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Influencing jumping form

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  • Influencing jumping form

    I'm curious how much success people have had influencing jumping form in a young horse. I have a 6 year old that did the baby greens last year. He's a very big horse, 17h+ and built like a tank. He's very well bred by one of the top conformation hunters from a few years ago. Disappointingly, this horse has some of the worst form over a jump! Since he's so scopey and big I didn't think much of it when he was jumping 2'6" in the baby greens, all he did was step over the jumps. This winter we've been jumping him higher and doing alot of gymnastics to try to get him to rock back. We've jumped him up to 4' since his breeding is full of jumpers and that height is where he finally starts to have to work. When he jumps, about 3 steps away he raises his head then inverts through his neck and back over the jump. It's so unattractive! I was hoping he could be developed into an eq horse but he doesn't present a pretty picture at all. I'm having his back checked since he appears pretty stiff. Any other suggestions other than veterinary work, chiro and more gymnastics? Can horses learn a more efficient way of jumping over time?

  • #2
    The jump form reflects skeletal angles and conformation-it cannot be changed.

    There is a possiblilty this one, strip horse lineage or not, just does not have the angles and length in shoulder and hip (and some confo Hunters are not as stylish as you'd think over the fences). Don't want to start down this road but some say the line horses are line horses and do not translate to the actual performance-that is in the various breeds as well as perfomance across the board. I'm in the middle on that one...but it certainly is true in some cases.

    Kind of counter to what alot post on here but, IMO. other then foldling the knees up tight and being tidy which larger fences encourage, I think one that jumps in bad form low is going to jump in bad form high...because they just physically can't arrange the parts. They may not pay attention too much to lower fences and get bad habits from stepping over too many of them but that is not the same as basic bad form.

    Another personal opinion but, to my eye, some of the big ones that are built "like tanks" have a much harder job and are much harder on themselves. That can make them dread the effort and create stress and discomfort.

    Now, in your case with the high head and inversion? He is probably also dropping his shoulder and heaving over off his forehand. You may have something going on in back. Or his back end just cannot support him due to those skeletal angles. He may not be able to rock back or it hurts to do so. I'd stop trying until you figure this out.

    I would think a full lamness evaluation looking for both clinical and sub clinical pain is in order, hocks and stifles particularly.

    If nothing is solved or if you do find something and fix it? IMO again, have another set of experienced eyes evaluate him as a Hunter-somebody neutral with nothing to gain one way or the other. We can all get a litttle barn blind sometimes...and not every horse that is supposed to be a Hunter has the tools to do it.

    Sometimes we get a little too close -so can our trainers and friends.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


    • Original Poster

      Guess I should clarify, his father did the regular confirmations but was not a line horse. Also, intent is not to make him a hunter but he needs to jump for a living. And, for what it's worth he's got a great shoulder but his hind end may be a weak link although not that weak.


      • #4
        For what it's worth...and not trying to start a fight or anything...Conformation Hunter, both Green and Regular, classes are alot smaller.

        Whether deserved or not, they have the reputation with some of being a home for the textbook perfect built horse that does not jump well enough to go against the larger numbers in the First and Second Year or Regular classes. They count on them getting around OK then moving up in the order when stripped, jogged and stood up for conformation judging.

        Some are quite good and can win anywhere...others...not so much.

        There are also many that feel a slightly straighter shoulder and hip with a longer back then considered ideal actually produces a better front end over a fence and more power off the ground then the extravagent, laid back and sloping versions and makes the horse more flexible thru the back and loin.

        This is all theory, others experience may vary.
        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


        • #5
          It's hard to say without seeing pictures of your horse over fences. And that may or may not help. It really depends on what his tendency is over the jumps. Does he "not use" part of his body?

          My OTTB had pretty....er....unorthodox form through the 4'3" jumpers. Even at 4'3" he didn't need to use his body parts at all. He can power off of his massive hind end without involving anything in the front half of his body and I have plenty of pictures of him with an ugly, loose front end over some pretty big fences. He often would invert a little before the fence and jump way over (often by several feet) the fence.

          At 1.40m/4'7" he FINALLY had to start using his body parts the way they were supposed to be used. He still doesn't have to try hard over most of the fences, so he's not textbook over everything, but the ones where he puts an effort in he looks really nice. And as he's started building up the muscles from jumping "correctly" he's started jumping more and more of the jumps in nice form.

          With all of that being said, his redemption through all of this is that he's always been the "allergic to wood" type, and won a lot of classes thanks to that tendency. But my feeling with a horse like this is that they'll rarely make it as a hunter because they'll so often revert to bad form if put to a bad spot (or a spot that makes it easy for them to jump poorly from). But they can often succeed in the jumpers.....and possibly equitation ring. But it all comes back to what exactly your guy is doing. Could be that he's "too scopey" for the 4' jumps, or it could be that he's limited in his ability because of conformation.
          Flying F Sport Horses
          Horses in the NW


          • #6
            Gymnastics may not be the answer, or, the type of gymnastics you're doing may not be the answer. For some horses that get tense through the neck and shoulder, a combination makes them tenser and stiffer as they back up. Add more height than they're used to and you have a very ugly picture. You need to fix the problem over jumps that the horse is already confident jumping, in my opinion. Adding some landing rails into your course, doing more trotting fences, maybe a chambon or draw reins to the belly, a different bit; hard to say without actually seeing the horse.
            The neck is the hardest part to fix in a jump. I actually think most of the time it's unfixable due to conformation or breeding (What was the mother? A performance horse? A trakehner?). But I did see someone fix a horse this year that I would have said in the past was completely unfixable. It was a second year horse, not a baby, so I would have thought the problem was already trained into it too far to remove. With a different program and some vetwork, including acupuncture, it started to use all the parts it wasn't using. So in the future I'm going to be more optimistic about that kind of animal if there's no obvious reason for the issue, because I would have made a mistake and put that one back on the van it came off of.


            • #7
              I'd say that in most cases (barring any major conformation faults), jumping form can be helped. We've had tremendous success helping horses clean up their front end with the use of gymnastics. That being said, these jumping "issues" were mainly isolated to their front ends, but uneven and open front ends that we've come across have been helped with training and time.

              Open front end as a 5 year old
              Taken yesterday as a 6 year old

              Uneven and open front end as a 4 year old
              Taken this summer as a 5 year old
              Ryu Equestrian & Facebook Page
              Breeding Horses Today, for the Equestrian Sport of Tomorrow.
              Osteen & Gainesville, Florida.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Lexus View Post
                All he did was step over the jumps ?
                I don't say that this is the case here but, if he's been allowed 'not to' jump kinda properly and just drag his feet around up until now in the jumping ring, it might takes some time before he realized he now has to work a little harder using is body properly.

                You say he gets inverted before or over the jumps, but how is his flat work going? Do you make him work round, supple and on the bit?

                Ground poles, gymnastics, and LOT of dressage work will help you.

                You are also saying is hind legs and butt might be on the weaker side? In order to jump properly, you must focus on building his muscles a LOT, especially its behind as he might not be able to jump properly and safely those 4' jumps....If he is not physically ready for that, he'll never have good forms and might injured himself! Aren't you saying you think he has maybe some back issues?

                My suggestion, if its not a conformationnal fault, go back to basic, muscle up, dressage and gymnastics. lower fences but he'd have to jump them, adding lots of ground poles before and after each jumps.
                ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

                Originally posted by LauraKY
                I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
                HORSING mobile training app


                • Original Poster

                  Thank you for the suggestions, some of them are very helpful. I don't want to post pictures of the horse nor do I want to mention his breeding because the stallion is very popular and is producing really wonderful horses.

                  That being said, the issue is through his neck and back, not his front end. His front end is tight and even. He has wonderful flat work with good dressage basics and he's in very good shape.

                  I think I've isolated this to either being a physical issue which I'm exploring, or a need to help him learn a better technique, which I will also explore through some of the suggestions here.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Lexus View Post
                    I think I've isolated this to either being a physical issue which I'm exploring, or a need to help him learn a better technique, which I will also explore through some of the suggestions here.
                    If it is in fact not a physical issue and he needs help through his neck and back, might I suggest low wide oxers to help him form a bascule.
                    Ryu Equestrian & Facebook Page
                    Breeding Horses Today, for the Equestrian Sport of Tomorrow.
                    Osteen & Gainesville, Florida.


                    • #11
                      Possibly a saddle fit issue...? My mare likes to just canter over the small stuff, and when it gets big, leave long and jump very big and flat (thankfully she's good with her knees). I was trying out a new saddle with a very different kind of tree and she rounded up over an X and jumped me out of the tack...
                      "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."


                      • #12
                        Ibex, which saddle and tree did your horse prefer?
                        "Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?" Sun Tzu, The Art of War


                        • #13
                          She LOVES the County Conquest, in an M tree. I'd had her in a Bates with the adjustable gullet while we waited for her to grow up. Also tried a Jeffries that she liked, but not as much as the County. She's a WB/TB, with big shoulders, withers, and pockets behind her shoulders, so the shorter tree points seem to work for her. They did NOT work for another friend's horse (HanxDutch) who has a very different build.

                          Keep in mind that I'm also pretty green and the conquest is a more secure fit for me as well, so I was able to ride better, and she jumped better. Strongly suspect a better fitting saddle had more to do with it than the rider tho...
                          "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."


                          • Original Poster

                            I think the saddle might have something to do with it. He seems to hollow much more with my trainer than anyone else. I had two male grand prix jumper riders show him for me this summer and he didn't do what I've described. That's why I am leaning towards physical (possibly caused by saddle) or, since he's green and young, he's still learning technique.


                            • #15
                              I *think* I understand your problem.

                              I am the proud mother of a gygundathon named Petey. He is by a stallion whose name rhymes with Pipeye A.

                              He is now 7 and he is FINALLY growing into his body (and his head and ears lol) and figuring out where his his body parts go.

                              Because of this, he has been kept at low heights for a long time, even though we knew he had a ton of scope.

                              His *form* over a 3' jump made me wince; legs flying akimbo and head in the air. (In fact, it still does)

                              6 Bar -- Nov 2010, 3'3"

                              I despaired of his future in jumping and actually started him in dray-sage. I became a member of the USDF and everything!

                              LSS: I found a new trainer who understood my boy. She started him back at basics and taught him how to use each vertebrae in his back and how to position each body part exactly where she wanted it to be.

                              3 months into the program
                              he is a new horse, and he just won a 6 bar class, jumping 1.60m (5'3") to do it! With an incredible bascule and knees under his chin.

                              6 Bar Nov 2010 5'3"

                              Bottom line: Do NOT give up on your guy. Gygundathons need lots of time. And, they need impeccable flat work so they can learn where to put everything. Personally I am not a fan of keeping jumps too low for too long. I think we did that because he wasn't really ridable to the jumps, so his *jumping style* deteriorated and the bad elements became ingrown.

                              (Notice that the all the pictures, above, were taken the same day -- at the beginning and the end of the 6 Bar. I dispair of fixing his form at anything under 1.10m; he just doesn't care.)

                              He has incredible scope, but it takes a 4'6" jump to get him tidy.

                              He will never be a hunter (I bought him as a weanling as my future A/O hunter...). I don't think he will be a big eq horse either because he is so uneven at 3'6".

                              But I am now excited that I own such a nice jumper!

                              Good luck and PM me if you want to share more frustrations. I have the t-shirt.
                              "He lives in a cocoon of solipsism"

                              Charles Krauthammer speaking about Trump


                              • Original Poster

                                Lord Helpus, I think you nailed it.


                                • #17
                                  LH, congrats on Petey's success. I've been meaning to tell you that I saw his full brother at a show this summer, and he is really, really nice. But not very tall.


                                  • #18
                                    Errr... maybe you could send your horse to whoever worked with Petey Amazing. And doesn't that make you feel better? Because I think we could all use a horse that jumps like that. Maybe they could start a 5' performance class for all of you gargantuans.

                                    Someone once told me that buying babies is like going to Vegas. Which is true. But I also think they are "like a box of chocolates... you never know what you are going to get."
                                    Trinity Farm LLC
                                    Quality hunters and jumpers at Midwest prices
                                    Like us on Facebook:


                                    • #19
                                      I have one too....of all my babies this one had the most instinct to go to a fence and he truely loves to jump but oh my goodness he was bad. He did so much growing we couldn't push him and he'd have periods where he simply could not handle his body and we would have to slow down again. That meant keeping on lower fences where he was really bad for longer than we would have liked. In between we could put him over bigger fences and he looked so much better so all hope that he'd make a hunter had not completely died. Last year he did the first year greens and his form started to take shape. I think he is actually a regular hunter because when he schools 3'9 he looks better than he does at 3'6 and still seems to have lots of scope to go to 4ft. His power is a very quiet power and he just lopes to a fence in that lovely rhythm we have come to expect from Pipeye A and then quietly pushes off the ground. He is now getting rounder and his form has improved so much ...... there is now a bit of a crack in his jump. He is confident and the goods are all coming together.

                                      My second one has always had a good jump to the point that he has rocked his own confidence when he pushes off and finds himself close to the top of the standards. He has had to learn to contain himself while his form is lovely. he is tall too but is a different shape....he is compact front to back and very balanced. Both horses have a huge step and until they can compress the lines are hard to ride...both horses like a bit of a gap too...esp the first one who needs the time to organize his body. They are very interesting horses for sure and both are liking the addition of some jumper work and showing. Not to Petey's level yet...big wow to him.


                                      • #20
                                        All of these comments are encouraging, as my 5-year-old is a lovely lovely win the hack mover and has a great brain, but it is painful for me to watch him jump. His front end is dreadfully uneven and even sometimes every which way, and sometimes he rounds himself beautifully and other times he pokes his nose up and out like he's looking at the trees on the horizon. He's also still butt-high! ~sigh~

                                        Babies. Love him to pieces though.
                                        "Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?" Sun Tzu, The Art of War