OK, so please excuse me if this is a little garbled... I got my braces on yesterday and have been on/off sleeping all day... and I'm in a lot of pain So bear with me, please.
I am currently riding once a week on a chestnut Appaloosa mare She takes incredibly good care of me even with a spook interjected now and then. We've moved up to consistently jumping about 18" - 2'.
I have also started seeing distances. The problem with this...is that I almost always see the long one. On Thursday, we were doing a diagonal line where you canter in, jump a crossrail > 5 strides > ~2' vertical. We got the 5 alright, but we ALWAYS took the long one. Thankfully I have mastered the beautiful "crest release to the ears" method so I wasn't hitting her in the mouth at all, but after going long 2-3 times I started anticipating the long distance and started leaning. No matter how much I tried to think about sitting back I just kept leaning. Any suggestions on how to just let the jump come to me? I do a lot of no stirrups on the flat but I think if I tried jumping with no stirrups I would fall off and die.
Proud member of the COTH Junior (and Junior-at-Heart!) clique!
Your balance over a fence should not be your hands. Get rid of them!
Seriously though, you can't lean up the neck if you have nothing to lean on. If you have a horse that will maintain straightness through a gymnastic, let go of the reins and do it with your arms held out to the side. Tie your reins in a knot first though. You need to focus on sitting a deep seat all the way to the BASE of the jump. Small fences require nothing more than a slight tilt forward, and the horse comes to you.
If you can master jumping without reins, you can forget that crest release and develop the skill for a automatic release. Crest release to the ears is not beautiful riding. The automatic release is much more ideal.
Focus on your canter. I'm going to guess you might be a bit behind rythym.
Also, even if you do see the long one, just sit up and leg on. Leaning is such a bad habit and if your horse decides to stop, you will be SOL! I have this habit too, so before every fence I basically just say "sit up!" to myself.
And if you're riding with a trainer, they should be giving you tips on things to be changing. I know that my trainer would be yelling at me if I did the same crappy distance every time! She would either ask me about my canter, or have me change my track, have me think about straightness to the jump, etc.
I agree with KateKat. Its sounds like you either don't have the right step (normal 12' stride depending on how the lines are set) or the horse is behind your leg or a little of both. Most likely I'd guess the horse is behind your leg. When a horse is in front of your leg they are responsive to the leg aids and they generally feel lighter in front. To me - this is the key to having the jump come to you.
I guess another possibility is that the lines are not set properly. Smaller jumps mean a smaller arc over the fence and that can make a line set on the 12' stride suddenly ride a little long.
I agree with the advice about getting a better canter, but for just the leaning part: it helps me to think "lean away from my hands" for the few strides before each fence. For some reason that visualization helps me more than just leaning back.
Get in two-point position 10-15 strides before the first jump and stay still until the jumps are all cleared. At 2', your position shouldn't change much, if not at all! Keep your rein at the same lenght and press on your horse's neck over the jump in order to balance yourself and push your upper body up and away from the neck instead of leaning.
Let the horse jump by himself, wait for the fence to come to you and let the horse close your hip angle in the air, don't push on the stirrups.
Practice your two point position and work without stirrups a lot!
A more forward canter will help, but no one has mentioned being patient. I think you might be trying too hard to find the distance and, as a result, you are getting the long spot. It happens to everyone. Really try to just take a breath and think about waiting to get to the base of the jump.
A "crest release to the ears" isn't doing your horse any favors. In fact it is probably making it more difficult for the horse.
At that size jump the long spot shouldn't be an option. You should work on taking the shorter distance and adding down the line. I personally feel that until the jumps get to 2'6"+ you should always add a step down the line and/or do the add up at the fence. Otherwise instead of naturally letting the horse move up when the fences get higher you are fighting for a whoa down the line.
I think once you start finding the other (deeper) distance you will have an easier time finding the "right" distance.
(I think the OP was being tongue-in-cheek when she said "beautiful crest release to the ears" - that's how I read it, at least. If she thought it were lovely, she wouldn't be asking for advice on how not to lean!)
another thing I forgot to mention is canter poles. Cantering poles solved a number of jumping issues for me because if you mess up at a pole, big freaking deal! If you're leasing this horse, hopefully that also means you get some hack time on her. So next time you ride, just set up a little canter pole course for yourself and practice, practice, practice.
Most heard sentence from my instructor during my jumping lessons: "I SAID DON'T LEAN!"
So I feel your pain. Overtime and unfixed it has caused a rushing problem with my horse.
What has helped me is canter poles and catering a small crossrail on a circle, singing "Row, Row, Row your boat" to help me keep a nice rhythm.
My instructor does not want me in 2 point strides out. She wants me to sit up and back and wait regardless of the fence height. I almost feel like I am leaning backwards when I am in the approach position she likes. But when I focus on sitting up, riding to the base of the jump and waiting for the horse to close into me, the jump feels so much better.