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Some insight, and opinions.

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  • Some insight, and opinions.

    Okay, so, I would like some insight and opinions on a couple things. First opinions would be nice on the link at the bottom of the post.

    So, I am wondering about some stuff and wanted to see what COTH'ers had to say.

    1. Recently we had the thrill of going to Longwood and being part of the clinic with Capt. Phillips. The first thing he changed on my daughter was her position at gallop. He had her put her hands down in front of the saddle, to better be able to balance the horse if he should get strong. This per the ICP stuff. Capt. Phillips was wonderful, we totally emjoyed the day, and my daughter and he had a couple good laughs. However, It was very awkward for my daughter to ride like that. She has incredibly long arms, and she felt very "unbalanced". She looked it as well.

    We went home, and she tried practicing it some, and I did the research. I watched video after video after video of riders at Preliiminary and above, and guess what, most of the BNR/T's, do not ride with thier hands down there. MOST of them ride where she USUALLY rides. So i got to wondering, why are we teaching one thing, but doing another? I personally like, much better, having your hands about a third up the neck, you still can use the neck if you need to, but you aren't leaning over arms that at some points seem very straight....

    Is this just a safety thing for lower level riders, or is it something cookie cutter like? What...prior to that she had gotten many compliments on her galloping position...so we were confused.

    2. How many of you can get your horse to shorten his stride by just sitting up and lifting your hands....and not holding? She took a lesson with someone who really got after her about holding too much going into a jump and that her horse ought to be able to respond by just a shift of her weight...Duh, yes, I know, but if we could all train our horses to do that in a week, what glorious riders we could all be.....I again, went back to videos and again, saw many UL riders holding, and some yanking...

    3. How does everyone feel about the elevator type bit. The one with 2 rings under basically an "o"? Someone told us that you can't get out of thier mouth with that bit....The horse in the video loves that bit, he is pretty responsive to it.

    Now about the video. She crashed the day before doing some schooling and woke up the next morning thinking she knew nothing, the horse was horrible, she was horrible, and very very confused. So I suprised her with a ride with Bruce SR. I knew he would be honest with her, and if you watch a different one, it will tell you what he said....and she came away feeling much more competent in her own decisiion making. I just worry that we need our horses to think for themselves, as he will say too, but if we take away a person's confidence while they are taking lessons, and thier ability to reason for themselves, we might not be doing them favors.....so opinions, nicely please, would be aswesome. THANKS EVERYONE.

    May the sun shine on you daily, and your worries be gone with the wind.

  • #2
    Just wanted to say that I hope your daughter appreciates her wonderful mother. She looks like a great rider. I believe there was a very long contentious thread about how confusing it can be when you use more than one instructor and they have different "systems". It is a frustrating part of riding.


    • #3
      My trainer went to those sessions and got the exact same advice, the way it sounds. It was awkward and unnatural for her, as well. I do think it's somewhat "cookie cutter" advice. She is going to consider it another tool in the toolbox, but I really doubt she can or should change her whole style at this point--she's ridden successfully at the *** level for a long time.

      Can't open the video here and am not in the habit of critiquing riders that are worlds ahead of me anyhow.

      My opinion on bits is that it's the hands on the reins that are the most important. I have been somewhat of a "snaffle nazi" my whole life, but recently have humbled my viewpoint on that.
      Click here before you buy.


      • #4
        it was fun meeting you guys in florida!

        does her horse have rails in showjumping? first thing my coach did was take away all the gadget bits, plain snaffles only, and my horses are now going better than ever. Took a couple punched out rails and near misses to get there though.

        hopefully I'll see you guys soon - welcome to the bdj/bdsr contingent!


        • Original Poster

          Gry, sometimes I do believe she knows how neat a mom she has, and then....there are these.....other times....grin. Yes, we have decided on a local who lives here in Florida year round, and the amazing Buck when he is in town. I think we over did the trying people. Like a candy store with a small kid. There are way too many choices, so try them all. NOT such a good idea. And between Buck and Jon, I think we got it covered.

          Yellowrose, it was awesome meeting you too....we love BDJ, he is so totally cool. BDS is much tougher....grin. But when he comes back next year, probably have to do a few more lessons with him....so she can show him some improvement!!
          May the sun shine on you daily, and your worries be gone with the wind.


          • #6
            I'm going to take a stab at explaining something of question #2.

            You do see a lot of riders x-c take big pulls but what they are doing is taking a big pull, and then releasing and the horse stays back and balanced. What the instructor MIGHT have been saying is that instead of your daughter putting her leg on, balancing and half-halting, she is just holding and pulling down to the fence. But I have only seen that brief video so I can't say exactly what she is doing but food for thought.

            Also what I don't think a lot of people realize is that a lot of people ride their horses differently in schooling and in shows. For example, in the show ring you are going to do everything you can to help your horse jump clean. Sometimes that means pulling and holding. In schooling, when you are not worried about getting rails, you get your horse into a good balance and canter and let them make mistakes and learn how to jump better.

            I hope this helps make more sense of this to you.
            Hanlon's Razor

            Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.


            • Original Poster

              Hi Tootsie, it's not clearly visible in that video...I really need to learn to do that better, but she is indeed giving and taking. She doesn't release pressure to the point of a loose rein, which is what they wanted her to do. He isn't that trained yet. We qare working on the self-carriage and stuff, but he loves x/c, and can definetly get a bit strong and forward.....Bruce said he was brave, and could verge on being too brave, stupid brave I believe is how he said it....so she is a bit apprehensive giving him his head, plus he can have a GINORMOUS stride...so we have to be careful with that as well. Thanks for your input...!
              May the sun shine on you daily, and your worries be gone with the wind.


              • #8
                I do feel that with many horses with good mouths (i.e. my current gelding) the three ring is too much bit unless you are using two reins on it, which is really a lot to manage on xc with a running martingale and having to constantly adjust the horse.

                I know that for my horse, 90% of the time on xc, I need a snaffle. 10% of the time I need either the third ring of the 3 ring, or curb rein on a pelham, or something similar. When I need more bit, I REALLY need more bit. Problem is, the rest of the time, having that much bit backs him off too much and he worries and doesn't come confidently up into my hand like he does in the snaffle.

                For this horse we've compromised with a slow twist, which I would say is the right bit 98% of the time-- the other 2% we're screwed. For my old mare, it was a Dr. Bristol, and I had one that just loved an ancient mullenmouth Tom Thumb pelham of my mom's.

                I don't think every horse has to go in a snaffle (or even can) but I do think that many horses are overbitted, and honestly I'm not a huge fan of leverage bits with only one rein--don't get me started on kimberwicks!


                • #9
                  I ride both of my horses with a three ring bit; one has a Happy Mouth mullen mouth and the other a french link. I put the rein on the top ring (snaffle ring) for stadium and I move it down to the second ring for XC to give me a little extra lift. I have ridden both of them XC in various snaffles and found I spent way too much time yanking and pulling because both of them love XC and want to GO. With the three fing, I can half halt, release and have them stay balanced. I really don't feel it is a harsh bit.


                  • #10
                    I think the CMP galloping position is silly.

                    The first time it was explained to me, circa 1995 or so, I thought it was a joke. Why would you put yourself in that position on a horse? I'd learned to gallop in balance and as I hunted regularly, I could gallop all day like that. If you need to 'rest' during your 6 min XC round, you should think about your own fitness rather than solve the problem by leaning down on your hands. For a strong horse, use a bridge.

                    The 3-ring elevator bit is fine if the horse goes well in it. I'd rather be able to ride more forward with a stronger bit than tentatively with a plain snaffle. My mare(who is ridden by a terrific rider) goes in one now, although the rein is on the 2nd ring. I've used these bits myself on XC and out hunting, usually with horses who are very forward but still quite sensitive in the mouth.


                    • #11
                      I feel a little unqualified to critique the video, but on a couple of your points:

                      I have received the same gallop feedback from other trainers, and it probably is to some degree cookie cutter advice (or, different trainers having different approaches), though in many cases helpful--I think your idea of having that in your toolbox is a reasonable one.

                      If you have a bridge down on the neck when you're galloping, as opposed to up in the air, it is easier to slow your horse and stay balanced when he gets strong, and it also gets rid of the tendency to get too much in their face, raising your hands/inverting them in your approach (a bad habit of mine, anyway--the backwards steady as opposed to the forward steady).

                      It puts you in good position for the "steeplechase squeeze."

                      As for elevators/gags, probably what the person meant is that used with 1 rein you can't get rid of their leverage (even if your horse isn't pulling, your steering is done with the leverage bit). With 2, you can ride them as a snaffle and add the leverage as needed.

                      Your daughter and her horse are a lovely pair!


                      • #12
                        Haven't watched the video. But I regularly use lifting my hands/shoulder as a way to change the balance before a jump and/or compact the horse rather than tugging - I have a horse who can be a bit hot/bold/hard in the mouth, and I find it a much more effective tool than trying to have a discussion with his face (also helps me remember to go to the leg first, rather than start with my hands). Similarly, I do like a slightly bigger bit for a horse who needs it, because, like JER said, it means I can be softer with my hands and get a reaction and then release. Lots of horses can go in a snaffle; some go better with a little more bridle because you get a quick response and can let go. Some of the worst rides I've seen are ones where a horse has very little response to a snaffle and the rider is battling it - everyone gets tired and nothing really gets accomplished.

                        Coaching is adding tools to the toolbox. Not all tools are going to be helpful in all situations, but it gives you other options of things to try that may/may not work.


                        • #13
                          You're a great mom. Clearly your daughter is a good enough rider that she can disseminate everything that was said to her, given time, and can keep what works and put the rest on the back burner for future reflection (or just throw it away!). It is always difficult to try something new and have it fail miserably with first use, especially if the person telling you to do it is someone you respect and feel should know the right thing.

                          The only person I can think offhand who rides regularly with their hands down like that is Phillip Dutton, and he rides very upright and looks unlike most other riders going xc. It does work for him, because there is little or no pulling or fussing with the mouth and the balance stays the same, no matter what. But he is a man, and he rides a lot of horses, so he is very strong. Maybe that arm position works best for a man? Who knows, I don't think it would be comfortable for me and I probably would have come off fairly regularly had I adopted it!

                          Also, it's a lot easier not to pull on a horse when they get to a level that the fences are actually holding them, but when they are crazy brave there may be no such fence! So kudos to your girl.
                          Last edited by 3dazey; Mar. 11, 2010, 01:03 PM.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by gold2012 View Post
                            We qare working on the self-carriage and stuff, but he loves x/c, and can definetly get a bit strong and forward.....Bruce said he was brave, and could verge on being too brave, stupid brave I believe is how he said it....so she is a bit apprehensive giving him his head, plus he can have a GINORMOUS stride...so we have to be careful with that as well. Thanks for your input...!

                            Problem is...if she holds him with the bit..that usually lets them take off long and get longer. It is a catch 22.

                            I also agree with Tootsie. What you do at home TRAINING your horse is often different than what you do in a show context.

                            Does every trainer I work with work VERY hard to train their horses to come back without using your hand. Absolutely...and they expect me to be the same way. If I was giving half halts using my reins all the time....I'd get ripped...and maybe my reins taken away by one of my trainers. Do you sometimes have to go to your hand in competition...yes. Doesn't mean you don't strive to teach the horse to come back just from a shift of your weight...and to be able to balance them and get them to wait at a fence just using your body (not the bit). And most of mine do (most of the time).

                            Lastly the bit. The problem with the bit you described is it is not very good from a training perspective...if the goal is to train a horse to go with most minimal bit. You are always getting a gag action with it. Does it work...absolutely...but it isn't useful in progressing your horse from a training perspective. It might be what you need in show context at first...but ideally not used all the time. And if you are going to use it....use two reins. But you do have to use enough bit to survive

                            On the galloping position....no real comment from me. I was always taught to put a bridge in my reins and then set the bridge down into their neck. I can't remember much focus being on setting my hands back near the saddle.
                            ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


                            • #15
                              re: bitting

                              If I need to ride with a 3 ring or gag, I also use 2 reins.

                              Sometimes we go the whole time with the bottom rein (with a knot by the buckle) on the neck, tucked under the breastplate.

                              And sometimes, especially schooling, I ride with both reins the entire time, as my horse loves to put her head down and muscle through 1/2 halts.

                              For the last 2 years I haven't needed either - a fat twist has been fine. But the gag with 2 reins attached remains in the tack trunk, ready to use if necessary.


                              • Original Poster

                                Just so everyone knows.....the three ring is a mullen happy mouth, and she has it set on the ring right below the main ring. So in the middle I suppose. In dressage he goes with a mullen full cheek happy mouth.

                                She's not heavy with her hands, and he is quite responsive to it, and her balance, but when asked to drop all contact at approach to a jump, it is a bit scary. We have a different horse that she drops all contact, and he self-carries to the jump...but it took him a bit of time to get there...

                                Flight Check, what a good idea....Also, someone said something about which bit to use in training....when training him in dressage, and flat work we use his dressqe bit. Doing stadium, at home, we train in his dressage bit. X/C whether it be training or competing, we use the same bit. Unfortunately, even training a horse, accidents occur, so I am leary of doing anything less than what I know works on this horse...so suggestions on what to do for training are welcome.....

                                Thaks for the advice thus far...and the compliments....about my being a mom and all...grin.
                                May the sun shine on you daily, and your worries be gone with the wind.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by gold2012 View Post
                                  2. How many of you can get your horse to shorten his stride by just sitting up and lifting your hands....and not holding? She took a lesson with someone who really got after her about holding too much going into a jump and that her horse ought to be able to respond by just a shift of her weight...Duh, yes, I know, but if we could all train our horses to do that in a week, what glorious riders we could all be.....I again, went back to videos and again, saw many UL riders holding, and some yanking...
                                  Phillip Dutton talks all the time about "let the fence be the bit." Similarly, I once walked an XC course w/Sharon White (a Bruce student, BTW, so maybe she gets her style from him?) and she said over and over as we approached big, gallop fences, "Just sit up and take a deep breath."
                                  I think it's all part of the same idea of NOT getting in your horse's face when you don't need to, understanding that sometimes your efforts to balance by pulling them back onto their hindquarters have the opposite effect of making them push against you.
                                  Can you do it at every fence or in every situation? No. But I do think that idea - of the horse balancing itself off the site of the fence, with your body position encouraging it - is the right kind of feel/mental image to be striving for.
                                  All that said, I very rarely do it, have a not-so-proud history of going waaaay too slow XC because I won't get out of my horse's face, yadda yadda.
                                  But you know what? The XC round I rode after that course walk with Sharon goes down in my mind as one of the very best rounds I've ever had, as a rider. And we had a fast, flowing round to underscore it.

                                  ETA: Just because you see a lot of ULRs holding and yanking doesn't mean it's right; it might be bad riding or it might have been necessary in that situation. What you see in videos would mean more if you were magically able to visit with each of those riders right after that round and ask, "How did it feel to you? Was that the ride you wanted?" That commentary would be more enlightening.
                                  I evented just for the Halibut.


                                  • #18
                                    Re the bit. I am not against using the bit that you need, but feel that if you are using a 3 ring, you should be using 2 reins. This allows you to give your horse a more sophisticated ride and is how the bit is designed to be used.

                                    Re your daughter's galloping position and the position of her hands. Was she asked to ride with a bridge? It seems from your description that she was either asked to use a bridge, or to put her hands down as though she was using one, in either case to prevent her from balancing herself and her horse on her hands and/or to make her more aware of when it is that she is inclined to pull and hold. This is a typical CMP thing, but if you go to Karen or David (among many others), they will tell you to do the same thing. If your daughter hasn't used a bridge before, though, or is in the habit of holding/pulling, she would feel unbalanced. If she plays with it while out hacking, she'll eventually learn to be more comfortable with it, and probably see how it can be a useful tool. It isn't the kind of thing that most people feel great about right away.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by gold2012 View Post

                                      We have a different horse that she drops all contact, and he self-carries to the jump...but it took him a bit of time to get there...

                                      So is this what she is trying to get this second horse to do - Yes? It DOES take time.

                                      I'm not sure dropping ALL contact is always the goal, but sitting up/back, and having the horse respond to your body and the fence without a fight with his head is a good thing.

                                      As for position, if you tend (like me) to climbing up the neck, keeping your hands down and towards the saddle can be helpful because it's really hard to get too ahead when your hands are in that position (well, if you do, you fall off..) . It sort of forces you to keep your upper body back/ over your feet. And then your bridge is right there if you need it.

                                      Do my horses respond to my body position? Absolutely, for the good and the bad!

                                      The video shows a really lovely rider with a very nice horse. Sometimes, I think, the fine tuning from "pretty good" to "REALLY REALLY good" is harder than anything else.


                                      • #20
                                        Here is a link to the thread where this rediculous galloping position that CMP and the O' Connors teach was recently discussed:


                                        ETA: Just watched the video. Great horse/rider combination. And Bruce gave her some great advice.
                                        Last edited by lstevenson; Mar. 11, 2010, 02:56 PM.