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Runaway on XC

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  • Runaway on XC

    First, let me start by saying that I'm not a true eventer. I am a hunter that goes to an event 1x a year for fun. Usually school xc 1-3x a year, but never at the pace of an actual event. I've gone to Fresno the last three years. The first two years I ran Intro, this year I ran Beg. Novice. After jump 5 this year, we had to go down a huge a** hill! Towards the bottom of the hill, my horse took off. He truly felt like a runaway. I could point him to the next jump but there really wasn't any slowing him down. My trainer thought I would pull him out and not take the jump (that never crossed my mind). My friend said that I definitely looked out of control (can't wait for the video from RideOn). The water came a few strides after the jump. That got him back under control because he trotted to look at the water. Yay. The rest of the course I felt like he was in control and listening. Optimum time was 5:21 and we came in at 5:19. I rode him in a loose ring KK ultra the first two years and a dee ring KK ultra this year. A stronger bit is likely in order but I will admit that I am a little concerned that I might ride him backwards at times and a stronger bit might make things worse if I start picking? Curious as to thoughts about why he took off (based on your own experiences). Could it be a pain response? Or, maybe he was just having fun and wanted to run (and scare me). Any bit recommendations? If the bit is too strong for him, he curls and gets behind it. We are still working on him accepting contact and me following. Work in progress! Also curious if anyone uses a C4 belt as a jump strap. Think I need to try this as I kept grabbing mane with my right hand. How do you know how loose/tight to make the belt? Thanks.

  • #2
    If you were only a few seconds under Optimum time I wouldn't call that a runaway, but how much schooling outside of the ring are you doing?

    I don't think it is uncommon, especially for horses who are not used to schooling out in open spaces, for a horse to get a wild hair under his behind on XC after a fence or two. Some of them get really feisty before they settle into a rhythm, others don't "know" enough or have enough XC experience to know to settle into a rhythm. This does not necessarily require a bit upgrade, but it does require more time outside on the hills. If I were you I would try to set aside time, maybe once or twice a month, to school out in the open - you can include jumps here and there and always bring them back to a controlled gait after the fence. I would definitely try to school trotting/cantering down hills if you can.

    I would skip the C4 belt and use a retired stirrup leather. C4s are flimsy belts and they will break if you tug on them, you do not want them popping off in the moment you need them. I make it just loose enough that it settles on the "widest" part of the neck before the shoulder. You can also make a grab strap for your saddle or ride in a breastplate that has a grabstrap instead.

    I look forward to the video

    "i'm a slow learner, it's true."

    Comment


    • #3
      I have had my C4 belt pop apart while wearing it. No way would I use it as a Oh Shoot strap. I like my strap thinner than most stirrup leathers and have used the neck strap portion of an old standing martingale. You can buy nylon ones in different colors from Bit of Britain.

      I am wondering if as you came down the hill your horse really got on the forehand and your loss of control was that he wasn't really balanced and you weren't balanced and it just snowballed.

      I would bit up slightly and practice more on cross country prior to competing again. I personally use a Beval bit with the french link mouthpiece. It has some leverage but not much. Depending on where you hook the reins will depend on how much leverage. No curb chain.
      Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)

      Comment


      • #4
        I was at Fresno this past weekend too, also in the BN division (Sr. Rider) and came in at 5:18! That hill was huge! My mare is super green and I was worried about the hill as well. I REALLY had to sit her back down on her hocks and say "woah, woah, woah" the whole time. Very strong half halts were involved LOL. I did think that course rode great though, that was some of the most fun I've had out on cross country.

        It doesn't really sound like a pain issue, it seems like he probably just got some momentum and a bit carried away. If he really wanted to run away with you he could have done it during that looooong gallop stretch between 7 and 8 . Or also on the downhill on the way to the table at 17.

        I use a c4 belt as a strap. I was using an old stirrup leather, but I lost it, so I switched over to the belt. I actually liked the belt better, it's a bit thicker than the leather and is easier for me to grab onto.
        I just started a blog!
        Another Adult Amature and her OTTB: https://eventingottb.wordpress.com

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by halt View Post
          If you were only a few seconds under Optimum time I wouldn't call that a runaway, but how much schooling outside of the ring are you doing?
          I don't get out of the ring much. I went xc schooling 2x this year. Once at Eventful Acres and once at Fresno. We typically only do a couple of jumps at a time and then walk. I do go on a walking trail rides in our rice fields but I've never gone faster than a walk! So, I could see that we definitely need more galloping experience. I don't have a trailer. Makes it hard to go out and play.

          The runaway feeling only happened between the hill after jump 5 (it was a huge hill) and the next jump. Had the water not been a few strides later, I'm not sure what would have happened? I think he would have continued to blast off. But, I am a worrier, so maybe it would have been fine. The rest of the course felt pretty good considering how chicken I felt prior to running.

          I have an old stirrup leather in the garage. I'll try that this weekend. Thanks for the recommendation and instructions on how to adjust. I think a grab strap on my saddle would be too far back for me? I think someone at my barn has one, so maybe I can try both to see which I like. I didn't even know about jump straps until my first event.

          I'll be sure to post video when available. They said about 10 days. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Puzzled View Post

            I don't get out of the ring much. I went xc schooling 2x this year. Once at Eventful Acres and once at Fresno. We typically only do a couple of jumps at a time and then walk. I do go on a walking trail rides in our rice fields but I've never gone faster than a walk! So, I could see that we definitely need more galloping experience. I don't have a trailer. Makes it hard to go out and play.

            The runaway feeling only happened between the hill after jump 5 (it was a huge hill) and the next jump. Had the water not been a few strides later, I'm not sure what would have happened? I think he would have continued to blast off. But, I am a worrier, so maybe it would have been fine. The rest of the course felt pretty good considering how chicken I felt prior to running.

            I have an old stirrup leather in the garage. I'll try that this weekend. Thanks for the recommendation and instructions on how to adjust. I think a grab strap on my saddle would be too far back for me? I think someone at my barn has one, so maybe I can try both to see which I like. I didn't even know about jump straps until my first event.

            I'll be sure to post video when available. They said about 10 days. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
            Maybe it was related to the hill and getting out of balance. Another poster chimed in saying it was a big hill.. I've had some fresh TBs get a little carried away after big hill efforts, so it may just be he was out of balance coming down the hill and got a little carried away..

            I like your approach of schooling XC a few fences at a time and then walking. IME I find this practice very valuable for the OTTBs I've retrained. Teaches them that they are not just galloping around for long periods of time and IMHO relaxes and helps settles their brains a little.

            I would see if you can get some outside ring experience. You don't have to jump. Doing canter sets on hills is enough, I think - the big thing is getting your horse used to handling terrain.
            "i'm a slow learner, it's true."

            Comment


            • #7
              I use a C4 belt with no issue.

              Do you know how to use a pully rein to stop a runaway horse? That is my first piece of advice.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by Rnichols View Post
                I was at Fresno this past weekend too, also in the BN division (Sr. Rider) and came in at 5:18! That hill was huge! My mare is super green and I was worried about the hill as well. I REALLY had to sit her back down on her hocks and say "woah, woah, woah" the whole time. Very strong half halts were involved LOL. I did think that course rode great though, that was some of the most fun I've had out on cross country.
                Well, I'm glad one of us had fun! I'm still debating whether I had fun or not! I was in the Sr. beg novice too! I was the one in warm-up talking to my horse about our partnership (really I was trying not to cry so was talking to him and anyone that looked our way). I felt like I was saying whoa the whole course! But, he really only felt out of control by the bottom of the hill to jump 6. I very likely could have had him on his front end and then didn't get my position back enough to help him. I remember telling him easy and whoa. We managed to make jump 6 in stride so it all worked out, but was super scary. I'm hoping he just got carried away and maybe with practicing galloping more, this won't be a common theme with him. I'm hoping to go to a few more events next year instead of just my annual trip to Fresno. You guys are all my heroes and so very brave!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Puzzled View Post

                  Well, I'm glad one of us had fun! I'm still debating whether I had fun or not! I was in the Sr. beg novice too! I was the one in warm-up talking to my horse about our partnership (really I was trying not to cry so was talking to him and anyone that looked our way). I felt like I was saying whoa the whole course! But, he really only felt out of control by the bottom of the hill to jump 6. I very likely could have had him on his front end and then didn't get my position back enough to help him. I remember telling him easy and whoa. We managed to make jump 6 in stride so it all worked out, but was super scary. I'm hoping he just got carried away and maybe with practicing galloping more, this won't be a common theme with him. I'm hoping to go to a few more events next year instead of just my annual trip to Fresno. You guys are all my heroes and so very brave!
                  Haha small world! I'm always a chatterbox on my horse, so whenever I hear someone else having a conversation with their horse it seems normal .

                  I was the one on the chestnut mare with a wine glass clipped on one side and a bottle on the other . I think the more events you do the funner it will be! I hope you get to make it out to more next year - if you are in Sacramento, there's that Woodland event there. It's not my favorite, but it's close to you and it's all done in one day.....and everyone there was super friendly and welcoming. I'm hoping to get down to Twin next year, I've never been but I've heard its so pretty and fun!
                  I just started a blog!
                  Another Adult Amature and her OTTB: https://eventingottb.wordpress.com

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Jealoushe View Post
                    I use a C4 belt with no issue.

                    Do you know how to use a pully rein to stop a runaway horse? That is my first piece of advice.
                    I know how to do a one rein stop which I don't think would work on xc, so I will definitely google a pully rein stop! Thanks. I did forget about something my trainer just taught me. She called it skiing to the jump. Like when you water ski behind a boat. We only practiced this once, so wasn't in my toolbox on Sunday. Might have come in handy on a few jumps and down that scary hill!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Glad it worked out ok in the end! Work with your trainer on "what to do if ... " to be sure you recognize truly dangerous situations, and have the tool kit you need. Any time safety is an issue approaching a jump, circle and take your 20. That is eventing.

                      There is a difference between "runaway" and "fresh", and it sounds like may you had more fresh than runaway? If you got to and over the jump then likely your horse wasn't completely gone. True off-the-rails runaway is flat-out all-speed, nose and neck long and flat, no brakes, no steering, and possibly no jump. Those can be very very dangerous to the jump, because the horse may not lift off, but either slam into the jump or jump into the top of it. So do talk with your trainer about how to know when to do what in terms of self-preservation.

                      Interestingly in all the eventing and schooling I've seen, I can think of only one time when there was a real true totally out-of-control runaway with the rider still on the horse. Before I was into it I thought there must runaways everywhere, with all those big hot horses in the open country. And certainly there are times when a rider is carrying more speed than they would wish. But all that open space seems to give riders the time and space to get some marginal situations under control before things go completely to pieces. The real mind-blown runaways seem to mostly happen after the rider has been discarded on the ground - or anyway, of what I've seen.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by OverandOnward View Post
                        Glad it worked out ok in the end!

                        There is a difference between "runaway" and "fresh", and it sounds like may you had more fresh than runaway? If you got to and over the jump then likely your horse wasn't completely gone. True off-the-rails runaway is flat-out all-speed, nose and neck long and flat, no brakes, no steering, and possibly no jump.
                        Ok. So it sounds like he wasn't a runaway because I did feel like I had steering, just no real brakes. It wasn't a fun feeling for sure. I definitely need more galloping experience and will talk with my trainer about doing just that. I did watch a YouTube video of a pulley stop. I watched my video from INTRO last year and he did get quick with coming down hills (much smaller than the one on sun). So hill work would be good. I really hate cantering down hills. Thanks for the tips. I appreciate it.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          If your horse is out of control (or feels out of control) please regain control first and then jump the next jump. Don’t jump xc fences out of control. It sounds like your horse probably wasn’t horribly out of control but it is a bad policy to continue on when you aren’t in control, especially after a downhill when your horse is already on the forehand.

                          Circle, regain a feeling of control, and then present to the fence.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I agree with the posters who said he got on his forehand coming down the hill. VERY hard to half halt that! A couple of suggestions from someone who once had a horse with a much bigger engine than brakes follow:

                            1. Consider a stronger bit until you know your horse can be balanced cantering terrain. Terrain is what really distinguishes eventing from every other jumping discipline (except fox hunting). If you can handle two reins, use a three ring bit (also sometimes called a bubble bit) with one rein on the top bubble (plain snaffle) and one on the bottom (emergency brakes). Even with one rein you and your trainer can decide which ring the rein needs to be on given the terrain of the day. Once your horse learns to balance better, you can go back to the KK. I used to start every season with the 3 ring and transition to the KK after one or two outings and my horse and I had reached an understanding.

                            2. School terrain somewhere. Extend trot uphill, collect trot downhill. Extend canter uphill, collect canter downhill. Try it a few times with no jumps involved and you'll get it.

                            3. In a competition situation, when there's a hill you are worried about, trot down. At the level you're going and at several levels up, there isn't any jump on course that can't be trotted safely. So go and have fun!
                            They don't call me frugal for nothing.
                            Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Even if the horse isn't running completely amok, the feeling of no control over the speed is one of the most frightening experiences in life. I've felt that way, and several riders who are much better than I am have said the same thing. Definitely we all want to be fully prepared in the 'what to do' department.

                              I'm frankly a bit surprised, OP, that your trainer has not already been over this thoroughly with you. Maintaining control when horses are trying to carry and even increase too much speed is one of the first cross-country lessons to learn, from outing #1. Even if hopefully that isn't needed right away, because it's always possible to happen unexpectedly with any horse.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                So, picking up speed and ending up a bit on his head going down a hill is Entirely Normal. I ride with a very good clinician who routinely makes us jump a fence at the top of a hill specifically so we can get the feeling of tumbling down the hill a bit out of control. As he says, they don’t fall down running down hills on their own. As you get more experienced xc you will learn where you really need to make an effort to whoa or rebalance and where you can just let them roll along and sort it out later. It is exhausting and pointless to try and half half your way down a hill like that.
                                I’d mainly look at how he jumped the fence after - did he rebalance and jump it in a reasonable way? If so, I don’t think you have a problem. You just need more practice on terrain - I think this is one of the most overlooked and important skills for new eventers.
                                The big man -- my lost prince

                                The little brother, now my main man

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Time to find a really big field, mark off some distances, bring a friend with a stop watch, and go gallop. Get a feel for m/m, and a horse galloping on rougher ground.

                                  This is not just for your occasional forays into combined training, but for your education as a rider.

                                  It takes doing to learn to balance not only you but also your horse on those down hill runs. So many of the what is now considered "old guard", such as Bruce and Ralph spent their spare time fox hunting.
                                  Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                                  Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I think you need to practice riding down hills, using downward transitions to teach him to keep his balance. I suspect he simply lost his balance gallioping down.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      First...you CAN circle on xc and not get a jump penalty as long as you have not presented to the fence. So if you ever feel like he is not listening...circle. Get your canter the way you want and then continue on.

                                      But also based on what you have described...he really doesn’t sound out of control and probably really was not going very fast. Just faster than you are accustomed. Sounds like it would help you to do some cantering out of the ring more. I bet if you add a few more tools to your tool box....you would have more fun.
                                      ** 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


                                      • #20
                                        From a training perspective, practicing cantering downhill without getting on the forehand or picking up speed, is something that both horse and rider need to do.

                                        In the heat of competition, there is no shame in pulling up, or circling, between fences to reestablish balance and control.
                                        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).

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