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"Long eye" - always getting the longer distances

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  • "Long eye" - always getting the longer distances

    I like to ride pretty forward to the jumps, and as a result I always seem to "see" the longer distances. Sometimes it works out just fine but occasionally I find myself launching from too far back. I think this habit stems from my eventing days when I rode like heck to every jump.

    Anyway, I have this young hunter now and I don't want to be rushing him off his feet, so I've been trying to find quieter distances for him. The problem is, I don't really see it unless I'm moving forward. I've tried sitting back a little and letting him coast into the jump, but then I find myself "picking" at him because I just don't see anything.

    Any advice or exercises that I can try?

  • #2
    Set up a trot fence with a trot pole.. you can do that into a five or six stride line. Trot in and canter out to the second fence. Repeat exersize until relaxed open stride and soft take off happens. One thing I noticed riding at a Hunter barn, they do a lot of repetition - using just use a few jumps - all of it is focused on slowing things down.

    Also you can canter ground poles.
    Put your energy on what you want to grow!

    Comment


    • #3
      just wanted to say I have no advice, I struggle with this too. I had a very very adjustable and forward horse when I really "learned" to jump and as a result I too see the long ones. Terrifies me honestly. I second cantering ground poles, that did help me a bit.

      Comment


      • #4
        Ug! I have this same problem too. Sometimes I scare the heck out of myself.

        Comment


        • #5
          I have the same problem. My trainer yells "You're giving me grey hairs!!" and "Put your eyeballs back in your head!!"

          She tells me to follow & maintain my rhythm out of the corners and just wait it out. I typically don't try *finding* anything, just working with what shows up.

          Another trainer had me come out of the corner, get straight, and then put my hands in the mane--can I tell you how hard it was to fight the urge to pick?! But she made her point: we found the right one every time (on my baby horse too!). That was a big "aha" moment for me.

          Good luck

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by Mayaty02 View Post
            just wanted to say I have no advice, I struggle with this too. I had a very very adjustable and forward horse when I really "learned" to jump and as a result I too see the long ones. Terrifies me honestly. I second cantering ground poles, that did help me a bit.
            I hear ya! When I was taught to ride as a kid it was just "point-kick-go". I was never taught to count strides or look for a "spot". I think I was well into my teens before I even realized that there was an actual method to the whole thing. I didn't ride in hunter classes until my 20's, so now I'm sort of stuck with the long-distance eye; which doesn't always work out the way I would like. Sometimes it makes for a beautiful jump; other times it's just hairy.

            Comment


            • #7
              If you're forward, but flat, you'll get to the long spot. If you're forward with impulsion, you should be able to pick your distance. Work on creating the round "good" canter and you should be able to close up the excess gap.
              Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
              Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by RugBug View Post
                If you're forward, but flat, you'll get to the long spot. If you're forward with impulsion, you should be able to pick your distance. Work on creating the round "good" canter and you should be able to close up the excess gap.

                ^^ this

                During a lesson recently there were about 7 of us. Those are great lessons because you can learn from the other riders. Trainer was telling a gal a few strides away from the jump - "slow slow slow!!!" then her horse was at a crawl... not good... the next gal - trainer, same thing - "slow slow slow" and that gal actually had the same rhythm but the horse rounded "up" with impulsion.... I was like OMG I got it... your really not "slowing down" your slowing UP! Trainer said YES exactly.
                Put your energy on what you want to grow!

                Comment


                • #9
                  trot a TON of fences the spot at the trot is the same as the canter one. really pay attention that you aren't changing (closing) your angle as you approach. Work around so you vary the distance away to the fence for variety and just force yourself to wait to the base... trotting first don't worry if you get left a couple times.. just wait wait wait..

                  sometimes when you come out of the corner and only see a long one.. blink hard and look again..there will be a different one. oh and while you are waiting to find that deep one.. still support with your leg, in case it's a pinch too deep.


                  You might also want to look at some of the excercises in Linda Allen's book..really great for getting into the habit of knowing exactly where you are in the ring.
                  I can explain it TO you,but I can't understand it FOR you

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Everytime I see someone with this problem, their canter is weak... every time. Doesn't matter how much they slow down, speed up or change their position. A good "up" canter with the hind legs reaching far under will make 75% of all distances "good" distances. This is not because you see the distance better (although you will with time), but because it sets the horse up to adjust easily and have the power to take of a little long or short while making a nice picture.

                    You need to work on true half-halts and transitions between the gaits. Remember when lengthening and shortening the canter the beat does not change. This means the bigger the canter stride the more uphill impusion you will need to keep from getting faster. Maintaining rhythm while changing length is a good test to see if your work is correct.

                    For practice using your eye from a "normal" hunter canter, use lots of gymnastic excersises. Poor practice will only make things worse, so set your self up for success and you will improve dramatically. Trot in so you are set up for the step every time. If you miss, you know the problem is in your canter and not your eye. One of my best rides ever was about 8 years ago when I did a line of about 8 one strides at 4'. My horse's impulsion, stride length and suppleness were perfect. It felt like we could keep going for another hundred jumps. I could see the distance to each jump going down the line and maintain a perfect stride length. It was amazing! I try and remember that feeling before every round at a show and I ride so much better! For three months in the winter we do only grid work or angled lines in the indoor. I come out such a better rider every spring compaired to the much smaller improvement in the fall.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by flyracing View Post
                      Everytime I see someone with this problem, their canter is weak... every time. Doesn't matter how much they slow down, speed up or change their position. A good "up" canter with the hind legs reaching far under will make 75% of all distances "good" distances. This is not because you see the distance better (although you will with time), but because it sets the horse up to adjust easily and have the power to take of a little long or short while making a nice picture.

                      You need to work on true half-halts and transitions between the gaits. Remember when lengthening and shortening the canter the beat does not change. This means the bigger the canter stride the more uphill impusion you will need to keep from getting faster. Maintaining rhythm while changing length is a good test to see if your work is correct.

                      For practice using your eye from a "normal" hunter canter, use lots of gymnastic excersises. Poor practice will only make things worse, so set your self up for success and you will improve dramatically. Trot in so you are set up for the step every time. If you miss, you know the problem is in your canter and not your eye. One of my best rides ever was about 8 years ago when I did a line of about 8 one strides at 4'. My horse's impulsion, stride length and suppleness were perfect. It felt like we could keep going for another hundred jumps. I could see the distance to each jump going down the line and maintain a perfect stride length. It was amazing! I try and remember that feeling before every round at a show and I ride so much better! For three months in the winter we do only grid work or angled lines in the indoor. I come out such a better rider every spring compaired to the much smaller improvement in the fall.

                      Great post..... I agree with the canter being right..

                      So I guess a good exersize or thing to practice would be at the canter - no jumps involved practice shortening and lengthening stride while keeping the same beat... and the shortening being "up".

                      That's why my trainer likes the "big" horses (movers) because you don't notice the stride lenght changes.... they are more lofty.
                      Put your energy on what you want to grow!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        How young is your hunter? I mean "in the head" and "in the butt." Does have have a half halt? Can we lengthen and shorten at the trot and canter and still feel rideable? His he strong enough behind to do that?

                        How big are the fences?

                        The way the "greats" think about making hunters has much, much less to do with the rider picking a distance than you thing.

                        IMO, the gurus teach a hunter three things:

                        1) "The lick"-- the one rhythm that works for them. Usually at home this is quieter and the fences are smaller, especially in the beginning. They'll want this horse to choose this canter every time.

                        2) To jump out of that rhythm. They leave the ground when the fence comes up, that's all. This is good for you, too. It will be a mental discipline thing that will be hard!

                        3) To let the jumps tell the horse what to do. Rider is supposed to keep out of the way, both in appearances but also in the training process.

                        So try what doublesstable describes:

                        Originally posted by doublesstable View Post
                        Set up a trot fence with a trot pole.. you can do that into a five or six stride line. Trot in and canter out to the second fence. Repeat exersize until relaxed open stride and soft take off happens. One thing I noticed riding at a Hunter barn, they do a lot of repetition - using just use a few jumps - all of it is focused on slowing things down.

                        Also you can canter ground poles.
                        In your spot, I'd trot in to a smaller vertical with a "cheat rall" in front (and maybe one behind) for a long time. You need to break the habit of looking for a distance at the canter since what you are doing isn't working.

                        The cheat rail means you don't choose when you leave the ground, the pole does. Trotting means your eye and body do something really different than they have in the past.


                        If you don't land in a soft, waiting canter, I'd do a single vertical for a while. I'd land in the canter I had and stop (not roughly) in a straight line afterward and let the horse chill for a minute. If the canter is soft, you can keep going. If not, you do something that makes your horse's mind slow down.

                        Trotting and cantering poles as part of your cure is another topic and good idea. If things are really bad, you can start there.

                        Jumpytoo has a different way of saying the same thing:

                        Originally posted by jumpytoo View Post
                        trot a TON of fences the spot at the trot is the same as the canter one. really pay attention that you aren't changing (closing) your angle as you approach. Work around so you vary the distance away to the fence for variety and just force yourself to wait to the base... trotting first don't worry if you get left a couple times.. just wait wait wait..

                        sometimes when you come out of the corner and only see a long one.. blink hard and look again..there will be a different one. oh and while you are waiting to find that deep one.. still support with your leg, in case it's a pinch too deep.
                        When you get to cantering and will want to go back to picking a distance, you need this "I'll wait. I'll do nothing," mantra in your head. If this "fails" the first time because you are too quiet and chip, you can "add" leg and impulsion later. But you need to find a canter and ride that's "less" than you are used to now.

                        If your horse is adjustable on the flat, you'll have an easier time. You'll be able to make small changes way out from the fence that get you to the quiet distance without a big adjustment or the lengthening a few strides out that you were taught. But first you need to teach yourself what it *feels like* to leave close to the base of the fence and spend a lot of time waiting.
                        The armchair saddler
                        Politically Pro-Cat

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Ok agree that it's "all about the canter" which is why I didn't have a problem with the long ones on my junior horse because we had a great canter and rhythm. I am used to being able to move up when I see the long one, and with the warmbloods I'm riding these days, they are just not there when I ask for a move up. They are usually so behind my leg that it is really scary now for me to jump. These are lesson horses by the way, not horses I can really work with every day. Any other suggestions when there's not alot you can do to improve the canter and you don't want to pick them to death? I like the "blink hard" and another spot will appear...anything else?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I have battled a long eye my whole career. And while I agree a good canter helps in that your horse can still jump nicely from the long spot, sometimes if you are cursed with this problem, you will still be long it just won't look so gosh-darned bad. But it gets dangerous when the oxers get big, so I have battled to retrain my eye.

                            It is "fixable." It is so fixable that later I got a short eye and proceeded to bury my horse to the base of everything. Fun! But that's a better problem to have because with a good canter that IS fine 99% of the time.

                            First, of course, make sure you have a good canter. Then...

                            It's trial and error. You have to find something that works for YOU and your eye. So I am by no means saying that the two suggestions below will solve your problem, but they are helpful to me so might be worth trying.

                            The thing that helps me most is cantering a LOT of poles (because the takeoff spot for poles is closer, I get used to the deeper spot being "right").

                            Second, looking at the jump about 2' up. If I look at the top rail or the back rail I will be too long. I when I come around the corner, doesn't matter what kind of fence or what height, I look about 2' up the front element and ride to that. Add an extra kick if it's an oxer.

                            You have to find something that works for you. A great canter can cover it up, but IME it's still there and you need to fix the hole or someday it will come back to haunt you. I'm in the process of redoing the whole thing again as I took some time off and now I have a long eye again. Good luck to you, I'll be doing the above exercises ad nauseum this spring!

                            It is a constant struggle for those of us without a natural eye for distance. But with enough practice you can overcome it. I had a really good eye when I was riding 12 horses a day. Some things are not like riding a bicycle, an eye for distance is one of them.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Thanks for the replies.

                              The horse is 4 years old; he is pretty adjustable for his age; very responsive (almost to a fault); and an all around really cute guy. Not perfect, but certainly understands how to change pace within a gait and is very soft (if he didn't know this I wouldn't jump him at all). He stays round nicely at the trot, using his back well; then at the canter he goes through phases where he can hold it together and sometimes he can't. It is something we are working on. He has a little too much "whoa" - when I half halt he will sometimes come back to me waaay too much and occasionally even break to the trot. I know I need to ride him with more leg, he's probably behind my leg too much. When I put my leg on, he immediately lengthens. This is an exercise we've done ad naseum so he knows what that means.

                              The jumps are tiny - 12" to 2'3" tops. some are little logs that we have in a field. We don't jump that often which of course is part of the problem. However, having the "long eye" has been a lifelong problem on several different horses.

                              I will set up more canter poles, I do them but probably not enough. Should I set up one strides, bounces, or just single poles? We do TONS of trot poles - I currently have 7 in a row set up in the field about 4'10" apart. He loves doing them! I think they have really helped his rhythm and strength.

                              I will set up the exercise with the trot in - five strides - canter out over the vertical. I think this would help both of us. Should I have trot poles coming into the X? I am assuming I should add the sixth stride since I'm trotting in?

                              Thanks for the advice! Keep it coming. I'd love to hear more suggestions!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I wold say if you set your X and then 5 to next, trottingin would be 6. Get that down pat, and then try holding for 7. That's where you will really learn the adjust and wait. Ideally your horse should be able to trot that in 5,6 or7 but since you like the long one I would never lengthen for the 5. With the fences tha low, pull the line in a tad since your arc is smaller over the fence.

                                With a young horse schooling so low, I would really work on anice rhythm on te flat, then when I go to jump I would do VERY LITTLE spot picking for him. Get your rhythm and let him learn to find his own way.. no big moves so hold if he keep leaving long (to help him learn to wait).

                                It sounds like I am saying to do 2 different things but really it's the same thing..jog singles first if he is staying quiet just pitch the reins. don't be in a hurry after you land, stop on the line, count to 8 and the turn opposite of the natural turn and loaf back to your start point and pick up the jog. Do that til you can both do it with your eyes closed. Then go to your line. Keep your rhythm and stay soft.. unless you need to hold toget the correct step. If he gets there too easy pull the line in a bit so you can get used to being at the deep one. Stop on he line. Count. Loaf back to the start area, dont ever be in a hurry. Going forward is too easy for you. Learn to wait "in your head" and just chillax. The long spots will go away.
                                "The Desire to Win is worthless without the Desire to Prepare"

                                It's a "KILT". If I wore something underneath, it would be a "SKIRT".

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  The exersize I found here on COTH I really like is -

                                  --------- ground pole

                                  (9')

                                  XXXXXXX cross rail

                                  (12')

                                  --------- ground pole

                                  (9')

                                  XXXXXXX cross rail


                                  (12')

                                  --------- ground pole

                                  (9')

                                  XXXXXXX cross rail

                                  (12')


                                  --------- ground pole

                                  Come in from the first ground pole set at 9'.. your job is to keep the horse straight - riding with a soft hand and steady leg making sure horse has impulsion is balanced/soft and quiet. Let the horse do the work - you need to keep your eyes "Up" pick a post rail on the arena fencing that is in the middle of the jumps you are jumping. Sometimes I will go for a long one if I am looking down at the jump. Use your peripheral vision to see your jump.

                                  Make sure you are not leaning or droping a left or right hand/leg etc.

                                  Its a super fun exersize that really gets the horse thinking on his own...

                                  Measure it using a measuring tape for sure.
                                  Put your energy on what you want to grow!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by flyracing View Post
                                    Everytime I see someone with this problem, their canter is weak... every time. Doesn't matter how much they slow down, speed up or change their position. A good "up" canter with the hind legs reaching far under will make 75% of all distances "good" distances. This is not because you see the distance better (although you will with time), but because it sets the horse up to adjust easily and have the power to take of a little long or short while making a nice picture.

                                    You need to work on true half-halts and transitions between the gaits. Remember when lengthening and shortening the canter the beat does not change. This means the bigger the canter stride the more uphill impusion you will need to keep from getting faster. Maintaining rhythm while changing length is a good test to see if your work is correct.

                                    For practice using your eye from a "normal" hunter canter, use lots of gymnastic excersises. Poor practice will only make things worse, so set your self up for success and you will improve dramatically. Trot in so you are set up for the step every time. If you miss, you know the problem is in your canter and not your eye. One of my best rides ever was about 8 years ago when I did a line of about 8 one strides at 4'. My horse's impulsion, stride length and suppleness were perfect. It felt like we could keep going for another hundred jumps. I could see the distance to each jump going down the line and maintain a perfect stride length. It was amazing! I try and remember that feeling before every round at a show and I ride so much better! For three months in the winter we do only grid work or angled lines in the indoor. I come out such a better rider every spring compaired to the much smaller improvement in the fall.
                                    This is a great post. I struggle with this on one of my horses, too. He is very lazy if you let him, and quite sneaky about falling behind my leg. When I first started riding him, I found myself trying to compensate by letting *myself* get a little forward in my position rather than making him get back in front of my leg and stepping forward with his hocks. When I did this, I would find myself finding the somewhat scary, weak flyer. With him, I have to think about the quality of my canter every step. When I have the quality canter I don't find the long weak one.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Meadow36 View Post
                                      I will set up more canter poles, I do them but probably not enough. Should I set up one strides, bounces, or just single poles?
                                      All of the above, and lines to boot (which are great -- do them in the regular, then the add, then the regular, to work on adjustability and your eye).

                                      But single poles and lines will do the most to readjust your eye, I think, because you get the most "practice" over them, recreating the scenario. I personally don't benefit from gymnastics that much because once I jump in to a line or related distanceI am OK, I can get to the second jump fine -- it is the first one where my eye is unreliable. If you are the same, then single poles are what to practice. If not, the lines are what to practice.

                                      A great pole exercise for the eye is the old eq exercise where you start to count to 10 backwards what you think is going to be 10 strides out, maintain the same canter and see if you are right. Or however many you think you can muster without totally embarrassing yourself. -- even try 4 or 5 and see how you fare, 10 is an advanced test of the eye.

                                      A variation on this which is also great for adjustability is to do the same, but commit to "fitting it in" and adjust your canter stride to make your initial decision work (if it wasn't totally batty). Can be fun, but best to do it in private or in your head until you kind of get the hang of it if you are the easily embarrassed type. I'm usually awful the first few times I test myself on this one again.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I haven't read all the posts (sorry, faux pas, I know!, but read the OP), but wanted to suggest something I learned in a clinic a few years ago - dropping you eye three strides out - it works for me every time! Essentially, if I know it's a long fence, I take my eye OFF the jump, then three strides out, I "find" it again, and this "trick" has worked for me every time.
                                        Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.
                                        W. C. Fields

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