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Leg-to-Hand Help?

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  • Leg-to-Hand Help?

    Me and my horse have been having some problems recently with either gunning or pulling to fences, resulting in stops. Now this is entirely a me problem I have come to understand, which kills me. So, I’m heading to a larger fence, and I get a bit nervous. So I choose to stay behind him and keep leg, and I either end up chasing him into the stop, or what usually happens is that he takes the giant flyer and I go flying straight off him - exactly what happened at my last show, and I can say from experience, it HURTS to hit the ground from that height in the air at that speed. So I come around again, and in an effort to not chase, I keep some hand, but end up pulling and my horse just simply stops. I’m trying to work on the whole “leg-to-hand” thing over poles and such since my coach has been away, but it still just feels like I’m just pulling, which of course means that I’m not doing it right, so could somebody maybe elaborate on that? I figured spilling my problems on here couldn’t hurt so go ahead..hit me with it!😂
    thanks!

  • #2
    It sounds to me like you need to focus on your rhythm first and foremost. From your description, you're changing your canter a lot on the approach to the jump. Establish your pace through the turn and then maintain that pace to the jump - whether you do that through talking out loud in the rhythm of the canter, finding a song with the right beats/minute and getting that in your head (this is easier to do if you have a video so you can test out different songs), having someone ELSE talk in the rhythm while you approach the jump, etc.

    Establish your pace in the turn, establish your track, and then keep your canter (and track) the same. As long as you have impulsion (so you feel like you can leave a little long or get a little deep and be okay), the jump will work itself out.
    https://www.youtube.com/user/supershorty628

    Comment


    • #3
      If you are “behind” him, you probably just can’t see the distance. It sounds like you are not knowing how to manage the canter and are micro managing. Maybe you need to be more proficient in your canter at a height of jump that doesn’t make you so nervous.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by supershorty628 View Post
        It sounds to me like you need to focus on your rhythm first and foremost. From your description, you're changing your canter a lot on the approach to the jump. Establish your pace through the turn and then maintain that pace to the jump - whether you do that through talking out loud in the rhythm of the canter, finding a song with the right beats/minute and getting that in your head (this is easier to do if you have a video so you can test out different songs), having someone ELSE talk in the rhythm while you approach the jump, etc.

        Establish your pace in the turn, establish your track, and then keep your canter (and track) the same. As long as you have impulsion (so you feel like you can leave a little long or get a little deep and be okay), the jump will work itself out.
        This was my first thought too.

        I've found it helpful to start counting as I'm straightening out of the turn, then just keep counting till I get to the jump (as opposed to counting to four over and over).
        ~ Citizens for a Kinder, Gentler COTH...our mantra: Be nice. ~

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        • #5
          Originally posted by equinekacy View Post
          Me and my horse have been having some problems recently with either gunning or pulling to fences, resulting in stops.
          Stop pulling and stop gunning. It's that simple. Not easy, but simple.

          Pulling and gunning are NEVER right. From the rest of your post it seems like you have it in your head that either there is a deep distance and you should be woahing or there is a long distance and you should be kicking. You need to get out of this mindset. Just because the jump was long last time doesn't mean the next time you need to pull out of the corner. That's just going to get you in trouble.

          Your distance is "made" so to speak, in your corner. You need a good turn (no falling in or bulging out) at a good speed and impulsion. Once you are straight out of the turn you stay the same. No pulling, no kicking, just canter on the same rhythm. If your turn was good a workable distance will present itself. Once you see the distance you can do some last minute fine tuning in the way of a little leg or a little woah. Nothing drastic. If you're four strides out and trying to do something drastic, you're riding to the wrong distance.

          As for understanding leg to hand, practice setting up a line of poles and seeing how many strides you can do between the poles. Maybe you canter through on a normal canter and get 5. Next time try to do 6 and then once that's pretty easy try for 7. You need a good amount of hand to control the canter but you need a TON of leg to support that short canter. That's a good place to start understanding what it takes to truly ride leg to hand
          Last edited by OnDeck; Nov. 8, 2019, 11:17 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Set up a course of poles and don't go any higher until you can go over them perfectly.

            At the moment you are training him to stop.

            It is harder to retrain than it is to train, so it will be harder to train him to jump over.
            It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by SuzieQNutter View Post
              Set up a course of poles and don't go any higher until you can go over them perfectly.

              At the moment you are training him to stop.

              It is harder to retrain than it is to train, so it will be harder to train him to jump over.
              This. Now is the time to break it down. Start with poles and stay with poles until you can canter a course properly at a consistent rhythm. Then crossrails. Then tiny verticals. With your current challenges, continuing to try and jump him at any larger height is only further ingraining the wrong behaviors and responses.

              Oh, and if the horse still changes his rhythm approaching a pole, that is a fine time to practice a 20 meter circle.
              Last edited by gertie06; Nov. 5, 2019, 09:43 AM.

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              • #8
                How large is a “larger” fence? An exercise that I found really helpful in the past is to set a bunch of small (like <2’) single verticals/crossrails and canter around, purposely *not* worrying about finding a distance. Your job is to work on the items others have detailed- keeping a steady canter with impulsion, and riding excellent corners, and forcing yourself not to make big changes in front of the jump. Sometimes it’s a miss, yes, but the jumps are small enough that it doesn’t matter. In fact, a relaxed miss, from a quality canter, out of a good turn, is a great thing to practice and 180 degrees from the panicked overreaction you’re both doing now! You and the horse both need to step back.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by SuzieQNutter View Post
                  Set up a course of poles and don't go any higher until you can go over them perfectly.

                  At the moment you are training him to stop.

                  It is harder to retrain than it is to train, so it will be harder to train him to jump over.
                  But first focus on your flat work, learn to do transitions within the trot and canter without going to your hand. If your instructor doesn't teach this, find an new instructor.

                  Also remember, and drill into your brain, the last three strides are the horse's. You set the pace, and even if YOU can't see the distance, hold what you have, and be ready to give, and go.
                  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


                  • #10
                    I agree with the above. Whatever height you are jumping, I think you need to go down. If you can’t find distances and it’s so bad that it’s resulting in falling off, flyers, and stopping, you aren’t doing your horse (or yourself) any favors. Those are things that need to be taken care of before you move move to a height that makes you nervous and causes your horse to be uncertain. If you continue on this path, you will risk killing your horse’s confidence in jumping.

                    Go back to poles and cross-rails until you are comfortable finding distances. And then progress up very slowly. You might consider finding a new instructor, because it seems odd that your current one would endorse you moving up if you are having these problems.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by snaffle635 View Post

                      This was my first thought too.

                      I've found it helpful to start counting as I'm straightening out of the turn, then just keep counting till I get to the jump (as opposed to counting to four over and over).
                      I know this is probably just me, but counting doesn't help me. I find I don't ride to the count, but tend to count to the ride. Meaning, I just count faster or slower depending on my canter to the jump.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I got into a nasty habit of trying to do way too much into the fence, and then really started doubting my ability to ride anything at all. A very helpful exercise for me was to set up a small fence (small enough to not be scary or difficult, but still big enough to be a jump), either an X or a vertical half way down the long side. Walk through the short end, pick up your canter once you're on the straight away, and just jump the fence from where ever you get there. Focus on a nice medium, balanced canter, and don't do anything to make the jump work. You are not allowed to kick or pull, or really do anything besides maintain your canter. If you have a good canter, then fence will happen.

                        For me, it reinforced that a good canter was all I needed, and that I could jump from a range of spots without mishap if I had that good canter.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I would agree with almost everything that's been said.

                          1) Focus less on "leg to hand" and just focus on a quality, even, slow canter. The second you start to think about his head being in a certain place or "framing" him up, you will start to pull on his mouth, which will start your cycle all over again. If you can't balance him into a good canter without hanging on his mouth, put the jumps away and go back to flatwork basics.
                          2) If you can get a quality canter without overly manufacturing it, then put the jumps down to poles and small cross rails - very simple things so you both don't entirely lose your confidence.
                          3) Focus on rhythm and track.

                          I will add that I read a great article once that said the worst distance you can get to is the 1/2 stride, and most horses are athletic enough to figure even that out if the jumps aren't too high, so don't panic about getting to the "perfect" spot. Just keep everything the same and ride what presents itself. It's really the balance and adjustability of the horse which makes it appear that some horses always get to the "perfect" spot - which all comes back to, you guessed it, flatwork.

                          Good luck!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The circle exercise is perfect for this.

                            Put two poles out on a large circle, 20+ m (the width of the short end of your arena if you can). Nice and big to allow you to develop a flowing balanced forward thinking canter. One pole at 3 o'clock, the second at 9 o'clock directly opposing. Go from middle of pole to the middle of the next pole, nice, round even half circle. How many canter strides did you get?

                            Flow to the next half, count again between the poles. How many strides did you get for this half? Was it an equal number again?

                            Play with this exercise, nice and steady, to the left and to the right, until you develop an even canter rhythm where you are not rushing and the numbers stay the same. Once you have mastered this (at least a couple of weeks as this is really hard work for the horse!), try making a bit harder. If you go outside pole to outside pole, how many strides do you then have? Did the number increase? Can you get the same increase going to the left?

                            How about if you make it harder, inside pole to inside pole? Can you keep the same canter stride but put fewer strides in?

                            This is the boring, effective, perfect for perfecting type of work we all need to do lots of. Yes, not glamorous but it should keep you focused on having a quality canter instead of nit picking in front of the fence. Good luck!

                            (sharing this article that explains it much better than I!)
                            This Olympic silver medalist shows you how to improve your track-riding skills by using broken lines.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by snaffle635 View Post

                              This was my first thought too.

                              I've found it helpful to start counting as I'm straightening out of the turn, then just keep counting till I get to the jump (as opposed to counting to four over and over).
                              I was taught to start counting before the turn and looking through it to the fence and change nothing, nada, zip all the way to that fence. For sure changing nothing the last 3 strides out, hands on the neck and leave horses face alone.Close your eyes if you have to, just leave the horse alone and let him find the jump off a good canter.
                              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I had a small, hot horse that would build up to the fence and could manage to come up with a deceptively massive stride for being 15.2 (at best). My trainer would set an exercise I liked to call "pick up sticks."

                                Basically a vertical (or crossrail) set at an easy height with a standard takeoff and landing rail, then several poles set one stride out from those for several strides before and after. (One stride rails do not need to be on a straight line, you can build them through the corners, depending on the size of your arena. It's more important that you get maybe 3-4 one-stride rails + your takeoff & landing. Just make sure you set the rails properly around the curve.)

                                Once you get a good feel for the rhythm of not rushing or pulling and just letting the poles get you to the jump and letting the horse find its way nicely, then you can raise the fence and challenge yourself to keep the same calm.
                                Just be sure you have someone roll all the rails out proportionately as your raise the fence. You don't sound like you need to school the horse to pat the ground hard and get out of trouble fast.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by wannabedvm View Post
                                  I agree with the above. Whatever height you are jumping, I think you need to go down. If you can’t find distances and it’s so bad that it’s resulting in falling off, flyers, and stopping, you aren’t doing your horse (or yourself) any favors. Those are things that need to be taken care of before you move move to a height that makes you nervous and causes your horse to be uncertain. If you continue on this path, you will risk killing your horse’s confidence in jumping.

                                  Go back to poles and cross-rails until you are comfortable finding distances. And then progress up very slowly. You might consider finding a new instructor, because it seems odd that your current one would endorse you moving up if you are having these problems.
                                  This^^^^^^^^^

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Wow- so much great advice on here!

                                    I do tons of pole work when my trainer is away. I do a grid of poles for canter (bounce, bounce, one stride, bound) to let my horse figure it out on their own. Eventually you could make the one stride into a cross-rail or something, that way you only have to focus on getting your horse into the grid over a pole.

                                    I do trot poles to prepare for that. Maybe 3 or 4 poles.

                                    Also, if you have someone to lunge you, do that. Once you are comfortable being on the lunge line, drop your reins. Then your stirrups. Promise that will help you not pull. But only once you are comfortable on the lunge- it's a weird feeling at first. You can even start at the walk without reins and bend down and touch your toe.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      You can practice leg to hand on your drive to the barn. Put your foot on the gas pedal to go, and then your other foot on the brake to bring you back to the speed you want. That is leg to hand.

                                      Alternatively you can work on your horse going when you add leg, and only using hand to steer/slow and/or change the head position (ie shorten/lengthen the overall frame). Your horse should keep the same rhythm unless you tell it otherwise.

                                      And I agree, your distance comes from the quality of canter in the corner. Your horse has eyes, and should be able find the jump out of a good approach (even pace and perpendicular approach).
                                      Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        When you use your leg, you should be getting the horse forward and up. It sounds to me like you’re getting the forward part but not the up part. When the forward energy of the horse is directed up, you will feel a nice holding hand emerge. My guess is you’re not feeling that nice holding hand because your leg is getting your horse forward only- faster, longer- but not Up.

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