Newer jumper with questions - how to stop anticipating and just trust?
I have a rockstar large pony...he'll trot and canter any jump, is forward, happy, athletic and steady. Tries his heart out, "thinks" to the jump (does she want me to trot? canter?) He's a pleaser and a blast to ride. He has done it all (fox hunted, pony club, driving, hunter/jumper and loves cross country). I was learning to jump on my older horse who is now retired. Over the last few months I have gone from trotting jumps to cantering them. I am currently cantering small courses, mostly 18", a few 2'. I have an excellent teacher who I love. The pony is really a packer - he just gets it and is SO incredibly good. He always makes it...chipping in or from a long spot.
BUT...how do I stop "anticipating"? I can be halfway to the jump and I start anticipating, pulling back slightly and I almost always make my pony chip in an extra stride before the jump. I know mentally if I just trust him, he'll just do it. But I am still fearful and find myself trying to see the perfect spot at the base of the jump (and looking down a bit which I usually fix when I'm told about that!).
How do I get over this?? Ride more, I know...but what types of jumps (poles??), exercises can I do to just get to the jump in rhythm, smoothly and just trust the little guy? I haven't fallen, nothing horrible has happened, I am just being a weenie He is a saint and can easily clear higher.
I know this is just another hump in training and once I get over it I'll be fine, but it is holding me back some. I did read about "riding the back legs to the jump" and that is helping me.
Would love to know how others got over this point in their training. Thanks
Since this horse seems to be so trusting, is there any way you could do some no hands jumping? over small things. Little cross rails and such. But first and foremost, get a trainer if you can afford it. It doesn't have to be weekly lessons, just once a month, twice maybe. You may even know someone that would be willing to come out and help you a bit.
I have a trainer, and funny - she suggested some no hands jumping. I do take weekly lessons. She has done alot to help me but I personally am having trouble getting over the "anticipating" the jump coming to us, if that makes sense...vs. just letting him take me to the jump. It may just be saddle time that I need.
Stop trying to find the distance and instead focus on your canter - you want a good, medium canter with a consistent rhythm and a straight horse. If you have a canter like that and look up, the distance will take care of itself. To this day I have a habit of picking at the reins if I feel unsure, and if I am riding like that, I make myself grab mane a few strides out while softly closing my leg. A few jumps like that get me thinking forward again and fix any distance problems. The tricky thing about distances is the more you obsess over them, the harder they are to find.
Definitely don't think about finding a distance at such a low height. Just wait for the jump to come to you and let the horse work it out. It'll be hard to do this but the answer is: DONT DO ANYTHING. Just sit there and keep your leg on. I assume at the 2' heigh range, you're not riding a stopper, or something with nasty jumping habits, you should be on something safe and pretty easy which would allow you to simply sit there and stop worrying about the jump. I also advocate a good neck strap and no reins/closed eyes.
When ever a rider is being too handsy my trainer makes you put a neck strap on about two or three strides out you move your hands up to the neck strap and hold it. It stops you being able to pull the reins back.
I am a fan of grabbing mane, as I feel the neck strap gets my hands too low.
That said, I would focus more on finding a great rhythm and maintaining it to the fence, over it, and away. Don't worry about finding your spots or distances at this point. A good canter will eliminate a lot of issues, so just sit up and practice your nice even pace.
I used to have a problem with judging distances and either getting left behind or pitched forward. Here are a couple of things that my trainer did to help me with that:
1) Gymnastic exercises: great for grabbing mane, sitting in a half seat and leaving the rest up to the horse.
2) Circle of death: I started off with two ground poles at the 3 oclock and 9 oclock positions and then progressed to 4 poles. Then I turned the poles into crossrails an then jumps. By starting with poles and focusing on the quality of the canter, it became easier to go with the flow and not worry about what the horse was going to do and when. That made it easier to relax and just fold at the waist.
Get a good quality canter, and count 1, 2, 1, 2, while looking up not down at jump. Set ground poles randomly throughout the ring, and canter over them, concentrating on rhythm. Don't let reins get too long so your hands are in your lap. That'll encourage the throwing your body at the jump.
I have a similar problem: Superstar former A-circuit hunter, OTTB gelding, and a great owner/trainer.
Me; Haven't had access to any real riding instruction (some horsemanship, but not equitation) for the last 2 years, and no real jumping for 1.5 years.
I tend to jump ahead and my horse takes off long to keep me from going arse over teakettle. He goes because I'm asking him too.
My coach's big thing right now is "RIDE more. Think LESS."
You know you are physically capable of sticking the jumps. You know your pony is a rockstar that can get you over them no problem.
So stop thinking "Oh that angle wasn't great, oh I should have released a little more, oh that was good, crap I'm so stupid I'm posting on the wrong diagonal, where are we going? My reins are too short - my reins are too long! Gah *trainers name* why are you trying to kill me?"
Try you best to shut it off, just think, "Inside leg, outside rein, 1,2,3 next jump 1,2,3, over 1,2,3, fix your lead goofball, outside leg outside rein 1,2, 3"etc and you'll be shocked at how much better your course become.
Thanks everyone. Great advice. I did try a neck strap, but felt it was another thing to worry about Will try it again. I have looped a finger through mane and that does help me. Probably need to just grab mane more and let him go. Thanks for the great tips and advice! Will try to post back at some point with videos
I agree that counting one, two, one, two can be a great help. What can also help (if you aren't shy) is to tell a story or sing a song while jumping, or count in a foreign language that you know just well enough. This will occupy more of your thinking brain, and leave your feeling brain to get you to the jumps.
I agree as well that you need to look up and past jumps at that height, and just focus on being straight and keeping that even rhythm. Closing your eyes can really help. Just make sure you are looking up, and if your eyes are open, that they are "soft"...you don't want to be staring hard at something, just taking in the scenary.
Neck straps are useful, but it can also help to just make yourself more aware of when you are pulling back by flipping your hands over on the reins, so that the bight come out at the bottom, and the bit end of the reins runs between your index finger and your thumb...this can make it harder to stiffen up your arms/pull to the jump.
This is one thing where I don't think jumping more jumps is the key; if you practice getting nervous/tight to the jumps, you will just be instilling that habit stronger and stronger with each jump. Make sure you have a game plan to help with the issue before you aim at each jump, and even spend time visuallizing how you plan to ride each jump.
Poles are a good idea, but often horses could care less about the pole and won't help balance or reach like they would to a real jump, so in some cases this can make riders worry more that they need to help find the jump for their apparently blind equine. Instead of just doing random poles, instead set two far apart and try to adjust how many strides you get inbetween them. This can create more confidence in being able to effectively adjust your horse rather than really worry about the distance to the individual obstacles.
Finally, missing to 2'0" won't matter to your equine, so don't stress about it. When I was learning I was so paranoid about "Wrecking" my horse, that to this day I get anxious about jumping even though I have the skill sets to do it successfully. (again, why I say don't practice being nervous/tight to the jumps!)