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improving front end over fences: reaching for the ground too soon?

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  • improving front end over fences: reaching for the ground too soon?

    Hi all,

    My 4yo horse and I have just started on a more regular jumping training program. We've been doing mostly gymnastics.

    Last night we were doing a grid of bounces to a one stride to an oxer. My trainer was telling me my horse tends to jump flat (although he is bold! ) We raised the oxer to just over 3' and he used his body better, but I didn't get the feeling we were wowing the crowd with his bascule. (BTW, my horse is tall at over 17h).

    My trainer said that it seems like he is, "looking for the ground" too soon. Like he is reaching for the ground early.

    Physically he is on the lean side. He has a very nice high set neck and beautiful shoulders. He is pretty well muscled in front, but he needs more muscle behind and on top.

    Do you think this is just a big, young horse in need of muscle to help his form? Has anyone heard of "reaching for the ground too soon"? Any thoughts on exercises for that?

    Thank you!

  • #2
    He's 4. He's big. The jumps are comparatively small. I wouldn't worry about it. I certainly wouldn't drill on it.

    Honestly, most horses don't show much of a great bascule over a 3' fence - the ones that do are worth big money in the hunter ranks. Plus, if they unfold a little early, it's not the worst thing in the world - I'll take that as a "fault" over one who doesn't ever want to pick up his front end in a heartbeat.

    Comment


    • #3
      My horse unfolds immediately after he rounds over the fence. It has never been an issue although it takes a bit to get used to. He tends to jump a bit flat as well, but it doesn't hinder him in stadium. We rarely (if ever) have rails. We are showing training level and school Prelim and Intermediate. Eventing isn't a style competition-- as long as the horse jumps safe, you shouldn't worry. He's just a baby too! It takes them a while to figure out what directions their legs should be going in!

      Comment


      • #4
        my 17hh tb has yet to really show me a bascule. at 3', he doesn't have to work that hard, even with gymnastics. I did a clinic last year where where we were put way out of my comfort zone as was doing 3'3 plus jumps, some were 3'6. He finally started doing more then, mostly at the triple combination. the clinician said that due to his my horse's size, my horse can jump alittle flat and still get over it without a problem.

        I've actually seen my horse get a basculd on xc with a novice fence..only when taking a jump going up a hill.

        my 16hh mare bascules over everything (aka, over jumps everything).

        the gymnastics are great, and your big guy just doesn't have to work that hard to get over a 3' fence, don't worry about it.
        I love my OTTB! I get my dressage test done faster!

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        • #5
          You could put a ground pole nine feet on the landing side of the jump. Sometimes doing that will help a greenie.
          When in Doubt, let your horse do the Thinking!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by GotSpots View Post
            He's 4. He's big. The jumps are comparatively small. I wouldn't worry about it. I certainly wouldn't drill on it.

            Honestly, most horses don't show much of a great bascule over a 3' fence - the ones that do are worth big money in the hunter ranks. Plus, if they unfold a little early, it's not the worst thing in the world - I'll take that as a "fault" over one who doesn't ever want to pick up his front end in a heartbeat.
            Ditto to everything.

            We have a nice, big, green guy (he's 8, but mentally is more like a 4 or 5 year old) that sounds similar to your guy. Really, he just isn't that impressed with small fences and just kinda lopes over them. He jumps flat and unimpressive. The few times he's been impressed by a fence (3'3" at least, and even that only inspired a bit more out of him) he's picked his little legs up and used a bit more of his body. It is very apparent that this guy is athletic and scopey, but it is also apparent that he's pretty relaxed about it all (and he's far from dangerous). Honestly, I rather have a conservative jumper as a xc horse, then one that jumps out of his skin at everything.
            Amanda

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thanks guys! This is great--all these words of encouragement, so no big deal I guess!

              I will try the pole on the landing side too. I imagine that also might work to help keep him straight at the end. He likes to cut the corner after the last fence. So we need to work on that too.

              Thanks again!

              Comment


              • #8
                First, I agree with GotSpots - I wouldn't worry yet.

                I disagree with the pole on the ground. I think that would encourage him to unfold early (anticipate landing). That is an exercise I use for over-exuberant jumpers who tend to jump too far out.

                Rather, I would tend to use a hog's back configuration to encourage a rounder bascule. Also x-rail oxers would help keep the landing gear up.
                Blugal

                You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng

                Comment


                • #9
                  I will chime in, only because I think you owe a horse every aspect of training AND management to keep them happy and working for you.

                  In my experience, horses that reach for the ground too soon are experiencing heel pain - they are trying to either land flatfooted to prevent flexion, or decreasing the moment before the hind feet land and take some pressure off the front - cutting down over a fence, or reaching for the ground - not using the back and decreasing the bascule, "jumping flat" CAN BE symptoms of this. Primarily in my experience it's related to heel pain, but I have seen a horse with a sesamoid crack who was being jumped and did all those evasions, too.

                  When you move the jumps up and down and add poles or questions and the form really doesn't change, I'd look for a physical reason. It's just what my 40 years experience says to me when I see a horse doing this. And this isn't something you or your trainer can eyeball - takes a little modern scientific methodology (ultrasound or exray) unfortunately to get a diagnosis.
                  Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                  Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by retreadeventer View Post
                    I will chime in, only because I think you owe a horse every aspect of training AND management to keep them happy and working for you.

                    In my experience, horses that reach for the ground too soon are experiencing heel pain - they are trying to either land flatfooted to prevent flexion, or decreasing the moment before the hind feet land and take some pressure off the front - cutting down over a fence, or reaching for the ground - not using the back and decreasing the bascule, "jumping flat" CAN BE symptoms of this. Primarily in my experience it's related to heel pain, but I have seen a horse with a sesamoid crack who was being jumped and did all those evasions, too.

                    When you move the jumps up and down and add poles or questions and the form really doesn't change, I'd look for a physical reason. It's just what my 40 years experience says to me when I see a horse doing this. And this isn't something you or your trainer can eyeball - takes a little modern scientific methodology (ultrasound or exray) unfortunately to get a diagnosis.

                    This was my first thought as well when I saw "reaching for the ground too early".

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by LAZ View Post
                      This was my first thought as well when I saw "reaching for the ground too early".
                      Me too. My old guy had navicular, and when he started looking for the ground early, it was my signal that his feet were bothering him and he needed his coffin joints injected again. It was often weeks before he began to be NQR in any other way. So check his feet. If they are fine, then I wouldn't worry about it and would chalk it up to young, big, and unimpressed at 3'.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        If it was heal pain...

                        What other signs might I see? I have a hard time digesting x-rays and ultrasounds if in every other way he is sound and full of energy. We ride regularly with a grand prix dressage trainer and he has nothing but great things to say about how he moves.

                        When you move the jumps up and down and add poles or questions and the form really doesn't change, I'd look for a physical reason.
                        I will pay attention to that.

                        I would tend to use a hog's back configuration to encourage a rounder bascule. Also x-rail oxers would help keep the landing gear up.
                        And will give this a try too.

                        Thank you all. Let's hope there's no heal thing going on and he is just, "unimpressed with 3'". That sounds much better doesn't it?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Blugal View Post
                          First, I agree with GotSpots - I wouldn't worry yet.

                          I disagree with the pole on the ground. I think that would encourage him to unfold early (anticipate landing). That is an exercise I use for over-exuberant jumpers who tend to jump too far out.

                          Rather, I would tend to use a hog's back configuration to encourage a rounder bascule. Also x-rail oxers would help keep the landing gear up.
                          Ditto!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Martina View Post
                            He is pretty well muscled in front, but he needs more muscle behind and on top.

                            Do you think this is just a big, young horse in need of muscle to help his form?
                            Yes

                            I'd keep him confident and happy and add long slow hills to his schedule to help his topline develop.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              If no problems other than unfolding early, I second the cross rail oxers. They don't have to be high, but I've found they really make the horse round.

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