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Simulating a "Ditch before jump" jump: Preparation?

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  • Simulating a "Ditch before jump" jump: Preparation?

    I'm doing a practice XC in a while, and we have to jump a fence that has a ditch in front of it. I'm a little worried, because although my pony has jumped ditches and been around this XC course before (he's currently doing the hunters, and jumps up to 3'3 with ease schooling, the XC jumps we will be jumping will only be up to around 2'7, so it's not the height I'm worried about) but missed out the jump I'm worried about. It's like a wall, with a small ditch in front of it attached to the jump. He jumps ditches on their own fine, but I am having visions of him getting in deep and falling/tripping into the ditch! Is there anything I can do at home to prepare him for it? I have access to showjump poles & stands but no ditches.

  • #2
    Lay a ground pole at the base of your practice fence, and lay another pole in front of it, starting with a 12 to 18" distance from the base ground pole.
    Get a sheet of black plastic, or if you don't like the thought of the plastic rustling if the wind catches it, buy a black flat bed sheet at WalMart ($4 to $6 last time I looked for a black one) Anchor the sheet under the poles, and you can gradually roll the front pole out to simulate the ditch the width you need it. There is also a black sheeting material from home improvement and garden supplies, used for making a base for a garden, or stonework, and a sheet of that will be more durable over time than a cotton sheet.
    When you school it, just ride the fence, not the ditch, and keep your eye on a spot on the top of the fence.

    Your horse will easily make the distance work. After all, when he jumps a 3 foot fence, he does not take off at the base, but rather at least 3 or more like 4 feet out from it. Maintain an uphill "frame" going to the fence, so the focus is UP. You'll do great.
    What would you try if you knew you would not fail?

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    • #3
      Agree with Mach2

      Used my horse's black stable sheet as back then our options were very limited. You will be surprised by your horse's initial reaction to the 'dark' thing on the ground. They will react to it as if it is a ditch.
      Using sheets on the ground or over fence rails is a great way to de-sensitize your horse.
      "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
      Courtesy my cousin Tim

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      • #4
        We used dark mulch once and it was so interesting to see all the horses back off it. If you use mulch you also do not have to use a ground line which could be helpful as you will not have one for the ditch. Good luck

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        • #5
          Originally posted by _downpour_ View Post
          It's like a wall, with a small ditch in front of it attached to the jump. He jumps ditches on their own fine, but I am having visions of him getting in deep and falling/tripping into the ditch! Is there anything I can do at home to prepare him for it? I have access to showjump poles & stands but no ditches.
          This is a rider fence and it's all in your head. This question actually mirrors one that you regularly face in hunters and jumpers - this question is a vertical with a ground line - the vertical being the wall, the front edge of the ditch being the ground line. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. So, as you approach, forget about the ditch, and think about how easy it is for you to jump such a small vertical with a generous ground line in the hunter ring.

          I would forget about the tarp, etc. A lot of people on the board advocate that stuff, but it can actually make what should be an easy, straightforward question into a much bigger deal than it needs to be - it can become, for a spooky horse, more about the tarp than the actual question being asked. You are adding complexity (and, if it doesn't go well, fear or anticipation) that you wouldn't otherwise experience on the XC.
          Treat Jockey for Spellbound and Smidgeon

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          • #6
            Agree with Speedy...this is a rider fence. If your horse jumps ditches on their own just fine....he will not care one little bit about this fence unless you do.

            Put your eye on the top of the wall, and kick....do NOT look in the ditch. Let the ditch just be a nice ground line for you. That small of a wall for a horse that has experience jumping bigger fences shouldn't be any issue whatsoever.
            ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Speedy View Post
              This is a rider fence and it's all in your head. This question actually mirrors one that you regularly face in hunters and jumpers - this question is a vertical with a ground line - the vertical being the wall, the front edge of the ditch being the ground line. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. So, as you approach, forget about the ditch, and think about how easy it is for you to jump such a small vertical with a generous ground line in the hunter ring.

              I would forget about the tarp, etc. A lot of people on the board advocate that stuff, but it can actually make what should be an easy, straightforward question into a much bigger deal than it needs to be - it can become, for a spooky horse, more about the tarp than the actual question being asked. You are adding complexity (and, if it doesn't go well, fear or anticipation) that you wouldn't otherwise experience on the XC.
              Agreed. Don't make this more complicated than it actually is. This is actually a pretty straightforward jump -- it's a small vertical with a clean ground line. At this fence height, the ditch should be pretty small, and he should be able to take off from the same distance he'd take off if the ditch were not there.

              If you want to practice a bit, build a small vertical with a clean ground line placed 12" or so in front of the jump. I don't think you need to bother with the tarp, etc., as it could just wind up making for a more stressful schooling session than necessary.

              When you school the cross-country fence, ride it for what it is -- a small vertical with a clean ground line. And have FUN!


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              • #8
                Originally posted by paintedponiesrule View Post
                If you use mulch you also do not have to use a ground line which could be helpful as you will not have one for the ditch. Good luck
                Not true. In every well built one of these (usually called a Weldon's Wall), you will have a groundline in front of the ditch, to discourage horses from trying to jump into it.

                Agree that you'll likely do more harm than good trying to "prepare" for this - that's the whole point of XC schooling or practice, to learn how to ride this kind of question using a properly built fence, and in a setting designed to help you have a positive experience. Mucking around with tarps et all can set you for failure if you don't have a good coach or groundsperson to help you create a fair question and to make sure you have the right tools to cope with any issue that might come up.

                You're going to do great. Have fun and kick on.

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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Thanks for all the advice everyone, I put out the black tarp yesterday & he jumped it without an issue, so I feel more confident about it already!
                  thanks again

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