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Help w/student over fences

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  • Help w/student over fences

    I have a student who is a pretty good rider for her level and WANTS to learn and improve. The problem is that she consistently gets left behind/sits down too soon after the fence so she pops the horse in the mouth (horse is already sensitive). I have exhausted all my ideas in trying to fix this problem....what ideas do you guys have?

    I'm not sure if I'm just not explaining this properly or what. She's trying so hard and I just feel like I'm saying the same thing over & over.


  • #2
    I'm sure there will be all kinds of ideas and exercises offered, but here's my two cents: She needs to improve her seat and legs so she doesn't get left behind, and until she does that, she needs to grab mane so she quits popping him in the mouth. Have her hold that mane until a stride or two after the fence to ensure there is no mouth popping

    And, obviously, no stirrups, no stirrups, no stirrups. There are all kinds of fancy exercises, but no stirrups gave me and countless others a nice strong foundation, and the ability to "stay" with a horse. Also, off the horse, she needs to get her core in better shape. Sit-ups, push-ups. If she's serious about riding and progressing, she'll do what it takes to train her body.
    The best is yet to come


    • #3
      tell her to do her whole course in 2pt/halfseat.. if she sits she gets no stirrup work


      • #4
        two point to the jump until she can count stridings and find a takeoff point, make her count one stride after the jump until coming out of two point.
        if all else fails.....take her stirrups away.


        • #5
          Put a grab strap / stirrup leather around the horse's neck. Have her hold on to that from takeoff to a stride after landing.
          Last edited by Janet; Oct. 5, 2010, 10:59 AM.

          chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


          • #6
            As a trainer I would go back to basics. Lots of two point at the walk trot and canter, with and without stirrups. I believe that a student should be able to do everything they can do with stirrups , without them. I incorporate this into each lesson and it helps build a leg that then supports the rider as they move onto over fence work. IMO if your student can't hold her two point over fences she should not be jumping, I would take it back a notch and build the base of support that will keep her safe and the horse happy.
            If you are lucky enough to ride, you are lucky enough.


            • #7
              Crossrails on the lunge line with no reins, arms out like an airplane if possible.... If the horse is not steady enough for that, put her on a schoolie so that she can ride without reins for a bit. Agree with the 2 point and grabbing mane.


              • #8
                Make sure it's not a function of her saddle fit. If she's fighting her saddle, it could be nearly impossible for her to maintain the correct position.
                Some nights I stay up cashing in my bad luck; some nights I call it a draw. -- fun.

                My favorite podcasts: Overdue, The Black Tapes, Tanis, Rabbits, How Did This Get Made?, Up and Vanished.


                • #9
                  Can she canter in two-point (without hands on neck for balance) for a couple minutes without a break? If not, I'd get her to that level of leg strength/balance before re-addressing jumping. And then I'd start with ground poles between standards so she gets the hang of the position change (moving hands forward to long release with mane) without the mental whammy of how things used to go.

                  Other ideas... if the horse isn't energetic enough to the fence and so is jumping awkwardly, it can be tough for a novice to stay with that effort. Too-long stirrups can also make it tough to stay with the motion.
                  Patience pays.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Janet View Post
                    Put a grab strap / stirrup leather around the horse's neck. Have her hold on to that from takeoff to a stride after landing.
                    Ditto. Plus I would have her hold on with her inside hand from 9 feet before the fence and tell her to keep her butt out of the saddle until the corner.


                    • #11
                      Transitions in 2 pt without using the neck or reins to balance. W-C-T-C-W-T- etc


                      • #12
                        Grab mane.

                        And shorten her stirrups at least one hole. She's not going to be able to stay off his back unless she can get out of the saddle. A lot of people neglect shortening their stirrups to jump and it causes all sorts of problem. It's hard to stay balanced when you can't get out of the saddle enough.

                        Lots of time in two-point. Lots of time with no stirrups.

                        I was having a similar problem with my rushy horse. He'd rush, I'd get a little left, he'd get upset and then rush more. It was an awful cycle. I started grabbing mane to help me stay out of his mouth. I then concentrated on my hips (with a shortened stirrup) and "squatting" without letting my butt touch the saddle until a few strides after the jump. (IMO, this ability is missing in a lot of riders these days. The majority of riders I see can't/don't stay out of the saddle long enough.) It wasn't pretty for a while and thankfully my horse was willing to let me experiment a bit, but it finally clicked one day and I could stay with him (balanced - not too far over his shoulder, not too far back) without dropping back and could stay out of his mouth.
                        Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
                        Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"


                        • #13
                          Needs strength. W/T/C in 2 pt/half seat without stirrups. Neck strap/stirrup leather around the neck. Keep the fences LOW. Have her trot gymnastics, holding herself up in her 2pt/half seat all the way through, holding on to neck strap and/or mane. If possible, lunge over small crossrails, arms out to the side. (I didn't read all of the above posts, but I'm sure all of these have probably been suggested.) STRENGTH = NO STIRRUPS! Build that independent seat!

                          (In Loving Memory of 'My Escort' 3/25/1985 - 3/17/2007)


                          • #14
                            Place a pole a stride away from the fence and tell her to imagine there are tacks on the back of her saddle. Grab mane over the fence and keep the 2-point until after the pole.

                            Shorter stirrups could help. Lunging over small obstacles could help, both grabbing mane and without hands. Really focus on weight in the heels, tight core, and eyes/shoulders up. Gymnastics are also very helpful if she can grab mane and stay out of the tack for the whole thing.

                            I wouldn't do course work with her until she's built good habits over singles and gymnastics.

                            Do you drill this a lot? Sometimes as a rider it's easy to over think things and make things worse on accident. Go back to the basics, lots of cavaletti and pole work to learn to be centered on the horse.

                            Does she just do this on this particular horse? Does the horse have a funky jumping style? Is there a flat jumping school horse available?

                            Thanks for being a conscientious instructor. The world cannot have enough of those.


                            • #15
                              As an experiment, try a few different saddles

                              What a timely thread. I had a new student I taught just this past weekend. A very good rider on a very nice hunter horse. The rider had great form and position and strength but upon landing from the jumps was unexplainably loose and touched her horse in the mouth - lightly - but it was still there.

                              Her horse is a TB built like a TB. I had the luxury of having a big shouldered uphill WB in the lesson and had her hop on him and try a few jumps. The difference was amazing and she noticed it right off the bat. She stayed connected through her inner thigh, inner knee and inner calf leg upon the landing phase and thus was totally independent with her hand and body.

                              Next, I pulled out a saddle with quite a bit of knee and thigh support and had her try it on her own horse. The difference was amazing. So, I joked with her that she had two choices...she could sell her horse or find a new saddle. It was that simple. Sometimes, no matter how much no stirrup work is done, the saddle is to blame by not offering the right kind of support for the rider and/or horse's conformation.


                              • #16
                                small gymnastics with stirrup leather around horses neck to grab. I also agree with shortening stirrups if she cant get her butt up.
                                I WAS a proud member of the *I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday* clique..but now I am 30!!!!!!!!!!!
                                My new blog about my Finger Lakes Finest:
                                She Ain't No Small Potato!


                                • #17
                                  Check her stirrup length, be sure it is proper for jumping.
                                  www.brydellefarm.com ....developing riders, NOT passengers!
                                  Member of LNHorsemanshipT & Proud of It Clique
                                  "What gets me up every morning is realizing how much more there is still to learn." -GHM


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Thank you everyone for all of the wonderful suggestions!!

                                    I have had her work on w/t/c in two-point and w/o stirrups, and over cross-poles & low verticles (no more than 2') and she still is having trouble. THATS why its so frustrating.

                                    I will make sure to CONSIOUSLY check her stirrup length at her next lesson. I was also thinking that setting up some bounce/1 stride gymnastics w/o reins might help.

                                    I have a standing martingale on the horse she rides so she can grab that as well as mane...but it almost seems like she never learned to move her hands up his neck either. (I didn't teach her from baby beginner).

                                    This student is a lovely soft rider that is ready to move up to the next level of riding w/finesse. And she is one of those teens that is just lovely with a good attitude. Can you tell she is one of my favorites. So I really want to make sure that I can support her and help her move up. Sometimes its nice to bounce around ideas when what you know doesn't seem to be working. THANKS again!


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Brydelle Farm- I love your sig line

                                      "Building riders not passengers" -- I say something along those lines all the time!


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by thrghbrd View Post
                                        Thank you everyone for all of the wonderful suggestions!!

                                        I have had her work on w/t/c in two-point and w/o stirrups, and over cross-poles & low verticles (no more than 2') and she still is having trouble.


                                        This student is a lovely soft rider that is ready to move up to the next level of riding .......<snip>.....
                                        If she's still having trouble, she is *not* ready to move up.

                                        Forgive me if this comes across as rude, but she sounds as if she's being pushed before she's ready. If it seems she's never learned to move her hands up the neck during her horse's effort, shes' not ready to move up to bigger jumps. And a single bounce isnt' going to fix it.

                                        She needs to learn an independent seat.. Putting her on a trustworthy horse down a chute of jumps-- say, four or five-- w/reins knotted and arms out at her sides, or hands on hips will help. OR ((horrors)) send her down that chute with her eyes closed. If she can't see the jumps, she can't anticipate to jump ahead, or fall back prematurely. Frankly, your student sounds as if she's got strength, but is lacking relaxation.

                                        And.. if she's chocking a horse consistently in the mouth, put it in a hackamore so you can limit the damage she does. Frankly, if she's not grabbing mane from 2 strides out, then I'd be screaming like a banshee until she does. And frankly, her inability to do so ALSO communicates tension.. which indicates pushing beyond ability.

                                        From your own descriptions, I really don't think your student is ready to 'move up'.