I have noticed in looking at a lot of pictures of people eventing, that the horse's form over fences is different from what I have come to consider ideal. Yes, I am basically a H/J person but I would like to understand why so many of the horses in eventing use different form. I would think that it would be desirable to have a horse that jerks his knees up level or higher than his chest. That way, if they hit something, they can just tuck up tighter and regain their balance. If the knees are lower and underneath the horse and they hit something, the knees are pushed back and they are more apt to fall. Why do so many event horses jump this way? Isn't it dangerous? I would think using the knees well would be a prime requirement for a horse that has to jump solid obstacles! Please enlighten me!
PS I will try to find some pictures to illustrate what I am talking about.
I think if the knees are below the horizontal, it is dangerous. But usually if a horse hits something badly, its because he hangs a leg, not because his knees arent up to his eyeballs. The real danger is if the horse hits a fence on its forearm, then he's likely to stumble over the fence or flip. I've also seen quite a few jumpers that dont have "ideal" form, but still manage to leave the rails up.
Also, those pictures, I wonder what level the riders are competing. You usually find better form as you move up the levels. But not everyone can afford a lovely jumper. And its hard to judge all eventers by two pictures. I bet I can find some jumpers and even hunters with a bad fence.
Most event horses Ive seen have had good form: safe, even if not "ideal" by the hunter standard.
Eventer13 - I agree hanging a leg is the most dangerous of forms, but it seems that a lot of event horses use the form I have posted 3 pictures of. I just wondered if there was a reason for this.
I too know of several jumpers who are amazing and don't have proper form all the time. Authentic is one of those and he is a superstar! But he is an exception, not the rule. It seems that a lot of event horses jump over themselves, not just the few exceptions. I just wondered why.
Leesonlady I agree that those pictures are less than desirable for any jumping discipline. Where I don't agree with you is that this is in any way "typical" of eventing. Quite frankly looking at some of the details in those photos none of them look like particularly accomplished riders or horses. Should I run out to my neighbor's who rides in a couple schooling hunter shows a year and snap some pictures and suggest they represent the "hunter world?" Because that's what the photos you have chosen look like to me.
Sure we have much fewer horses that jerk their knees up to their ears than hunters. We even have upper level horses you would consider hangers, but we are more interested in an athletic jump than a stylist jump. Knees up with level or higher forearms isn't the only determination of a quality jump or athleticism. Although in the years I worked on the HJ circuit you would have thought that how the horse used his knees was the ONLY indicator of form that mattered. It's not. You will see all kinds of jumping form in eventers.
I don't event but my trainer does. I have seen horses at the barn with a less than "stylistic" form over fences. I think, and this is just my limited opinion from what I have seen, the emphasis is more on the riders ability/position. I have seen no stoppers at the barn. Sure, if the rider screws up badly enough a horse may stop, but it is a very rare occurrance. I also don't see the "perching" or riding way ahead of the motion that I have encountered at various hunter barns. I have drawn the conclusion that the better, more educated a rider is, the safer jump you will get. Not saying every horse in the world can jump because of a great rider. All horses have the ability to jump, some much better than others, but a correct rider seems to make the jumping come naturally. Just my two cents LOL!
The Knotted Pony
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Quite frankly looking at some of the details in those photos none of them look like particularly accomplished riders or horses. Should I run out to my neighbor's who rides in a couple schooling hunter shows a year and snap some pictures and suggest they represent the "hunter world?" Because that's what the photos you have chosen look like to me.
What subk said. All of these photos are of poor jumping efforts, whatever the discipline. The horses are on their forehands i.e. they are not making balanced jumping efforts. The turnout makes it appear that this is a low-level competition.
Fritt Skitt's trainer's horse is an exception if he jumps like that consistently. If you look at some of the other photos on that photographer's site, you will see some awkward jumps (it is a water complex after a downhill and a big jumping effort) but the horses are balanced and using themselves.
For some pictures of a far less advanced rider/horse combo, you can look at my greenie's pictures in my sig line (one or two of which subk took at a local competition!). Sometimes we get an awkward or hangy jump because he's green, as you can see in one of our early xc pictures, but he does it right more of the time as he learns.
(Now, if I can just get MY lower leg back where it belongs! )
The guy I leased last year, and am taking lessons on, doesn't have great form, especially over the smaller fences. For example, in this picture, he's basically cantering over it. In others, like this one, he's doing a lot better. In a little over a year of riding him, he's had a total of 3 rails, all of which were my fault (I got nervous in the competition and jumped ahead). He's never had a rail in any of our lessons. It doesn't always look pretty, but he gets the job done, and he usually takes good care of both of us. I feel really lucky that he's given me such a great introduction to eventing. He's actually done Jumpers and Hunters at a few A shows successfully (with other riders) - when the fences get bigger, he puts more effort into it.
I don't think anyone *wants* bad form, but a lot of eventers, especially at low levels, can succeed in spite of it.
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How do you even know those are eventers? It isn't a competition and anyone can go out and just cross country jumps that size, they look to be about beginner novice height. I really find it offensive to assume those are eventers and that is how eventers want to jump.
I do think that at beginner novice you will get horses that are jumping over their knees more often b/c of the rider and/or horse being green. A horse not set up correct can do that. Shoot I will show you pictures of my guy, before he started getting bodywork down where he was jumping over his knees b/c he didn't want to use his back. But he was at beginner novice and hardly a dargerous height to do it. As he has progressed and has he has had acc/chiro/massage he has stopped jumping that way.
I would think you would be much harder pressed to find poor jumping styles at Prelim and above.
Shoot I could have quite a few "interesting" observation of hunters by some of the local show and even A shows I have seen. Honestly jumping up your horse's neck is as dangerous as hanging of the knees, both can definitely end in rider falls.
Go to some rec events and see if what you think are some of the faults of eventing are actually there and make sure it isn't just some yokels in your area who say they are eventers.
Also, the back cracking jump preferred in hunters is not something I would want to ride xc. I must say that terrible form in eventers is a exception not the rule, as you seem to think. If you look through a recognized event show's photos you will see a lot better form compared the picture you chose which seems to be a schooling event. Also, in xc a closer distance is often preferred over a long one, so when a horse gets to the base of a fence it ften results in a less than perfect jump.
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Well - I'll have to agree with what a few other posters are saying. The example photos that you posted are clearly lower level horses and seemingly novice or amateur riders.
I'm sure the examples you posted are representative of your average local unrecognized eventers. Nothing wrong with that - but please don't mistake these photos of what the 'ideal' would be.
Additionally - to attempt to answer your question:
Yes - it's true - eventers certainly do strive for a different style of jumping on the xc phase than do hunters or jumpers. We are looking for a more efficient type of jumping style on the xc phase due the nature of that phase. We would ideally like to see a horse jump a bit flat with safe form. In hunters the rider gets out of the saddle a bit more and feeds the hands up the neck which encourages the horse to round and snap the front legs. This is not a good or safe style of jumping for xc phase. When riding xc the rider needs to stay more balanced to the center of the horse and remain in a low defensive position. This position usually asks the horse to take a flatter position in the air. The flatter jumping style helps the horse land in a way that is best for continuing on at the gallop with little loss in momentum or rhythm.
In the jumping phase (more similar to your jumpers) it's OK to ask for a bit more scope and tighter (tidier) front end. The course is shorter with tighter turns - totally different type of balance required.
I think we can all agree that hanging a leg - (no matter what phase or jumping discipline) - is not ideal. Less than perfect form is totally acceptable so long as the horse is reliable and safe in his style.
Does this help??
I think it's really hard to be black and white about a topic like this. You certainly shouldn't look at a few random photos and decide that all event horses are crappy jumpers. Even a good jumper has an occasional awkward jump, especially those at the lower levels who are just learning. Let's also not underestimate a couple of key things that are factors in eventing that H/J riders don't have to deal with.
1) Terrain. Hunters get to jump in a ring that is manicured and level. With eventing, we have to jump heading down a hill, or jump in places where our horses cannot really see the landing behind the jump, etc. Either way--it can affect the quality of the jump because it is hard to have your horse perfectly balanced the entire round, when the terrain changes throughout the course.
2) no schooling the fences/course ahead of time. At the lower levels, horses that are still green have to jump things that may be new and surprising to them. Many times, horses will have poor jumping form when they are unsure of the obstacle they are jumping. Usually the form gets better when they have more mileage under their "girth". And *neither* the rider or the horse have ridden the course before--that means you have a few jumps that do not ride like you planned. I think David O'Connor said once that on x-c, you're lucky if you get the ideal take-off spot to about 1/3 of the jumps, the other 2/3 are either too close, or too far--you just have to deal with it because that's part of the challenge of eventing.
3) Time: even at lower levels, stadium and x-c, are timed and you get penalty points for going too slow. We can't take the longest path around the course just to get the perfect approach to our fence. Many times, we have to cut inside of turns, take a fence at an angle, and push to make the time--and yes, sometimes we have an awkward jump or 2 because of that. Hunters don't have to worry about making time--they just make sure they get a nice spot to take off from so the jump looks pretty.