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Exercises to help a long horse shorten?

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  • Exercises to help a long horse shorten?

    Hi guys,
    I finally jumped one of my horses today after taking a year off to have a baby etc. and...well...it was not pretty. He's bold and honest, but his natural canter stride is HUGE and he finds it really difficult to collect. Even on the flat. We were doing a long one to a two stride and the poor guy nearly fell getting super deep to the last element! I"m sure our deep, loose footing is not helping, and he may need his hocks injected, but c'mon...these jumps were tiny!
    So...what are your favourite exercises to help make these long striding horses adjustable? We've got some homework to do, and I need a little inspiration!
    Thanks heaps
    Gabby

  • #2
    on the flat:
    walk/canter canter/walk transitions
    counter canter

    over fences:

    Jumps with placing poles on the way in and out (trotting set at 9'--roll out a bit for canter)

    bounces, bounces and more bounces

    trotting fences


    And lastly...make sure it isn't you that likes to leave long
    ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Thanks Bornfree,
      Guess it's no cooincidence that bounces feel awful on this horse?!
      IYO should I set a 12' bounce for an approach from trot...or make it harder at 10'?
      thanks!

      Comment


      • #4
        for trotting I usually set them at 10'. Also, as is pounded into me by my trainer, really make sure you do not get ahead on them...it just makes it that much harder to jump up and around the fence when we jump up their neck!

        Good luck! As he gets stronger it will get easier!
        ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

        Comment


        • #5
          Serpentine in the canter, with a canter/walk/canter transition every time you cross center line. Progress to canter/halt/canter. Yes, they DO learn to anticipate, and this is a very simple way to teach them what a half halt feels like!

          Also, when jumping teach them to HALT 4-5 strides after the fence, not in a harsh or punitive way but as part of an exercise like a gymnastic or a single vertical. Again the half-halt . . . once they learn to expect that a little bit, you can translate that into a "packaging" aid anywhere.

          Bounces, bounces, bounces. Oops, someone already said that!

          You can't go wrong with cavalletti, either--not just ground poles, but elevated ones. Builds that hind end and back like nothing else!
          Click here before you buy.

          Comment


          • #6
            I like setting poles or caveletti at short bounce distance and cantering through. We've been doing turn on the haunches, canter, walk a few steps turn on the haunches and that seems to get them used to the idea of shortening/adusting/sitting back at the canter (and this horse is pretty green, has a long stride and would love to run through the aids)
            OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!

            Comment


            • #7
              my horse can compress til the cows come home but likes to rush, i ride w/ a friend on a horse that prefers to go long and get strung out but doesn't rush. We ride in either a 20x60m ring or a 35x60m ring. Which really backs the horses off. But obviously adjust the distances I mention to work for your horse.

              I do what DW suggested. For the first 3 -5 efforts I very quietly pull my horse up to a halt after the fence.

              I also do lots of canter walk canter transitions, and just down trans in a variety of places to establish the half halt.

              Use trot poles on the ground in front of trot grids, canter poles for canter grids.

              Ground poles 9 feet out from the front and back of single fences. Fences set low, at 2'3 to 2'6". That really works, makes them take off and land so softly.

              canter poles on the ground that compress in. So (I think) first pole 11 feet, then 10 feet, then 9 feet, to 10 feet to 11.

              We'll also put a bounce at the end of a grid line if he's really running off. I set a pole 10' from the last jump on top of bloks, so only 2' high.

              My jump inst will casually and quite slowly walk in front of the fence as we approach it. As in walk from the rt side to the left as we come through the ground poles to the first fence in a grid. She's literally using her body to back the horse off.

              DW's wheel of death w/ just poles on the ground is a nice way to just get into a rhythm in a circle. Obviously bail out of your horse just gets ramped up and rushes and go back to down transitions. Set poles at 4 points on the compass on a 20 meter circle. Set them to the outside of the circle. Make the circle bigger than 20 me (like 25m) if you need to. I raise the outside edge of the 12' pole in the lowest setting of a plactic blok. So the poles will nto roll away if hit. trot and canter each direction in the wheel. Getting cocky? raise each pole in sucession to a 2' fence. Still feeling cocky? set all at 3'.

              The Neverending Line of Bounces. Grab every pair of standards that you own and set them up in a line. The first jump is 9' apart, the rest are 10' apart. Set a pole on the grounds at each standard. Raise the first pole, jump the single and canter through the line. Raise the second jump so now you have a bounce and go through, and so on and so on. I've only done this up to 9 bounces in a row. All fenecs are set same height, was something really low, like maybe 2'3???
              Last edited by NRB; Feb. 13, 2008, 11:27 AM.

              Comment


              • #8
                100,000 transitions between and within the gaits. Simple, yet complicated at the same time, but it works. Working gait, collect, 10m circle, back to working. Spiral in/out from 20-30m down to 8m.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Did your horse have a year off too or just you? Has he always had trouble collecting? If your horse had a year off also, then I think DW's ideas of serpentines and transitions are a really good way to start and I would stay away from short distances over fences at first.
                  There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.(Churchill)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by bambam View Post
                    Did your horse have a year off too or just you? Has he always had trouble collecting? If your horse had a year off also, then I think DW's ideas of serpentines and transitions are a really good way to start and I would stay away from short distances over fences at first.
                    Oooooo good point, maybe he/she just needs time to get back into shape.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by bambam View Post
                      Did your horse have a year off too or just you? Has he always had trouble collecting? If your horse had a year off also, then I think DW's ideas of serpentines and transitions are a really good way to start and I would stay away from short distances over fences at first.

                      Thanks for the suggestions guys!

                      Bambam: He had time off, but not as much as me! He did some dressage and jumping until last July - then was off until NOvember (hacking only) and has been doing flat work since November. He's always been a lover of the long spot long stride over fences, but hasn't ever been this unadjustable (is that even a word?!).

                      The canter has been somewhat better than years past recently (on the flat) and his counter canter and walk-canter are good. Canter-walk not so much. Canter-halt...worse. We're working on turn on the haunches.

                      NRB - I think we would both DIE if we tried a bounce at the end of a gymnastic right now! We can't even do a two stride set at 36'!!! Something to shoot for, tho.

                      Thanks again - I really appreciate all of your suggestions and pls keep them coming!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by clivers View Post
                        NRB - I think we would both DIE if we tried a bounce at the end of a gymnastic right now! We can't even do a two stride set at 36'!!! Something to shoot for, tho.
                        hehehe, don't let me kill you off now. To be clear I keep the fences LOW. I had a grid with a vertical to an oxer that he just got too long and fwd to, so I DROPPED the oxer wayyy down and put that 10' bounce in behind it. I had to lower the oxer so that he could see the bounce behind it. I was scared that if I left the oxer up he'd go blasting through and not see the bounce until it was too late and we'd trip on our face.

                        Another thing, are you trotting in? And then pull up to a trot a soon asap after the fences? My evil instructor was upset that we were blowing through a 2 stride combo of verticals that she had set at 3'3 to a 3'6" high. So she made me TROT into the damn thing to get the distance right.

                        Same lesson she made me halt in the middle of a 3 stride. ugh. but again my guy can whoa and compress really well (did a nice 2 stride in a one stride easy as cake one day)
                        Last edited by NRB; Feb. 13, 2008, 02:16 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Transitions

                          Circles

                          Spirals

                          Serpentines

                          Figure 8s

                          Counter canter

                          Transitions within the gait

                          Pole work

                          Bounces

                          Placing poles with intentionally short distances

                          Grids with intentionally short distances

                          Walk to canter

                          Halt to canter

                          Canter to walk

                          Canter to halt
                          http://community.webshots.com/user/CloverExpress08/

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I'm riding a youngster exactly like this. The problem lies in a mental anticipation and a physical objection to compressing his hind end and using himself--it is far easier to leave long, take flat strides, and leave out strides in a line because they can be straight with the hind end and pop the croup up instead of compressing the joints. Basically, they're weak! And self motivated.

                            TROT fences until the cows come home. Make him trot the very last step--no leaving out a trot step or two. Use groundpole cavaletti on the way into gymnastics so that he's trotting all the way there and using himself. This causes them to wait and also builds strength and makes them compress the hindquarters.

                            Approach all fences off a circle in shoulder fore position. If they are laterally stiff they can push against you longitudenally. Loosen them laterally and they will have a much harder time stiffening that hind end. Make the approaching circle as small as you need to for him to soften, then gradually make the circle bigger. Don't approach off the straightaway as long as he rushes or takes over.

                            Bounces can work, but both lines of bounces and lines of cavaletti have the potential of making them too keen or rushing in anticipation. It also builds power, which may not be the thing you want right now until he's working properly from behind. Stick to one bounce at a time, or a few cavaletti. Build up from there slowly. It is a strength issue--you don't want to exhuast their muscles with too much at one time--this will only make them more insistent in flattening out.

                            I ended up making a bit change. Yes, we all love to use snaffles all the time, but I was fighting with him more in the snaffle. In the 2 ring happy mouth snaffle elevator, I barely have to use the rein. He respects the bit and punishes himself when he tries to run through it. In a few weeks I estimate we'll be back in the snaffle, but for a temporary assistance this bit keeps him from dumping on his forehand and straightening his hind end.

                            I discovered that his inconsistency in take off spots as well as his anticipation was causing ME to anticipate. I know you just started back, but if you can, drop your stirrups and approach in a sitting trot. Relax into him and do NOT make a move before he does. If he launches himself, you'll get let behind, but this is okay--it's punishing him with an uncomfortable jump for making the wrong decision.

                            I've also been jumping every single day. Small amounts over small fences (crossrails and small oxers). It's not overfacing him but it is helping him not get excited and helping build strength. So many forget that jumping is gymnastic work for the horse--use it to your advantage and don't just stick to designated "jumping days."

                            In one week he has improved about 50%.

                            My other jumper jumps "through" small fences because they are so small. He only starts truly wrapping around the fences when they get "big" at 3'6 or so. Jumping small is pointless for him (unless it is complicated gymnastics or waiting exercises) so when jumping courses I stick with the bigger jumps to keep him thinking about his shape. We still work all the time on not flattening and staying round, but he just doesn't care about small jumps and makes no effort.

                            Hope some of that helped!
                            Mac
                            It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I have been told that ugly downward transitions usually means they are weak somewhere. Ugly upward transitions usually means stiffness/ soreness.

                              Anyway, I have a similar horse, and when she is out of shape, it can be like riding a freight train...downhill. Let's just say we don't need to work on leaving out strides!

                              In addition to stuff others have mentioned, if he's fairly honest, I would suggest doing lots of low fences on an angle. These are great for checking your straightness and making both rider and horse WAIT for the fence. Gina Miles combined angled fences and halting in the middle of a 4-5 stride line in a clinic some years ago that really helped the 'light bulb' go on for my mare and me.

                              Finally, although this won't necessarily help your immediate problem, check your release over fences. Wofford outlines in his Training the 3-Day Event Horse & Rider book how different releases change the horse's jumping form and where they land in relation to the fence. I've experimented with my mare and it really does work like he says. Giving more release over the fence will encourage them to round more, soften, and land closer to the fence, giving you more room before the next one. Holding more gives you a flatter arc and they tend to land further from the fence. (He's not talking about dropping the horse before the fence, but giving as they takeoff, I think.) Back when the mare and I were in shape (ahem, in another era), we could fit 5 strides in a 3 stride distance this way, quite easily. Nice trick to have in the old hat.
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                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                                Serpentine in the canter, with a canter/walk/canter transition every time you cross center line. Progress to canter/halt/canter. Yes, they DO learn to anticipate, and this is a very simple way to teach them what a half halt feels like!

                                Also, when jumping teach them to HALT 4-5 strides after the fence, not in a harsh or punitive way but as part of an exercise like a gymnastic or a single vertical. Again the half-halt . . . once they learn to expect that a little bit, you can translate that into a "packaging" aid anywhere.

                                Bounces, bounces, bounces. Oops, someone already said that!

                                You can't go wrong with cavalletti, either--not just ground poles, but elevated ones. Builds that hind end and back like nothing else!
                                I agree with all of this- I work all of mine over raised poles. Really teaches them where those feet are.
                                Horse Show Names Free name website with over 6200 names. Want to add? PM me!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  All good advice so far.

                                  One more exercise that I use:

                                  - set out two ground poles along the long side of the ring. The actual distance doesn't matter, but they should be reasonably far apart for trotting and further apart for canter strides because you want enough room to be able to adjust.

                                  - Trot or canter through them at a "normal" pace and count the number of strides you get. Then do it again but add a stride. Do it again and add another stride. Then try asking your horse to lengthen his stride without becoming quick. As you vary the number of strides, you effectively lengthen and shorten his stride.

                                  The important thing is to keep your rhythm consistent, just lengthen and shorten the stride.
                                  Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
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                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    thank you!

                                    Thanks guys,
                                    We played at canter poles set at bounce distances today (four in a row), as well as tons of transitions within and between the paces and spiral in/out and serpentines. Felt a bit better at the end. Tomorrow we're hacking in deep DEEP snow and building some cavaletties this weekend. I'm going to print out this thread and keep adding/switching up the exercises.
                                    You guys are THE BEST!!!!
                                    PS. Mac - what a long, thoughtful post - thank you! and Grasshopper - I never noticed that section on releases in JW's book - I'm going to look for it and try switching up the releases a bit. Very interesting. Thanks everyone!

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