't stop, and goes to anything. The other problem is that I sometimes find I will just count the strides and not make the ajustment. Not sure why that happens other than I start focusing on too many things. My horse is a technical ride, I have to think about the set up for the change or getting the change over the fence. If I get bogged down in all of this thinking , I have a tendancy to just merrily count, miss the distance, get pissed off at myself, loose focus, miss the change, try to correct, loose pace, miss at the next jump. Well, you get the idea. So now, I try real hard only to think easy up to one jump and deal with the issues as they manifest.



  16. #16
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    Nov. 19, 2005
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    1,906

    Default

    Dumb question but has anyone tried eye therapy to improve ones ability to see the distance? Does depth preception (or lack of) affect the abilty to see a distance or is it just a matter of finding "the beat"?

    (Just wondering in light of the Larry Fritgerald being able to catch the ball with his eyes closed and he had eye therapy...)



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan. 12, 2004
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    Florida
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    2,004

    Default

    Agree with Rubs Not Pats . . .

    Actually "counting" distracts me, so I just work on establishing a good metronome pace (1-2-1-2) and maintaining the rhythm which allows you to anticipate and adjust during your course.
    "Horses give us the wings we lack"



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr. 25, 2000
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    8,909

    Default

    When I don't see a spot is when I'm crooked to the fence... My horse used to bow out pretty badly and as soon as I did a little rein to hip to straighten her up - the spot magically appeared.

    And my song of choice is Zippiedodah, or however you spell it.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec. 26, 2008
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    1,065

    Default

    When I work with my students to develop their eye I usually do it with poles....

    First you have to have a well established canter. As mentioned above a good pace means everything!

    Next make sure your looking up. When you stare at what you think is the spot you usually end up chipping. you end up dropping your entire horse and that's no good.

    Next I work with the poles. 10' out is pretty standard I think when jumping in, it may have to be adjusted accordingly if your horse has a long or short stride. With the pole there your horse will take off in the same spot every time, which helps you get a feel for a good distance. also with a visual on the ground you can keep your eyes up looking where you're going but still see the pole in the bottom of your visual range.

    You can make deeper distances by bringing the pole into 8' or longer by brining the pole out to 12'.

    This also works going down lines. Place a pole for every stride, this way there you can start to develop what each stride distance looks like approaching the fence.

    Again in order to do this you HAVE to keep your eye up and a good canter otherwise you stumble over poles...

    Good Luck



  20. #20
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    Jun. 13, 2000
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AdagioWA View Post
    Pick your pace and stay straight. Stay the same and then you should be able to see your spot 2 -3 strides out and either add a little leg or shorten your stride a little. Very simple concept, very hard to do.
    this is the most simple but effective explanation on how to find a distance. i don't miss very often. its not that i see my spots way out. i have learned to pick the pace appropriate for the jumps, stay in a rhythm, stay straight and keep coming. no chocking and sudden movements. somehow when you stay in the rhythm and stay straight, the distance seems to always be there. its when you start fussing and for me chocking up on the reins, that i miss the distance.



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