Hello! I brought my mare off the track when she was 4 and started her in dressage (my old sport of choice). We both started our eventing career together last May when I started working as a student for two prestigious eventers in Culpepper, VA. We're going novice now and are always in the ribbons at recognized events (except for one, my fault) and I'm eager to move up another level after the start of the new season. But first, of course there are things to still be improved on before we take the leap.
The big thing is that she (as you can see) loves the long spots. She gets very eager to jump and sometimes I feel the hesitation, like she's thinking "mom hasn't said jump yet, but...but...AHGO!" That's a no-no for bigger fences so we're working on being more consistent with take-off.
This was our most recent round and a big improvement rushing-wise. She's usually a powerhouse and drags me around (see approach to final fence xD), but I think she's learning some patience and is finally soft and attentive. This is a little 2'9" hunter course and I must say, she behaved the worse at this schooling show than I think ever before (it was a huge turnout and the ring was packed during warm up, which I think got her hyped and in-season). She was backing up, turning, dripping sweat etc. before going into the ring. Gotta love the looks people give you at a hunter barn when your horse misbehaves.
But, thankfully, she knows her job and gets to work when I ask. My goal at this show: SLOW SOFT STEADY SLOWER STEADY SOFT SLOWWW.
I would appreciate anyone who critiques me in this video- none of the jump trainers I've had has ever said much about my overall position, but I know there's something to be improved. My biggest concern when jumping is to always stay out of the way of the horse- do no hit her back, do not hit her mouth. I know the video isn't the best quality, but anything the pros can point out would be much appreciated! Oh, and sorry for the long post. I admit I tend to have a lot of wind.
This is what I see. It doesn't look like your weight is firmly in your heel espcially over the top of the fence. This leads to you not folding over the fence. In between the fences it looks like you're scared stiff. You're not telling her to go to the base with your body hunched over like that, it's allowing her to take those fliers. I think everything leads back to the lack of base support beginning with your heels. On a good note your hands are very kind.
\"In all manners of opinion, our adversaries are insane.\" Mark Twain
You need more weight in the stirrups. Keep a flat back jumping, you are roaching (o/f and u/s)! Also, she is asking to be able to use her neck o/f, and you are not allowing it. Release! I suggest a nice forgiving crest release until your automatic release is ready.
I loved that area of VA!! I never made it to a show at Hazelwild, but my friend shows there from time to time.
When I looked at your video, I seriously thought someone had made a video of me, six months ago, on a different horse in a different arena.
RELAX. You are stiff as a board. Follow with your elbows, put weight in your stirrups, and move with her. You appear perched, and your body is stiff as can be. You are not allowing her to close your hip angle, which is also a no-no for bigger fences (ask me how I know). Your hips need to be mobile. Your position is EXACTLY how mine was before I got yelled at on a daily basis. Practice a rider's squat, as my trainer calls it. Stand up, squat back, flexing at the hip without throwing your upper body forward. Hard, unbelievably hard. Best to do this at a standstill the first couple times...
Your position affects your mare. She is rushing and taking long points because you are not directing. Between the fences you don't look like you're trying to put her together, which I understand is difficult on a hot, forward-thinking jumper. However, the more you think about the fence being one at a time, and using the time between fences to rebalance and regroup, the more organized you will be. She needs to sit on her butt. She's jumping with her chest (or so it appears to me). This again goes back to your position. You do a GREAT job of staying off her back the entire course, but perhaps work on sitting a few strides to get her together and lifting/using her back. Since you are not following her or closing your hip over the fences (I'm not talking about flinging yourself up her neck like a hunter princess) you are not getting her to really use her body properly over the fence.
Wow. Epiphany. I just typed out everything my trainer has been telling me for six months. HA! Seems to have stuck to my brain, thankfully!!
VERY cute mare!
"All your protestations aside, this has got to be on anyone's Top Ten list of Bad Horse Advice." - Ghazzu
I think you should do some freeze frames and look at your position over the top of the fence and then again as the horse is just landing. The last jump about :52/:53 is great to do this with.
I agree you don't have your weight in your stirrups and thus don't have a base of support. When you get a still frame draw an imaginary line from the back of your heel vertical and you will see that with your heel way behind your rear end it isn't doing much for you.
We can talk about your upper body but understand what's happening there is a direct reflection of what is happening with your lower leg and it will never be properly fixed until you fix the leg first. I would Rx lots of trotting in two-point. With every step think about dropping your heel and focusing on your weight sinking into your heel in rhythm with each stride, then go do more 2-point.
On your upper body what little closing of your hip angle you have is opened up even before the horse has reach the top of his arc. It is very tempting to look at your pictures and say you need to bend your upper body forward more over the fence. Don't think of it like that! What you need to do is squat over the fence. Your upper body doesn't go forward, your butt slides back. Here's a link to someone doing what's called a Romanian deadlift in a gym: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITe0gvQH7qU Watch his rear end--he starts the move reaching down by pushing his butt back. His weight still stays balanced over his feet and if you look at the vertical line again his butt is way behind his heel.
When your pushing your butt back your going to find that you can keep your hands on the neck and your elbows soft with some bend in them. A neck strap adjusted 1/3 of the way up the neck and grabbed with a couple fingers before the jump can help you remember to do that. On landing you should feel as if you landing over (or into) your feet.
Work on your position in simple gymnastics lines of very low fences.
I love your horse and I get a great feeling about the two of you as a pair! Go have fun...
Agree with the stiffness, no weight in heels, and not allowing your hip angle to close.
Some things that will help you...
1) Do transitions on the flat while staying in 2 point, and not using neck or reins to balance. w-t-w-c-t-c-w-c etc. Actually think about relaxing your ankle and just letting your weight drop down thru your leg, and thru your heel. Let your ankle stay soft like a shock absorber. If you are falling forward, your lower leg is too far back, and you need more weight in your heel. Make sure your aren't pressing into and pushing off the stirrup and the ball of your foot. If you fall back, your lower leg is too far forward.
2) set up a grid of about 5 low (2' or so) bounces along the rail with several trot poles before the first bounce. Knot your reins. (Start with one bounce with the poles on the ground for the remaining bounces at first, then add another, then another etc.) After each time going thru, stop in a straight line. Then trot thru it in 2 point, dropping your reins as you go through the trot poles and place your hands on hips and try to stay really still thru the whole thing. Let the horse jump up to you. Make sure you are looking up. Then do hands out to side, then on head, then alternate hand position over each jump, making sure you stay in 2 point. This exercise will help you learn to keep your leg under you, heels down, and let the horse close your hip angles.
3) set up a 5 stride line with 2 jumps at around 2'6". Trot into the first jump, and canter out in 6. Then, do 7. You'll need to sit up and collect a little. Then do 6, then do 8. You'll really need to sit up and collect. This will help you learn to use your body to teach your horse to wait for where you want to put her.
(Don't just keep adding strides each time. Alternate between 6 (normal for a 5 stride line that you trotted into, instead of cantering), and then a higher number. That way it keeps the horse listening instead of just sucking back and getting behind your leg.)
4) on the ground, belly dance or do a hula hoop to loosen your hips. Do some side to side stretches before you ride.
OP, I forgot to add, kudos to you for being brave enough to post a video and ask for help on here. I know firsthand how...intimidating...that can be. You two make a good pair. There is obvious chemistry, so don't get discouraged!
"All your protestations aside, this has got to be on anyone's Top Ten list of Bad Horse Advice." - Ghazzu
Thanks a ton, everyone. Most everything mentioned is pretty much what I saw when I watched the video (and Subk, I have watched it in slow motion. And super-super slow motion. And freezed a hundred times ). I can see what I need to fix but it's the how that I need to figure out. It's tough when you and the horse are learning to jump, together. And up until last summer, I was self-taught. Talk about an adventure.
RunNJump, I enjoy the area, as well. Plenty to do with the horses year-round (within a small driving distance).
Subk, the video of the deadlift is so helpful, and your explanation is simple but exactly what I needed explained.
Jetsmom, those exercises sound great!
And thanks to everyone. You guys are seriously grrreat!
First of all, you and the horse make a nice pair. There are definitely some improvements you can make in your riding that will in turn improve your mare's performance, but you seem to be well suited to one another and I applaud you for trying to improve!
I agree with those that have said you need to sink your weight into your heels more. I think your stirrups might be a touch long, leading you to get stiff and stand in them instead of sinking down into them. This in turn causes you to roach your back to follow her movement.
I think that one of the most helpful things you could do would be LOTS of grids and gymnastic work. Put your stirrups up a hole and practice folding at the hip, instead of the waist ... For some people it seems to work well to think about "sticking your butt out" behind you! With practice, it will become second nature.
Take off your spurs for a bit. Do lots of trotting around almost on the buckle with little random cross poles, and trotting immediatly after. Think of folding down to her neck over the fences, instead of staying out of her way. I agree that you've got a good hand, but need to release more, and that when your base gets more secure that folding instead of rising will feel more natural, and you'll find that letting her jump becomes easier.
I'm not sure that she's ready for being packaged up between leg and hand. Close, but not quite yet.