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  1. #1
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    Default UPDATE!...any tall riders on short horses, please help me out!

    My gelding Bailey is a 15.1h Arab/QH. He's got a heart of gold, a spunky side that drives me insane yet I adore, and doesn't even have to *try* at Novice. In fact, I'm pretty sure he does the course with his eyes closed, just for kicks. We are gearing up for a move up to Training in May (fingers crossed).

    We had a pretty intense SJ school yesterday, with the fences set at Training height. My main issue is closing my hip angle over fences (hence the reason I can spot it a mile away on other people). I always feel like I'm going to end up between his ears. I'm 5'8", with a long torso. I know how to close my hip angle, and sink back, but its like my brain completely freezes. He's honest and scrappy enough to make up for my mistakes, but I am SO frustrated with myself.

    When I first started jumping, we had mainly naughty ponies and greenies, so we had to ride VERY defensively, and so a more upright position evolved. I've made it work, and even had a clinician say "Well, its your own style, but it works". However, it doesn't work anymore, not at bigger fences. I was looking at XC videos, and I just want to scream. I still release and follow, but my position is crap!

    The hard part is I don't feel when I freeze. I was almost in tears yesterday because I was SO mad at myself. We did a horrible round, then a fantastic round, but I still couldn't feel myself freezing, even with my trainer screaming "RIDE THE HIND LEGS!" and various other statements we've discovered make me think about staying with him.

    So, what advice do you folks have for me? I feel like I'm just too tall for Bailey, but I *know* that is not an excuse. I don't (or at least that's what I'm' told) freeze nearly as bad on Sky, but he's 17h and my hip angle closes easier. Do any other tall riders on shorter horses have the same problems?

    Update 4/17 -

    I was talking with a friend last night asking if she were me, if she would move up, and listed the reasons I was hesitating, our SJ being #1. She in turn surprises our trainer with the question, who in turn responds with "Why wouldn't you!?" After talking with both of them, and being reminded that basing decisions after one bad jump school (which started this thread in the first place) my confidence has been restored. Of course, it also helps that I had an awesome jump school on my TB and I had a couple lightbulb moments.

    DW you'll like this - yesterday I just hacked around the arena on Bailey in my jump saddle, with my stirrups two holes shorter, and they were PERFECT. I played around with my position, worked on balance, and went in and out of two point what felt like a million times, and they felt great. My knee wasn't happy, but I survived

    SO! Our entry for Galway, Training level, has been sent! Cross your fingers!!
    Last edited by runNjump86; Apr. 18, 2013 at 01:50 AM. Reason: new info



  2. #2
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    Have you tried jumping bareback? It's not real forgiving of really getting up the neck, and it may give you the right "feel" for folding back.

    I had a lovely little 14.3 (on a tall day!) hony I competed several years ago, and I'm 5'9". She was super athletic, and I never really felt like I was way up her neck, but we also bounced around bareback fairly frequently



  3. #3
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    Default

    I'm 5.11 and almost all leg, so don't have the issue of a long torso, in fact I have a short torso. I do ride small horses. My young guy is 15.2 maybe and my older qh is 15.1. my legs hand on them and if I screw up, they are thrown off balance easily, which im sure you understand.

    I tend to stay in the center and let them work because that was easiest for them. I did a lot of small jumps 2 ft and under to get my position right because like you I tended to sit back and be defensive due to not the most honest rides. Just building a confidence and correct position over the tiny jumps was the best for me and also helped my hip angle over fences. Maybe try that?

    Another thing and this sounds dumb, but it helped me a but was walking in two point and adjusting my position before I jumped.

    You know, I like the smaller rides, they just are more fun imo.
    I am on my phone 90% of the time. Please ignore typos, misplaced lower case letters, and the random word butchered by autocowreck.




  4. #4
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    Are your stirrups short enough?

    A h/j trainer friend of mine has been schooling some fancy hunter ponies recently, and commented that her stirrups go up 5 holes (give or take) when she rides the ponies. I am reminded that even for me (I am not tall and I actually look appropriate on large ponies and small horses), when I ride something a little smaller or narrower, I need to go up a couple of holes. You may want to play with your stirrup length on the small guy, especially if you don't adjust them from one horse to another.

    I also second jumping lots of little jumps. Get in your two point and just canter around small fences and DON'T MOVE. What you are describing isn't really a "small horse-tall rider" issue, but a "I rode crap horses for years" issues (BTDT). You have to learn to trust a bit, and to learn to let yourself go a bit, probably.

    Last piece of advice- watch videos. Watch WFP on just about anything, but particularly Tamarillo, who was a tiny ride for him. Mark Todd on Charisma. Karen on Teddy (Karen isn't huge, but Teddy was definitely NOT BIG). All of these horse/rider combos I think show great examples of how to stay centered and still so as not to unduly influence a little horse, yet help them out as best they can, as well.


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  5. #5
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    I don't think I had the same problem when I rode my shortie but honestly....it isn't the height of your horse. It sounds like you just have a mental issue.

    Freezing is NOT uncommon....especially when we are outside our comfort zone. You know how to let the horse close your hip. Practice with super short stirrups and for me....LOTS of core work.

    But ultimately, the issue is more the "freezing" and that has nothing to do with your hips or your horse's size. That just has to do with you dealing with the pressure you are feeling when pushing yourself. So first....try not to add pressure to your self. No beating your self up. Many of us deal with or have dealt with this issue. It is mental and it will take time and work but you will get better about it.

    Make sure you do not over face your self...push in smaller steps. Break down what is making you nervous. Breath....count....pick fewer things to work on. You need to find what works well for you. For me, it was the move up to Prelim....and what I had to do was jump more and BIGGER. I had to school a lot higher and that got me then thinking prelim was no big deal and I stopped freezing. So now with my current green horses and my current rusty riding, I know that I need to over prepare (and be over fit) and that ultimately gets me more comfortable. The horse I'm most uncomfortable on is actually big...he's more horse than I like to ride so I get more uncomfortable jumping him. So I have to work on riding him more. But I guarantee...the more you do, the more comfortable you get with the height etc.....the less you will freeze up, and your hips will start working again.
    ** The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits. -- Albert Einstein **


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  6. #6
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    Freezing is what I did to keep my body from unduly tipping my little horse when he stumbled over a jump. I wanted to keep my body stable so he could rebalance. Is that perhaps what is going through your mind when you freeze?



  7. #7
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    When I help riders with defensive positions that they developed early on, I set up a a ground rail to cross rail and have them ride it at a trot, holding the mane with their eyes closed. Since there is no anticipation about when their horse will jump, this allows their body to follow naturally. Once they are following naturally, which happens immediately as long as they hold the mane and close their eyes, I add another cross rail, etc, etc.
    Equestrian art is closely related to the wisdom of life - Alois Podhajsky



  8. #8
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    I'm also 5'8" and rode a small-bodied 15.1h Appy for several years, including at Training level. I *had* to keep a bit of a defensive position or I'd wind up on top of his neck. This was fine with me--I prefer to stay a bit in the "back seat" anyway and it was much EASIER for him if I did so.

    Why do you have to "close your hip angle" over the jumps? Because it says so in an equitation book? I don't mean it's OK to ride poorly, but if you are competent, balanced, safe, staying out of his way and giving him a good ride, forget about what your equitation looks like.

    I always find it very difficult, especially this late in the game, to change my "position" by trying to do this or that differently. But sometimes a lesson from a different instructor can give me a new way of looking at things, even though my trainer is great and knows both me AND my horses well enough to spot my flaws almost before they happen.

    So lessons from clinicians or a different trainer can often help me to figure out a new way of doing things. But in the end, I don't sweat the details too much, like "am I closing my hip angle?". If I'm riding competently, the horse goes well. If that won't win me an equitation class, well, I don't care.
    Click here before you buy.


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  9. #9
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    I'm 5'11", all torso, stumpy legs. My best TB was 15.3 with a short neck. I had trouble with distances and recovery after jumps. I learned to sort of snap my upper body back into position before his front feet touched the ground bc otherwise it felt like we would both go face first into the dirt. I did that a few times, thankfully he let me do that part of the training alone. He and I started from scratch when he was 3, went from BN-Intermediate together. Basically we compensated for each other and got the job done. Too many details will be your demise. Ride him forward with a steady leg and a soft hand and have fun! You can always set up exercises to help yourself stay out of his way but basically, stay quiet and enjoy your time with him.
    Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by RiverBendPol View Post
    I'm 5'11", all torso, stumpy legs. My best TB was 15.3 with a short neck. I had trouble with distances and recovery after jumps. I learned to sort of snap my upper body back into position before his front feet touched the ground bc otherwise it felt like we would both go face first into the dirt. I did that a few times, thankfully he let me do that part of the training alone. He and I started from scratch when he was 3, went from BN-Intermediate together. Basically we compensated for each other and got the job done. Too many details will be your demise. Ride him forward with a steady leg and a soft hand and have fun! You can always set up exercises to help yourself stay out of his way but basically, stay quiet and enjoy your time with him.
    Pol, I was SURE you were going to post and talk about riding LUCY!!!!
    ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan



  11. #11
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    Same here!
    I rode hunters/EQ for about 6 years, so I overdo the 2 point sometimes...
    I am 6ft tall and Koda is 15.1hh. I have had to work super hard to be much slower with my upper body over fences and still give him a big enough release. There is hope
    And it's worth it!
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  12. #12
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    Ok, here goes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Simkie View Post
    Have you tried jumping bareback? It's not real forgiving of really getting up the neck, and it may give you the right "feel" for folding back.
    I LOVE jumping bareback, but honestly I need to do it more often. I've also spoken with my trainer, and we both agree that I just need to jump on a more consistent basis.

    Quote Originally Posted by FLeventer View Post
    I'm 5.11 and almost all leg, so don't have the issue of a long torso, in fact I have a short torso. I do ride small horses. My young guy is 15.2 maybe and my older qh is 15.1. my legs hand on them and if I screw up, they are thrown off balance easily, which im sure you understand.

    I tend to stay in the center and let them work because that was easiest for them. I did a lot of small jumps 2 ft and under to get my position right because like you I tended to sit back and be defensive due to not the most honest rides. Just building a confidence and correct position over the tiny jumps was the best for me and also helped my hip angle over fences. Maybe try that?

    Another thing and this sounds dumb, but it helped me a but was walking in two point and adjusting my position before I jumped.

    You know, I like the smaller rides, they just are more fun imo.
    I feel like I throw him off balance, so yes I know exactly what you're talking about! We tried the tiny jump thing, and it didn't work whatsoever. Partly I think because Bailey doesn't pay attention to anything under 3', so when he doesn't put forth an effort, its even harder to force myself into the correct position. I agree, the small horses are fun! I swear, we have hang time, LOL!

    Quote Originally Posted by yellowbritches View Post
    Are your stirrups short enough?

    A h/j trainer friend of mine has been schooling some fancy hunter ponies recently, and commented that her stirrups go up 5 holes (give or take) when she rides the ponies. I am reminded that even for me (I am not tall and I actually look appropriate on large ponies and small horses), when I ride something a little smaller or narrower, I need to go up a couple of holes. You may want to play with your stirrup length on the small guy, especially if you don't adjust them from one horse to another.

    I also second jumping lots of little jumps. Get in your two point and just canter around small fences and DON'T MOVE. What you are describing isn't really a "small horse-tall rider" issue, but a "I rode crap horses for years" issues (BTDT). You have to learn to trust a bit, and to learn to let yourself go a bit, probably.

    Last piece of advice- watch videos. Watch WFP on just about anything, but particularly Tamarillo, who was a tiny ride for him. Mark Todd on Charisma. Karen on Teddy (Karen isn't huge, but Teddy was definitely NOT BIG). All of these horse/rider combos I think show great examples of how to stay centered and still so as not to unduly influence a little horse, yet help them out as best they can, as well.
    I tend to ride with a longer stirrup because my right knee hurts A LOT when I crank 'em way up. I do ride with different lengths on both horses though. I still should raise them a hole now that I think about it. Thank you for the video suggestions, I learn a lot that way. I was just going through some of my videos from a jump clinic a couple years ago, and I kept hearing from the clinician that I was doing well. My guess is, if he wasn't too concerned with my position, I shouldn't be...but I am.

    Quote Originally Posted by bornfreenowexpensive View Post
    I don't think I had the same problem when I rode my shortie but honestly....it isn't the height of your horse. It sounds like you just have a mental issue.

    Freezing is NOT uncommon....especially when we are outside our comfort zone.
    For me, it was the move up to Prelim....and what I had to do was jump more and BIGGER.
    I think you're on to something. I have an easier time with higher fences, believe it or not. I think its because I know I *have* to do things differently.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chall View Post
    Freezing is what I did to keep my body from unduly tipping my little horse when he stumbled over a jump. I wanted to keep my body stable so he could rebalance. Is that perhaps what is going through your mind when you freeze?
    Definitely a probability! Bailey is a scrappy jumper, and can take almost any distance. There are times he will squeeze in a stride/leave one out and catch me off guard, but the little bugger pulls it off, so I just try to stay out of his way, and I think my way of doing so is staying in a more upright position, if that makes sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by LHL View Post
    When I help riders with defensive positions that they developed early on, I set up a a ground rail to cross rail and have them ride it at a trot, holding the mane with their eyes closed. Since there is no anticipation about when their horse will jump, this allows their body to follow naturally. Once they are following naturally, which happens immediately as long as they hold the mane and close their eyes, I add another cross rail, etc, etc.
    I jump AMAZINGLY when I close my eyes.

    Quote Originally Posted by deltawave View Post
    I'm also 5'8" and rode a small-bodied 15.1h Appy for several years, including at Training level. I *had* to keep a bit of a defensive position or I'd wind up on top of his neck. This was fine with me--I prefer to stay a bit in the "back seat" anyway and it was much EASIER for him if I did so.

    Why do you have to "close your hip angle" over the jumps? Because it says so in an equitation book? I don't mean it's OK to ride poorly, but if you are competent, balanced, safe, staying out of his way and giving him a good ride, forget about what your equitation looks like.

    I always find it very difficult, especially this late in the game, to change my "position" by trying to do this or that differently. But sometimes a lesson from a different instructor can give me a new way of looking at things, even though my trainer is great and knows both me AND my horses well enough to spot my flaws almost before they happen.

    So lessons from clinicians or a different trainer can often help me to figure out a new way of doing things. But in the end, I don't sweat the details too much, like "am I closing my hip angle?". If I'm riding competently, the horse goes well. If that won't win me an equitation class, well, I don't care.
    Thank you DW...that helps a lot. I just feel like I'm not doing something "properly". I tend to stay in the backseat as well. I feel like I'm not giving him a good ride every time, but I'm having a hard time explaining why. I am hoping to do a clinic with someone this summer, just not sure who!

    Quote Originally Posted by RiverBendPol View Post
    I'm 5'11", all torso, stumpy legs. My best TB was 15.3 with a short neck. I had trouble with distances and recovery after jumps. I learned to sort of snap my upper body back into position before his front feet touched the ground bc otherwise it felt like we would both go face first into the dirt. I did that a few times, thankfully he let me do that part of the training alone. He and I started from scratch when he was 3, went from BN-Intermediate together. Basically we compensated for each other and got the job done. Too many details will be your demise. Ride him forward with a steady leg and a soft hand and have fun! You can always set up exercises to help yourself stay out of his way but basically, stay quiet and enjoy your time with him.
    I tend to sit too early as well, but when I do we pull rails. I am getting better about that, but I still tend to do it on XC. I agree, it feels like I'm going to end up on his neck then in the dirt.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheBrightSide06 View Post
    Same here!
    I rode hunters/EQ for about 6 years, so I overdo the 2 point sometimes...
    I am 6ft tall and Koda is 15.1hh. I have had to work super hard to be much slower with my upper body over fences and still give him a big enough release. There is hope
    And it's worth it!
    THANK YOU!


    These may or may not help or change some advice. Two clips from our latest XC schooling. You'll notice I sit in the middle of the complex...with Bailey I feel like I am able to get more from him when I sit. In SJ I am in a heavy half-seat through most of the course because I really need to drive his hind legs to get him to jump properly. On XC I don't sit all the time, only when I feel like I need the extra "oomf!" Does this make sense?

    - TL angled vertical https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGyk4tr3Fcc

    - Complex http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sz7VF...ature=youtu.be
    Last edited by runNjump86; Apr. 14, 2013 at 01:47 AM. Reason: more info



  13. #13
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    Good heavens, SHORTEN YOUR STIRRUPS! You will have so many more options of what to do with your leg and your body. Sitting on his back in a dressage seat is not the same as a defensive position, and he'll be less likely to add the stride if you are up and not struggling to stay in two-point. I'll bet you'll also find it MUCH easier to "fold" your body if you have a correct stirrup length. You're about 3 holes too long in those videos.
    Click here before you buy.



  14. #14
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    I tend to sit too early as well, but when I do we pull rails. I am getting better about that, but I still tend to do it on XC. I agree, it feels like I'm going to end up on his neck then in the dirt.
    Practice staying up in your jumping position for a stride or two. You can even set a placing rail at some distance beyond a fence and stay light until you canter over. I got in the habit of this on a teeny-tiny little mare I rode (she sticks 15.3, but 3 of that is withers and she is like riding a jet packed knife blade!). She has a HUGE jump with a lot of power, and if I sat too soon, I'd get rocketed on to her (non-existent) neck. So, I stayed light, often with a finger wrapped in her mane. I don't do it CONSISTENTLY but I think the fact that the instinct is there keeps me from sitting too soon....usually.

    Of course, there's nothing wrong with come back sooner on xc....that's called preservation.

    In your videos, you definitely need to shorten your stirrups. They are too long and causing you to feel like you need to throw yourself to keep up. Which is contributing to those awkward chip strides. Also, KEEP RIDING to your fences. You look to be lacking a little power and energy. If you're feeling the need to go to your seat, your legs aren't working well enough. You shouldn't have to drive with your seat (which I think also contributes to your position woes). You should be able to create the desired energy with your legs. There are definitely horses that go more forward with a sitting rider, but in the video he just looks like a horse who needs to be kicked! Gallop on, go forward, then take THAT and settle him into a rhythm. Don't try and create energy from slow/un-energetic. Make it with the forward a little gallop will create.



  15. #15
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    Aaak. Shorten your stirrups and get off his back. By sitting so hard you are actually stalling his hind end by driving his back down into the ground. I'd lengthen the reins, too. Keep your face behind your hands and unlock your elbows. Look at the top of the jump until it disappears between his ears THEN look ahead. Let him go a little, he looks like a good solid citizen who likes his job. He's not going to run away, let him have some fun and go forward!
    Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.



  16. #16
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    I don't have any advice for you but your guy sounds like my daughter's gelding. He's a 15H Arab/QH cross that she describes just like you...he has that spunky side that she has a love/hate relationship with....they are a blast. Anyway, she's 5'6" and they make it work. They were schooling and getting ready for Training level when a pasture injury ended that. They make it work, not sure exactly how but they do at the Novice level. You won't end up between his ears. I'd show you a picture but I don't know how to post it. Good luck and have fun!
    "If you've got a horse, you've got a problem"



  17. #17
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    I'm 5"9" with a 15.2h TB working at the same level as you.
    1. Set your stirrups so you have a 90* angle to your knee. They will feel jockey short, that's ok.
    2. Gymnastics help a TON. My website has my team's current grid posted on the home page feel free to steal the math
    3. Think of jumping HEELS first to get your base really solid
    4. When you fold, think boobs to pommel, or think touch your toes


    Just watched your first video. Shorten your stirrup AT LEAST 4 holes. This ain't the dressage phase!
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
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  18. #18
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    I know you said shorter stirrups hurt your knee, but you are way too long! Those are dressage length, and that only hinders you over even the smallest of jumps. If its that bothersome to your knee, then get flexible stirrups. They help.

    It looks like you peek at the fences, too. You don't stare them down, but it sure looked like a peek-and-freeze-and-take-leg-off type of thing.

    He looks like a solid citizen, but he needs to be a tad more forward. Relax! He's already taking great care of you! Just go have fun! Easier said than done, I know, but it can be done!
    "IT'S NOT THE MOUNTAIN WE CONQUER, BUT OURSELVES." SIR EDMUND HILLARYMember of the "Someone Special To Me Serves In The Military" Clique



  19. #19
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    Thanks all.

    If you think those are dressage length, you should see my dressage saddle. So yes, I will shorten my stirrups. No promising 4 holes, but I will do 2 and gradually go up. I have flex stirrups on both saddles.

    He is a good boy, and he LOVES XC. The issue we have with him though is when he gets more forward, he gets flat and jumps from his chest, especially when coming downhill like we were to the vertical.

    I appreciate the encouragement/advice! I'll definitely take a lot of it into our jump school this week!



  20. #20
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    The issue we have with him though is when he gets more forward, he gets flat and jumps from his chest, especially when coming downhill like we were to the vertical.
    Also something that the rider has 100% influence over. Teaching a horse how to go balanced in the canter/gallop is part of the schooling required to take a horse safely XC. If you're thinking of moving up, you will want this to be fairly well confirmed. Never mind making time--it is bloody difficult to go from a faster gallop between fences to a "safe" canter over and over and over on course and winds up being exhausting and irritating to the horse.

    Balancing half halts and establishing a correct, balanced canter up, down, along the sides of hills and on the flat are tools you need in your toolbox. Slowing down to a crawl before jumps in order for the horse to jump safely is antithetical to the premise of cross country. He must be able to jump competently and well from whatever pace you choose, and if the only way he can do so is at 300 mpm, then that is the pace you are stuck with.

    "Forward" = "flat" is not a permanent affliction. A horse can (and must) learn to be forward and balanced, especially when the jumps are bigger and wider.
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