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Exercises for improving bank form?

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  • Exercises for improving bank form?

    Hi all. I have a question about helping horses learn to jump banks. I have a mare that I am transitioning from jumpers to eventing because I think it is a more suitable discipline for her and she will be more marketable there. Last fall was our first HT and she was great. Our first schooling this year was last Sunday and we played over novice and training levels and she is really getting into it, I was so proud of her!

    My main question is whether or not there are exercises I can do to help her jump banks better, other than just doing several smaller banks. Unfortunately while my barn does have several XC fences to practice over, we don't have any banks (fingers crossed for summer construction!). When jumping down she tends to launch out rather than just dropping, and when going up I just feel generally less organized and I can't help my fear that she's just going to land on her knees! Any advice? Is it just going to take time for both of us to gain confidence by repetition?

  • #2
    Just time and practice. A lot of green but bold horses will launch off (and not so green. My former horse Supermanned off of banks well into his prelim career! Made tight combinations interesting).

    I do, however, like to walk up and down banks, which I think helps teach them that they don't NEED speed to answer the question and can help calm them down a bit. This might be a good place to start.

    After that, try to go with her a bit off the banks (don't lean way, way back. Just stay centered) and see if that helps encourage her to just drop. And up the banks, I've always been taught that they are the one place you can get a little ahead of the motion for a few strides out. Make sure you have a nice, powerful, uphill canter. Don't let her be too fast and long in her frame, then just ride to it like you would something you would jump OVER. It should ride just fine.

    There's nothing really you can do at home in the ring to help. This is one of the few xc questions that you do just have to get better at!
    Amanda

    Comment


    • #3
      I agree with yellowbritches.

      When you do get a chance to school banks, walking off of them is a great way to teach your horse to step off and not launch. Make certain that you are looking ahead and not down. Stay in your half seat position throughout the jump. A neck strap works great for making certain that you stay with your horses motion. Also, make certain that your feet are a bit more forward, with your heels down. If you need to scooch your seat a bit back toward the cantle, then do so, just do not lean back.

      Most banks for Novice/Training level do not require you to lean back. I used to do this, because I saw upper level riders doing it (my mare used to launch, too). They are jumping down much bigger banks than we do.

      When going up the bank make certain that your eyes are focused on the top of the bank on the approach. For some reason, it works better, than if you are looking ahead. I am certain that someone on here knows the reason why it works?
      When in Doubt, let your horse do the Thinking!

      Comment


      • #4
        Same reason to look at the top of any jump....helps you see what distance you're getting to!
        Amanda

        Comment


        • #5
          Walking banks is awesome. If you have any steep little hills around you can walk up and down them too. Whenever I go cross country schooling, I always spend a while walking down banks, even with my season guy who is awesome at banks. It just really makes them relaxed and then they are no big deal.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Thank you! I didn't think of walking down after the first few teeny ones we did because she was not hesitant about going off, but I can see how that definitely might help. As for up, not sure I'll ever be super comfortable with the idea, but having a better idea of how to ride to them will be helpful! This horse is just so enthusiastic and catching on so well I don't want to be getting in her way! Thanks again!

            Comment


            • #7
              Mind you, I've only ridden BN so am about the farthest from an expert you can get but I've always been told to make sure your contact is loose. Horses tend to jump into pressure so if you have a firm contact, it could encourage them launch. Of course, it's awfully hard to not have contact on an enthusiastic horse...
              You can't fix stupid.

              Comment


              • #8
                try adding a low cavaletti ; later a cross rail before and after the bank
                breeder of Mercury!

                remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans

                Comment


                • #9
                  I agree with everything the others have said except for one thing- DON'T push your seat back.

                  DO push your hips FORWARD slightly over the drop, while keeping your shoulders above, or slightly in front of your hips.

                  DON'T lean back.

                  I agree with both a lot of walking banks, and the loose rein on the last couple of strides, to minimize the launch.

                  B Street Tango and I have seen the effect of loose rein vs contact, with the same horse and rider.(BTW, Sport is now going BN with a Jr!!!)
                  Janet

                  chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Jumping UP a bank, just remember that the horse has to jump HIGHER than a regular jump of the same height.

                    On a regular 2' jump, the horse doesn't have to raise his body in the air that much, it is mostly a question of folding his knees over the jump.

                    But with a 2 foot up bank, the horse has to raise his body a full 2' in the air, so he can land on the top with his legs down. So the actual jumping effort is more like a 3' or 3'6" "regular" jump.

                    You don't need speed, but you do need power, so ride the up bank with a lot more compressed energy than you would for a regular jump of the same height.
                    Janet

                    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      You do both just have to practice. Walking or trotting up helps. You don't want them to leave long and you don't want to jump ahead so taking the speed out of the questions helps. ETA: but I agree with Janet, you do need power. When cantering, you want a bouncy power canter for going up.

                      For jumping down, most of the time make sure you are NOT holding them. That tends to get a launching reaction. So for most horses, loose loose loose reins and walk until they just step down. I said MOST horses...because for some this doesn't work. The mare pictured below LIKEs to launch....the picture was from walking. For her, I eventually got her to more consistently step down by keeping a soft SOFT connection with the reins. That is harder to do because you absolutely can not hold them to get them to step down...but for her, she did better when she felt me 'there' but not restricting.

                      Have fun!
                      Attached Files
                      ** 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

                        #12
                        Thanks again everyone! Having a light feel to the drop is definitely one I need to work on, so that will be easier at lower speeds too. I think coming from hunter land I'm just too much of a control freak! I guess I'll be working hard to push for a little bank complex to be built My goal this year is to qualify for AECs in BN and get one or two N runs under my belt before then, so in a barn where weekends are shared between horse shows and events, I'll have my work cut out for me!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Eilsel View Post
                          Thanks again everyone! Having a light feel to the drop is definitely one I need to work on, so that will be easier at lower speeds too. I think coming from hunter land I'm just too much of a control freak! !

                          If that is your tendancy....drop the reins to the buckle. I'm not kidding...let totally go until you get more comfortable. Just sit with a light seat and look where you want to go and let the horse jump out from you. At this stage...you will have time to get your reins back before the next fence...and honestly, you likely will not need them even if there is a fence a few strides away if your eye is on that fence. It is very likely that even your "light" feel is too much and you are causing the "launch". Me...I'm perfectly happy dropping my reins to the buckle (even cantering to a down back into water!) so it wasn't as hard to take a light feel for the down bank (with this specific horse who is a bit different!) because I personally was much happier with a loose rein.

                          ETA: And don't lean back or forward, just stay centered and let them drop out and let their motion open your hips. I DO think of pushing my foot a bit forward...and found that for my friends from the H/J world, they had to really think about putting their foot in front of them for the down banks. The sensation is simillar to what you do on landing of a really large fence. You want to land in your leg (top of your thigh) like you do landing off a larger fence. Bigger the drop, the more you may need to push your foot in front of you. At least that is what worked for me.
                          Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Apr. 9, 2013, 02:34 PM.
                          ** 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


                          • #14
                            In competition, even at Training level, I will often come back to a "trot on a loose rein" for a down bank, and make up time somewhere else.
                            Janet

                            chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Janet View Post
                              Jumping UP a bank, just remember that the horse has to jump HIGHER than a regular jump of the same height.

                              On a regular 2' jump, the horse doesn't have to raise his body in the air that much, it is mostly a question of folding his knees over the jump.

                              But with a 2 foot up bank, the horse has to raise his body a full 2' in the air, so he can land on the top with his legs down. So the actual jumping effort is more like a 3' or 3'6" "regular" jump.

                              You don't need speed, but you do need power, so ride the up bank with a lot more compressed energy than you would for a regular jump of the same height.
                              This is excellent advice! I'm new to up and down banks. I don't have a problem with going down, but the up is not a pretty sight to behold...

                              I never thought of thinking of the actual mechanics of the jump itself. Thanks Janet!!
                              All that is gold does not glitter;
                              Not all those who wander are lost.
                              ~J.R.R. Tolkien
                              http://theimperfectperfecthorse.blogspot.com/

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Another vote for letting GO off a down bank. My horses used to launch, and my coach kept telling me to let go - I thought I was, but with a big horse it's easy for them to hit the end of the rein off a drop. Finally I was running Training and we had a max drop to a log. I was pretty anxious about launching and totally messing up the distance... Somehow coming in to the drop I got disorganized and ended up literally dropping the reins entirely ... Drop rode like it was 6 inches tall and the log came up perfectly 2 strides later.
                                Lesson learned!
                                The big man -- my lost prince

                                The little brother, now my main man

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  try adding a low cavaletti ; later a cross rail before and after the bank
                                  This^^
                                  I had a mare that would launch, and my instructor added a ground pole and it really made her think about it. She would have to land before the pole to make it would which got her to stop launching.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    How are you at slipping the reins and taking them back up?
                                    breeder of Mercury!

                                    remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      from the cobwebs of my mind

                                      at Morven Park, back in the day, we practiced slipping the reins and taking then back over two smaller cavaletti, then after getting them back continuing on over another cavaletti in fact, they went so far as to have us touch our heads to the horses' rump over the first cavaletti, landing in our heels after the 2nd; a very helpful exercise; just be certain you knot your reins first!
                                      Last edited by Carol Ames; Apr. 13, 2013, 09:48 PM. Reason: typo
                                      breeder of Mercury!

                                      remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        I can definitely see that our down-bank issues stem from me not letting go enough, so I can say with confidence that I am not particularly good at that. So, my plan for now will be to come back to a trot before the bank, then make sure I'm on the buckle a few steps before we actually get there. It makes sense, usually when a horse is not doing something correctly it's because the rider is getting in their way!

                                        Comment

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