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  1. #1
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    Default Please help, when to sit back on approach to a fence

    I have a good friend and her horse is young w/o much mileage. She has been to many different trainers, and it seems as if the more, "forward" she rides to cross coutry the more her guy stops at the last stride. I do not mean forward as in fast, I mean as in a forward and balanced seat over his center of gravity. She has taught her horse in a more upright seat to jump, and now that things have changed, he is stopping more.

    Is this common? when you are riding a greenie should you be more upright in a defensive position? I really would love to be giving her some good advice, we know he needs mileage, but my goodness....we want this to get better....not worse.



  2. #2
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    Rare is the green horse who begins stopping simply because the rider is sitting a certain way.
    Click here before you buy.



  3. #3
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    There's a whole lot more to it than this.

    (1) Has the person with the greenie done his homework over gymnastic grids, so the young horse really understands how to use himself and where to place his feet? This is a prerequisite to being out there successfully at any level.

    (2) Is the youngster balanced and rideable enough that he can reliably be "rated" XC? IOW, can he be asked to extend and lengthen, then be half-halted back to "round & bouncy" reliably? Without a fight? At all? This is the stuff that you can't learn in a ring--takes lots and LOTS of wet saddle pads
    out hacking and teaching him to gallop over natural terrain.

    (3) Is the horse "up in the bridle," feeling like he's taking you down to the fence positively and pushing off powerfully and correctly from his hocks? Or on the last 3 strides approaching the fence, is he on his forehand, hollow or even "sucking back?"

    (4) What kind of fence is it, and what level are we talking about? The ride to a ditch often has a strong pre-defensive component that the approach to an uphill post-and-rail wouldn't need. Some fences you can "fly," many you have to "roll 'em in a ball" for.

    I'd say the default norm is to ride a tad behind the motion, hence the infamous "roached back" the H/J people so loathe. But as you see, it's a highly conditional answer! My best advice would be to find a good experienced event trainer or clinician to watch the two of them go and help them diagnose what's really going on, then do the homework! But remember always that it takes time, time, and more time!

    Best of Luck,



  4. #4
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    OP: please clarify...

    From you post I'm guessing that your friend is schooling at home in one position and then riding X-C in another. I'm pretty certain this is what you were getting at, but I wanted to check.

    I have a young TB mare who I'd like to event and I can tell you, even as a newbie to eventing (coming from H/J) that riding X-C is not the same as riding over stadium jumps at home. I don't know how many times you have been X-C schooling or if you are always going to the same place, but here are some things that might be going on:

    (1) A big open field looks quite different to a horse than an enclosed arena. Some horses aren't comfortable with the notion of a big open grass field.

    (2) There is probably a lot more "stuff" to look at where you are schooling X-C compared with the arena at home.

    (3) New environment: how often does your horse get off the property to see new places? Maybe it's just not used to traveling a lot and is nervous about these trips?

    With my own horse, I've found that she rides more forward on X-C, but I have to be careful to back her up by making sure my leg is on at least 1-2 strides out so she understands I want us to jump over the fence. That helps her confidence immensely. There are times when I've forgotten to do that when negotiating something totally new and had a refusal. Totally my fault. Usually the second time through I put my leg on and I can feel her "lock on" to the fence.

    I also have to be very aware of what I'm doing with the reins. If I get grabby or have too much contact and don't have soft arms then she will get worried about her ability to carry herself over the jump. A lot of young horses get anxious if the rider has too much contact and they will either refuse, run out or rush the fence.

    Some horses are really sensitive to the rider's position so if the rider gets too forward, the horse may feel off balance and get nervous. As Deltawave said though, there could be other things going on.


    Would you be able to video your friend schooling at home o/f and schooling X-C? There may be things she herself sees when reviewing and comparing the videos.



    Edited to add: are any of the trainers you referred to the kind that have a lot of experience working with young horses? In my case, my trainer has started a ton of babies and is very good at it, so he's understood exactly what I was going through and how to fix the problems.



  5. #5
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    Default

    She has worked with very good trainers. The horse has mileage, but not a ton of x country mileage. Before, she was riding much more defensively to the fences ( yes, roached backed and in the tack). They have plenty of wet saddle pads. Her guy seemed to do better with that type of ride. Now fast forward, different coach, new position, more stops than before.....someone else gave her the old advice, sit up, and back and drive to the fence. He was a champ.

    So, she loves the idea of the forward pretty ride. She hates the idea of being a yard dart. Does it ever get to the point you can switch to pretty, or do you work at effective. I have a good friend from long ago, that evented through advanced, I am going to chat with too. I really want to see this team excell. I however do not teach what I do not know.....and this one has me baffled.

    Any advice for horses that stop that last stride ( besides, hit them).



  6. #6
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    "Any advice for horses that stop that last stride ( besides, hit them)."

    Leg on 1-2 strides out. That works for me.

    In my opinion, even though I'm new at this, one should work on effective first, particularly if the horse/rider combination is having issues. In George Morris' column in Practical Horseman, I've seen a few photos of event riders. One particular one sticks out in my mind where he said something like "This is not the classical jumping position but it is a secure one and over a trappy fence like this, the rider needs it"

    I don't think a round on X-C, at least for me, would ever look like something out of BigEq. I don't think X-C is meant to be ridden that way. As for the "pretty" thing, I think there are people who look amazing on X-C, but again its not the classical type of position that GM refers to.



    I think that speaks volumes.


    The way I used to ride in 2-point as a H/J is very different than what my current trainer (eventing) is having me do. My weight is a bit farther back and my hip angle is more closed. This position, when I manage to get it right, gives me a more secure feeling over the jump particularly when doing something spooky that my horse might look at or put in a bigger jump over than she needs to.
    Last edited by SnicklefritzG; Jun. 10, 2012 at 10:29 PM.



  7. #7
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    I think she is going to go to someone that has had/reschooled horses that are young and or had issues. I feel strongly that she needs a fresh opinon on this, as it should be getting better, not worse.



  8. #8
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    Does it ever get to the point you can switch to pretty, or do you work at effective
    Define "pretty", and explain why anyone would want to draw a distinction between "pretty" and "effective". Effective *is* pretty.
    Click here before you buy.



  9. #9
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    I agree with the others that the position is probably not the main issue, but I will say that I have a small horse with a short neck and if I get too forward on him, he gets cranky and downhill and kicks out/swaps leads/bucks into his fences. So horses can respond negatively to certain position but this sounds more like a young horse issue.
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  10. #10
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    Horse needs to be in front of leg.

    Seat has little to do with it unless she is not solid enough in her basics to know how to use the leg, and when she sits, she takes her leg off. That is, if the horse has been trained to be in front of the leg. Our horses are a function of our riding. It's not the horse, the saddle, the trainer, the fly spray, the saddlle pad, the trainer, the trainer's sunglasses or whatever....
    "Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring." -- Emerson
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by RTF View Post
    Now fast forward, different coach, new position, more stops than before.....someone else gave her the old advice, sit up, and back and drive to the fence. He was a champ.
    That actually isn't great advice....you shouldn't be "driving" to the to fence. You want to keep the same tempo and rhythm to a fence. Also, where a rider's seat is has nothing to do with keeping the horse in front of the leg. Your seat does NOT make them go. Take your leg off a horse at a standstill and try and make them walk forward from your seat....

    BUT on a greener horse--especially xc.....a rider should be tall with their upper body and touching the saddle with their seat lightly a few strides out. This is to ensure the rider keeps their balance back a bit, doesn't get ahead and can be safe if the green horse stutters in front of the fence. Once more experienced, you can stay up in two point and just keep coming over the straight forward galloping fences.. It is a feel for when it is ok to not come back--so I would trust a rider to either know, or an experienced trainer who knows the horse/rider.

    But what a rider should do all the time is whatever is needed to go with their horse over the fence. And they shouldn't drive fwd unless the horse drops behind the leg.

    Sounds like this rider might have a tendency to do too much or gets too much in the back seat--(and why a trainer may tell them to stay up off their back). There is a balance between keeping the horse in front on your leg so they do not stop and rushing them off their feet---and staying back with your balance to ensure they jump to riding too defensively and over riding a green horse.

    She needs to trust her trainers and talk to them...as this is something you need good eyes on the horse and rider helping them.
    Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Jun. 11, 2012 at 11:54 AM.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by retreadeventer View Post
    Horse needs to be in front of leg.

    Seat has little to do with it unless she is not solid enough in her basics to know how to use the leg, and when she sits, she takes her leg off. That is, if the horse has been trained to be in front of the leg. Our horses are a function of our riding. It's not the horse, the saddle, the trainer, the fly spray, the saddlle pad, the trainer, the trainer's sunglasses or whatever....
    “Always saddle your own horse. Always know what you’re doing. And go in the direction you are heading.” Connie Reeves
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by retreadeventer View Post
    Our horses are a function of our riding. It's not the horse, the saddle, the trainer, the fly spray, the saddlle pad, the trainer, the trainer's sunglasses or whatever....

    This is epic Retread! Do you mind if I quote you on facebook?



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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by RTF View Post
    when you are riding a greenie should you be more upright in a defensive position? I really would love to be giving her some good advice, we know he needs mileage, but my goodness....we want this to get better....not worse.

    Defensive yes, more upright? Not necessarily. As a rider you "are" where your center of gravity is, not where your shoulders are. So this is a more defensive position than sitting vertically.

    I agree with those who say it is all about making sure the horse is truly in front of the leg. But on a stopper, I would definitely be more in this position in the final strides of the approach - along with really keeping the leg on and possibly adding a tap with the whip as a reminder.



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  15. #15
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    When I ride out of the tack I tend to get too far forward while galloping because I'm more "standing up" in 2 point then "sinking down" into 2 point. Then my shoulders go forward and my leg swings. On an honest horse it isn't a problem, on a chicken horse it is a problem.

    My guess is her horse is a bit of a chicken and when she gets out of the tack her leg comes off and her shoulders go forward. I'm not saying you will not ever sit down and drive to a fence, but if you're doing it at every fence you certainly don't have an easy horse.



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by lstevenson View Post
    Defensive yes, more upright? Not necessarily. As a rider you "are" where your center of gravity is, not where your shoulders are. So this is a more defensive position than sitting vertically.

    I agree with those who say it is all about making sure the horse is truly in front of the leg. But on a stopper, I would definitely be more in this position in the final strides of the approach - along with really keeping the leg on and possibly adding a tap with the whip as a reminder.



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    Trouble is, if you start riding them that way all the time, basically anticipating a stop, they'll often give it to you. Stephen Bradley called this "riding to a stop" when I was going through this obnoxious phase with my old guy.

    Believe it or not? His cure was the last thing in the world I would ever have thought of; ride to the fence with the reins looped, and give him the confidence of a "pure Caprilli" release. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes . . . but weirdly, that was what it took to cure my "dirty stopper."

    I'll leave "doing the math" to you guys . . .



  17. #17
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    If sitting up more and riding more aggressively to the fences makes the horse go better, do that. I get that she wants to look more "correct", I do, but first and foremost you have to ride the horse the way it wants to be ridden.



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by SwampYankee View Post
    Trouble is, if you start riding them that way all the time, basically anticipating a stop, they'll often give it to you. Stephen Bradley called this "riding to a stop" when I was going through this obnoxious phase with my old guy.

    Sitting in somewhat of a defensive position for your own safety, and riding agressively in that position are really two different things.

    Yes, some timid horses become even more fearful when pushed aggressively. It probably feels to them like running in a dark alley. But many timid horses become gradually more bold with a rider who really encourages them when they back off.

    And every rider will be more safe if they are sitting in a defensive position when the horse they are riding attempts to refuse.



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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by lstevenson View Post
    Sitting in somewhat of a defensive position for your own safety, and riding agressively in that position are really two different things.

    Yes, some timid horses become even more fearful when pushed aggressively. It probably feels to them like running in a dark alley. But many timid horses become gradually more bold with a rider who really encourages them when they back off.

    And every rider will be more safe if they are sitting in a defensive position when the horse they are riding attempts to refuse.



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    I probably should ride a bit more defensively, but I definitely ride as aggressively as I need to, and I leave that up to the horse. If he starts getting looky, hollow and wiggly, the "aggression" escalates. I really don't view it as aggression but rather strong "encouragement". After all, if I'm not sure about what we're doing, why should he be?
    Quote Originally Posted by retreadeventer View Post
    Horse needs to be in front of leg.

    Seat has little to do with it unless she is not solid enough in her basics to know how to use the leg, and when she sits, she takes her leg off. That is, if the horse has been trained to be in front of the leg. Our horses are a function of our riding. It's not the horse, the saddle, the trainer, the fly spray, the saddlle pad, the trainer, the trainer's sunglasses or whatever....
    Love this, Excuses, horse blaming and "spin" on bad rides makes me want to puke. I will occasionally default to this and then I'll get a well deserved verbal bitch slap from one of our real eventer friends. A real friend will do that for you.



  20. #20
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    Quote:
    So, she loves the idea of the forward pretty ride. She hates the idea of being a yard dart. Does it ever get to the point you can switch to pretty, or do you work at effective. Unquote

    Effective is efficient.
    Effective, in eventing is survival.
    Pretty is for hunter riders, with steady striding and even ground, and gentle turns.

    A shift in teachers may be the best approach.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.



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