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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun. 25, 2011
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    Default Having Problems Seeing Distances. Advice?

    I'm sure there are threads on this topic already, but I couldn't find any, so I made my own! Anyway, I have problems getting a good distance to jumps. It's kind of a basic skill that I somehow missed, but it's becoming more obvious as the jumps get bigger. I can sometime see where I'm going to take off from, and sometimes not. And when if I see that I am headed for a sticky distance, I can't always tell whether to step out or collect. So one of two things happens...I just sit there and do nothing (except maybe lean forward, just to make things a little worse), or I make the wrong decision on how to change my pace and, again, I make things worse. So, unless I see a good spot already set up for me, I generally get a bad one. On a horse I know pretty well, I can sometimes see how to adjust to make it in well. On a horse with an unfamiliar stride, I'm unlikely to make the right adjustment. Attempting to get a good distance generally takes up my whole mind when I'm on course. I often end up staring down the jumps, until about three or four strides out when I am able to see whether or not I'm going to get a good distance.I also might mention that Ihave horrible depth perception even when I'm not on a horse, so that might be contributing to my problem. I have also tried to 'feel a good spot' instead of seeing one, but without any success. Obviously I'm missing something vital, and I'm hoping someone on here can help me out!



  2. #2
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    Mar. 22, 2005
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    Default

    My trainer has a 4 step way to finding a distance that works really well.

    Step 1: Establish your canter. You need a canter that's going to give you options - you won't die if you're a little long, and you won't trot if you need to collect for something short.

    Step 2: Establish your track. Find the center of the jump and then ride to something past it that is on the straight line.

    Step 3: Maintain your pace and track. One of the fastest ways to lose sight of a distance is to wobble off your track or decrease your pace! If it helps you to count out loud in the rhythm of your canter, don't hesitate to do so, and keep focused on your reference point beyond the jump!

    Step 4: Jump the jump and continue on your track to your reference point.

    It's worked like a charm for a lot of people!



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep. 23, 2010
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    565

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by supershorty628 View Post
    My trainer has a 4 step way to finding a distance that works really well.

    Step 1: Establish your canter. You need a canter that's going to give you options - you won't die if you're a little long, and you won't trot if you need to collect for something short.

    Step 2: Establish your track. Find the center of the jump and then ride to something past it that is on the straight line.

    Step 3: Maintain your pace and track. One of the fastest ways to lose sight of a distance is to wobble off your track or decrease your pace! If it helps you to count out loud in the rhythm of your canter, don't hesitate to do so, and keep focused on your reference point beyond the jump!

    Step 4: Jump the jump and continue on your track to your reference point.

    It's worked like a charm for a lot of people!
    The above is what I have always been taught. I also find that if I seem to be missing, I often am dropping my eye - staring at the jump too much or committing to a distance too soon.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul. 1, 2011
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    Default

    I have a pretty good eye but if I am on a horse that for some reason I have trouble with my eye I do this.
    As I get onto a straight line to the jump and I do an exaggerated blink. When I open my eyes again the distance usually shows up loud and clear.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct. 14, 2007
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    California
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    3,831

    Default

    I agree what others have said and would add what has helped me because I too have struggled with seeing my distances -

    Flat work. Adjusting your canter stride on the flat. Take more lessons. Ride more. Canter over ground poles.

    My distance ratio is getting better... I must ride more
    How people treat you is their KARMA.... how you REACT is yours!



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul. 2, 2003
    Location
    Woodland, Ca
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    6,206

    Default

    Straightness, balance and rhythm are the three ingredients to finding a good spot. Establishing all three is the hard part.

    For some people it helps to sing - Row, Row Row Your Boat is a good choice. For some people it helps to count - 1,2,1,2 - or 1,2,3,4, 1,2,3,4, or count down the last several strides or count up the last several strides. For some saying something like "I will keep my rhythm" over and over all the way around the course helps.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr. 26, 2006
    Posts
    394

    Default Seeing your distance

    You probably need to focus on your horse and your position...not the jumps. The canter should be in front of your leg and feel uphill. Obviously some horses have better canters than others. Yours might be one that needs to be "manufactured". This is established with good flatwork and your horse will need to be sound to carry himself right.
    If your horse doesn't have a great canter than you need to stay in the tack on the way to the jumps to keep both of you balanced. Keep your reins short and always feel that outside rein out of the corners to control your horse staying the same. If you have a habit of pulling on the inside rein out of the turn your horses canter will change...not what you want in front of the jumps.
    Practice several days in a row over low jumps and if you can get on several horses a day to practice that will really help! Riding once a week over jumps is not going to train your eye.
    Good luck... Maybe post a video.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec. 15, 2011
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    Maritimes, Canada
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    Default

    I have a student that came to me off a short strided medium, and put her on my big strided large, who, although has a lovely distance eating step, will break to the trot if you dont consistently have your leg on.

    When she was familiar with the pony and we started working over fences, I had her canter poles for awhile before I moved her up. I would set a 5 or 6 (large pony) stride line, and have her come in at different canters, and have her count out loud. Coming into the first pole she would count down from 3, then count strides between the line and have to adjust as necessary. Every time she came into the line (provided she had succeeded the last time in counting down to the approach), I had her add another number. So, 3, 2, 1; then 4, 3, 2, 1; then 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, etc. It gets harder as you add more numbers. This exercise really got her to know the ponys canter, and what it takes to adjust it (and when to adjust - and when to get the eye up, jam the leg on , and let the pony show her where the distance is!)

    In addition to counting, she had to re-learn how to turn into the line. This pony is super sensitive, and even a shift of weight will sometimes result in a swap at the base of the fence. My student had to learn how to make the turn, maintain a feel on the inside, but without bulging or going past the track. Alot of work on using outside aids (outside leg and outside seat bone in particular) to come through the turn has turned her into a great pilot for this pony. If she comes around the turn with a good canter, straight and completely balanced, with a slight hold on the inside to keep the lead, she usually never misses the distance.

    If your having trouble with distances, go back to the basics, canter poles and then x-rails, and move up from there when you have a feel of the canter that your horse needs. As riders, we sometimes interfere with a horses natural ability, so learning to trust your horse will help to sometimes let him find the distance, in most cases the horse will see a better spot than the rider anyway! Good luck!



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct. 4, 2003
    Location
    Clinton, BC
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    1,376

    Default

    Your job is pace, rhythm, balance and line. The horse's job is to go to the jump, and jump the jump. If you both work at the the parts of the job that are your responsibility, it works best.

    Do not "look" for a spot. The harder you look the more difficult it is to see. The more you look for it, the more you "pick" at the fences, lose pace and lose softness and relaxation in your body, and are less likely to find a good take off distance. Think ONLY about the things that are your responsibilty. Look AT the jump, feel the rhythm of the canter, and make NO changes. Keep just a little bit of lateral bend, especially coming out of a corner. The take off distance that will work will appear.

    The canter needs to be a middling canter, not too slow, not too fast. If balanced and if the horse has talent, he can adjust it as necessary to get to the take off spot that will work. If the horse does not have talent, he should not be jumping.

    If your horse has talent, and you keep in mind your responsibilities, there ARE NO BAD DISTANCES, ONLY BAD RIDES. That is a quote from somebody famous, but I forget who. If your horse has talent, training and experience, any distance blown will be attributable to one of those four responsibilities that are yours. A talented horse can jump successfully from any distance you can get him to as long as he has pace, balance, rhythm and line. When you truly believe this, and ride like this, finding the take off spots are no longer a concern. Until they are no longer a concern, do not be riding to bigger jumps because that would not be safe.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan. 11, 2009
    Posts
    293

    Default

    Honestly I find my distances easily, I'm not bragging. but I know other people who have trouble who have tried all of the things people above have mentioned. I found for every single person that has trouble seeing the distances that gridwork is the best thing you can do. It really helps your eye, and your position too!. Usually they will build something like this,
    http://www.amandabarton.co.uk/pages/jumping.htm

    Look at the pictures at the bottom of the page, im not from the U.K but this is what we do.
    Quote Originally Posted by SillyHorse View Post
    Some people wear Superman pajamas. Superman wears George Morris pajamas.
    This pretty much sums up everything!



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec. 5, 2005
    Location
    Northern Virginia
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    1,219

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by supershorty628 View Post
    My trainer has a 4 step way to finding a distance that works really well.

    Step 1: Establish your canter. You need a canter that's going to give you options - you won't die if you're a little long, and you won't trot if you need to collect for something short.

    Step 2: Establish your track. Find the center of the jump and then ride to something past it that is on the straight line.

    Step 3: Maintain your pace and track. One of the fastest ways to lose sight of a distance is to wobble off your track or decrease your pace! If it helps you to count out loud in the rhythm of your canter, don't hesitate to do so, and keep focused on your reference point beyond the jump!

    Step 4: Jump the jump and continue on your track to your reference point.

    It's worked like a charm for a lot of people!
    Your trainer should write a book! Couldn't have said it better myself.



  12. #12
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    Feb. 1, 2001
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    Finally...back in civilization, more or less
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    11,480

    Default

    One thing to remember is that horses can make a good jump from a pretty big range of take off spots. Trying to look for "the perfect spot" is kind of pointless, and usually - as you have noticed - is pretty ineffective. All you really have to do is get the horse within a few FEET of the "right" spot and you will be fine, assuming you have a decent canter to work from.
    **********
    We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
    -PaulaEdwina



  13. #13
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    Nov. 13, 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucassb View Post
    One thing to remember is that horses can make a good jump from a pretty big range of take off spots. Trying to look for "the perfect spot" is kind of pointless, and usually - as you have noticed - is pretty ineffective. All you really have to do is get the horse within a few FEET of the "right" spot and you will be fine, assuming you have a decent canter to work from.
    Totally agree with this. It is all about the canter. Pretty much every missed distance I have ever had has been a canter issue (generally that I do not have enough and then pick, pick, pick worrying about the distance until my options are long and weak or, um, deep and weak).

    I have heard people say "wait for the jump to come to you." This does not work for me at all and is in fact counter productive because I already want to ride backwards. The one thing that has really helped me a lot is to think "I am going TO that jump," which makes me think about a more forward canter. On the flat, I also catch myself pittering around with a crappy canter and then have to imagine that I am cantering to jumps in order to establish an appropriate pace.



  14. #14
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    Feb. 19, 2009
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    I definitely agree with getting that canter you feel you can do anything from (easily go forward, easily compress) and then maintaining that pace. I do the 1-2-1-2 counting thing, sometimes even out loud because I think hearing my voice also helps my horse maintain that pace.

    Also, canter poles have helped me so much in the past year. It so basic it seems silly but I think its an exercise that a lot of people overlook because everyone wants to jump! big! Its great because you still have to ride the same way you would to a jump, but then you don't have to worry about actually jumping something and its not a lot of wear and tear on your horse. I've actually had some really eye opening moments about my riding doing canter poles... Oh, and I like doing them when I'm not in a lesson. It has helped me figure out a lot on my own, which has translated to me being more independent and trusting my own eye more when I do have to actually jump a fence.



  15. #15
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    Nov. 2, 2009
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    Possibly reiterating, but my old trainer would put us on a long approach to a fence. Long approaches usually cause second guessing and picking, IME. I would spend the whole 15 or so strides picking and picking and lo and behold the distance was crap. So she told me to forget about the distance on that long approach and focus on pace. Is he speeding up or slowing down? Speeding up? So half halt. Now is he speeding up or slowing down? Slowing down? Leg. The more time I spent paying attention to my pace and keeping it the same, the more I found the distance always just seemed to materialize in the last 4 strides. Well, not materialize - it was there the whole time!

    I have a weird way of counting. My current trainer has me count 3 strides out "3..2..1" but in my head I find myself counting to 4. It's hard to explain. Like.. "1..2..3..4..1..2..3".. not specifically counting down or up to anything but constantly counting to 4. Sometimes I'm leaving on 1 sometimes on 4, it's not about what number but it helps me count my rhythm. I don't know, it's weird I guess but it helps!

    But really, constantly asking myself what my pace is like has worked wonders for my eye. Because then I'm thinking about the root of the issue, not picking at a bad canter in the first place.
    "Lord if we should fall, my horse and I, please pick my horse up first."

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  16. #16
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    Mar. 17, 2009
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    71

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    These threads are always really helpful. One thing I picked up in a prior thread was, on the long approach, look away for a second (or as someone said above, an exaggerated blink) to break your tunnel vision before looking back to the fence. This also gives you a beat to check in on the quality of your canter.

    I've also been working over a raised cavaletti to a small vertical 3 strides out, then moved back to 4, then at 5. I feel like if I can learn, 'oh, this is what three strides out looks like' and if I can also learn to trust that range of spots that lucassb mentioned, it will help. Right now, I don't trust the flowing, off-the-base distance, and want to pick and micromanage all the way to the base every time, and poof, there goes the quality of my canter and my distance.

    Deep down I know it's about the quality of the canter and the track, but getting the job done is harder than it looks!



  17. #17
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    Oct. 7, 2010
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    478

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    Quote Originally Posted by FineAlready View Post
    I have heard people say "wait for the jump to come to you." This does not work for me at all and is in fact counter productive because I already want to ride backwards. The one thing that has really helped me a lot is to think "I am going TO that jump," which makes me think about a more forward canter. On the flat, I also catch myself pittering around with a crappy canter and then have to imagine that I am cantering to jumps in order to establish an appropriate pace.
    I find this to be true as well. One thing that helps me is to focus on keeping my canter as I turn to the jump. If I "wait for the jump," I tend to allow my horse to slow through the turn and come off the pace, which leads to me having to make a big move (surge forward or pick, pick, pick, depending on my mood for the day). The more assertive I ride the corner, the better I am able to maintain the pace, rhythm and and straightness necessary to get to the jump without having to make a big move. Then, I can usually just allow my horse to sight in on the jump and take care of it.



  18. #18
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    Dec. 30, 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vixenish View Post
    These threads are always really helpful. One thing I picked up in a prior thread was, on the long approach, look away for a second (or as someone said above, an exaggerated blink) to break your tunnel vision before looking back to the fence. This also gives you a beat to check in on the quality of your canter.
    I started doing the same thing on my long approaches after seeing a thread on here and it's helped tremendously. At my last horse show there was an oxer set with a long approach going downhill off the right lead (aka my personal perfect recipe for disaster!) and this trick worked great, I nailed it every time!

    I've never had a very good or consistent eye but the more I ride and jump the better it gets. I wish there was an easy trick to improving your eye but after trying little things here and there I think, well for me at least, it's really just practice. I have noticed that the less I think about the distances the easier they are. Instead I focus on keeping a consistent canter and keeping my horse who's always more than happy to jump the right straight and there they are. And winter if the perfect time to practice over ground poles or low jumps too.



  19. #19
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    I used to sing a song, "Row, Row, Row your boat" to be exact, to the beat of the canter I wanted. It not only helped me keep a good pace, but it relaxed me and the horse (yeah I sang out loud). Might not work for everyone, but it helped me!
    Southern Cross Guest Ranch
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  20. #20
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    Nov. 28, 2006
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    Try to think of it this way - there is no perfect distance to any fence.

    There is a long distance, a short distance and a medium distance. Your pace, rythym and track will dictate which of these you get to. The secret to making it work is how you handle it - by supporting with leg, waiting with the shoulder, etc.

    Most of us will never be good enough to hit the "perfect" meidan one every time. Learn to support for the long and short and make them look good.
    Proud Member of the "Tidy Rabbit Tinfoil Hat Wearers" clique and the "I'm in my 20's and Hope to be a Good Rider Someday" clique



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