Is it is what it is or do you think that it changes (gets better as the horse ages/gets stonger?)
Horse is closer in age to 5 than 4, has compeated novice 5x. Horse can be tight-ish with the knees but would love to see knees in front of the horse, line from elbow to knee parallel to ground... knees are a little low and sometime loose... drapy over the fences.
if that makes any sense.... I'm thinking that the shoulder conformation makes the jump technique what it is and that nothing changes it.....
horse in question is aimed for lower levels (tr and below)
Is the horse quite athletic? Sometimes, some horses just don't jump as sharply at BN/N and even sometimes training level if they are athletic, scopey, and brave. The jumps may not be big enough to produce a really snappy jump..they could just really be stepping over them. Hard to tell without seeing the horse, how it goes, and how it looks doing the job, but that would be my first guess IF the horse is a real athlete (all that being said, one of my boys is stylish whether it's 2'6" or 4'...but the other one isn't quite as stylish, even at training level, unless the fence impresses him).
You can work on things with gymnastics to encourage better use of the body and legs. But as time goes on and the horse gets stronger, more educated, and moves up, the form may improve on its own....or, that may just be how it is.
How the horse is ridden is very influential as to his jumping form.
One can train a horse to jump in a mediocre form by consistently allowing it to jump that way, even if one is a good rider, just not a trainer. Even an athletic horse is only going to volunteer to be brilliant for just so long before he realizes he's not getting much help from the pilot.
I think jumping form is a factor of many things: breeding, conformation, training, consistent riding, shoeing, soundness. The younger the horse the easier to change the form, I think; when anything gets older it's hard to change habits!
Don't forget, the parallel forearm thingie is an ideal. There are many horses who jump beautifully, the grand prix horse Authentic comes to mind, who do not expressly have the perfect forearm yet are incredible athletes.
He could give me decent knees a year ago but definitely would have enough fences where his knees were not as tight. Now he is much more consistent about having his knees up and tight. I don't think it was anything to do with age (he was a green for his age 6 yr old when I got him and is now 8) but to do with training and muscling.
Test him thru a good grid with a nice Oxer out and keep rasing it hole by hole...you need a good rider who will place the horse well and set horse up.
I have seen many who trash X rails and lower stuff but excell over 3ft and a few who don't show much until 3'6....but you also answered a piece of the puzzleconformation does play a big part as well as athletic natural ability.
It also can do with timing of the rider. Even just getting ahead by a split second can effect the balance of a horse and their "knees" over fences.....even moreso on a green horse.
Honestly....if he is jumping easily and leaving the rails up....I wouldn't be so focused on his "knees". This isn't the hunters....and it seems a lot of people have an obssession about this. Some of the BEST jumpers in the world were not "tight" up front. Take a look at Opposition Buzz for example...more scope than needed for the 4* level...and I wouldn't call him a super tights knees to his chin sort of jumper....but I would LOVE to sit on him xc at Rolex!
Really...I focus more on the hind end. A horse who has really good mechanics behind is often more important to me than one who jumps with his "knees" up. Improving the hind end is much much harder than the front.
AND I don't worry about their form so much over little fences. Often the horses with the best form over sub-3' fences do not have a lot of scope for the bigger fences.
But in answer to your general question...yes, their form can change and can improve but it depends on the horse, their conformation and the rider on their back.
Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Aug. 9, 2011 at 10:37 AM.
** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **
Can you test him out free jumping? I like to start all of the greenies out free jumping and just let them figure out what to do with their bodies. It gives you a great picture of what they do with their form over bigger fences. I don't always feel comfortable cantering down to big fences on super green horses so the jump chute is my friend
If you don't have a jump chute you can also lunge them over fences. I have done this in the past when I couldn't use a chute.
I just posted a video in my blog with a horse having his 2nd free jump session. He is a 9yr who came off the track last year and is just being taught to jump. He shows a lot of natural ability but the form comes later. I just want to see how they use their shoulder.
With the green Tb's they are often not strong enough behind to push off well enough to get their shoulders up. It takes time to get all the muscling but I do want to see what their natural tendency is. A bigger fences if often the best way to test them.