I spent yesterday at Capital Challenge watching some lovely lovely horses go around. Despite the caliber of riders, there were very few who had all perfect distances, rather they all had workable distances out of excellent rhythm and jumping efforts that were beautiful almost no matter what.
Some of the distances ridden were quite deep, and it appeared that the quality of the horse's jump really depended on its ability to stay really light and balanced in that last stride, to pat the ground, and those that succeeded had a great jump despite the deep or quiet distance.
So what are some specific exercises to teach a horse to stay that light and balanced in the last stride or so and maintain its jumping form? I'm looking for exercises beyond the obvious of shortening and lengthening in the gaits.
good post! i want to know too!
what month was the practical horseman. i get the magazine but dont read it alot until i have a problem then go back and look at old copies. i do love the magazine just no time to read!
My horse used to have difficulty jumping out of a tight spot (still doesn't like it, but he has improved immensely).
What we did were gymnastic lines, steep X-rails, and also practicing doing adds/double adds, going for the quiet one and "dropping him" there during lessons. Also FLATWORK WITH IMPULSION.
Through a combination of these efforts, he has gotten much more comfortable with the deep ones. By giving him a chance to figure it out on his own in my lessons, he has learned to rock back on his hindquarters instead of dropping his shoulder. I still opt for the long ones if I see both because I know he jumps better and will be happier that way, but now as long as I give him a little extra support when we're deep, he actually covers it up fairly well.
One good way is to set a gymnastic which is a vetical -- oxer -- vertical (set for a 1 to a 1). It can be jumped in both directions and it should have the same distance from each vertical to the oxer. -- This means that the horse, who will land closer to the vertical than he does to the oxer, will have a nice, but quiet jump in, and then a tighter jump out, no matter which direction it is jumped.
Set the fences so, when they are at 18" it is a comfortable, quiet distance jumping through. At the beginning the horse will not have to pat the ground because the distances are not tight.
As you raise the jumps, the distances get tighter until the horse HAS to rock back and pat the ground if he doesn't want to jump right through the 3rd fence.
The point of this exercise is not to make it easy for him. Do not move the verticals out -- when it gets hard is when he starts learning.
If he doesn't care, or cannot do it, and consistently has the oxer and/or vertical down, then there is a big hole in his basic work. He needs a lot of balance work and downward transitions through each gait to learn how to get his hind end underneath him and lighten his front end.
Of course, this attribute is what sets many above the rest, their ability to maintain their "shape" from almost any distance.
Keeping a horse engaged and active in their haunch at the walk, trot, canter and hand gallop.
Keeping their croup low and using their back, to do so, you need to raise their poll. So many are so worried about getting the head down, that will come.
Along with longitudinal exercises as you mentioned, lateral work as well.
Gymnastics, bounces are great, little to no ground line. Keep these low and don't overface and get ur horse too backed off.
Jumps with little to do fill, not so many rampy oxers/triple bar like jumps you see in the hunter ring these days.
Practice different distances and letting your horse do it, be sure to get him/her there with proper pace and track then its all them. Do NOT lift them off ground, hold them to death to the base, etc.
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"What gets me up every morning is realizing how much more there is still to learn." -GHM
Lots and Lots and Lots of trot fences. You won't believe how good a moderately tall vertical can be for teaching a horse how to really use itself over fences. Start low and then build. If it has the scope, you can jump a 3 ft vertical from the trot - easy.
Add a whoa immediately afterwards and you have a fantastic exercise for horses that like to hurl themselves at jumps and gallop off afterwards heavy on the forehand.
As previously mentioned, gymnastics are also great as is doing lots of flat work aimed at getting the horse off the forehand and working off its hind end.
Lots and Lots and Lots of trot fences. You won't believe how good a moderately tall vertical can be for teaching a horse how to really use itself over fences..
What do you do if your horse jumps trot fences without impulsion from the base or breaks into the canter before the last trot step. I need to start trotting fences and this has been my problem. Mostly lack of impulsion.