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Do you count on course?

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  • Do you count on course?

    I was watching the GM clinic from this past winter and GM made a comment that struck me as odd. During one of the rider's trips (I believe it was Molly Braswell's) he had her stop in the middle of her course and scolded her for counting out loud. Now, I'm not on par with the EAP kids, that's for sure, but I do the A/Os (hunters) and show up to the 1.35s and I still count out loud! In fact, my trainers all encourage it! I never realized that this may be a "no-no". I'm a rider who relies heavily on pace to find my distances as I don't have that coveted natural eye that some do, but counting aloud makes it significantly easier for me. Am I the only one who is no longer a "pony baby" (GM's words, not mine!) that still counts quietly while on course?
    Nine out of ten times, you'll get it wrong...but it's that tenth time that you get it right that makes all the difference.

  • #2
    Yes and no.

    I see my distances 6 strides out to every fence (doesn't matter if it's a straight shot or around a corner) and I count in my mind as I come up to the fence. But I don't count in long lines or when there's more than 5 or 6 strides, and I don't count out loud (but then I never did for better or for worse). I do "math," though, where in a long line like a 9-stride, I'll count to 3 (or however many strides I take before hitting my "six spot") after landing and then do my 6-count. Typically I don't care what number I come up with, despite the fact that I'm counting, it's more about giving myself an idea of where I am in the line. I do like it when the numbers match up, but I'm not particularly bothered when they don't as long as I "see" the fence early enough.

    I don't count at all during clinics, lessons, or when jumping at home. I guess I force myself to ride more off of my eye in a more casual environment....probably more because of the fact that I'm not walking the course in a setting like that than any other reason.

    I did a show with Greg Best the week before last, and while walking courses he made the comment (several days in a row during several riders' walks) that so many riders are so fixated on a number when it should be the ride that dictates the distance. His point being that he sees a lot of mistakes made BECAUSE of counting and reliance on a number.

    I would imagine that GM's point comes from a similar perspective in that a high level EAP kid or a high-level-aspiring-to-be-pro rider should be past the point of counting a number when the actual number shouldn't matter. My guess is that he wouldn't care as much with an amateur rider, but that he holds the kids who are supposed to be the future of the sport to a higher standard. But that's total conjecture on my part, so take it for what it's worth
    Flying F Sport Horses
    Horses in the NW


    • #3
      Depends on the horse. I either count or sing... I don't think I count out loud... singing out loud, maybe, but quietly. I might move my lips doing either... I'm not sure. It's unlikely that I will ever clinic with GM, so I'm not too worried about it.


      • #4
        I've always gone off my eye and never counted. In eq and hunter I'll count strides in lines in my head, but honestly in jumper courses I tend to go off my eye once the line is six strides or longer. I had a trainer that forced me to count out loud (3-2-1) wayyy before I was ready to actually see a distance and to this very day I see spots that are too long because of it. I had to really trian myself out of throwing my upper body one stride out (lots of jumping with my eyes closed!)


        • #5
          I count my rhythm. I do this for 2 reasons, I listen to the beat of the horses outside front foot and make sure it's on beat with my counting, so I *know* I have enough pace. And second, to keep my mind focused. If I'm not counting, my mind tends to wander, so its more of a discipline/focus thing than anything else.

          I count strides between jumps, mostly to make sure I stick to my plan. For instance, yesterday we were schooling a vertical, 4 strides (as the add) to an oxer, land roll back to the left. If I'd done the 3 it would have been extremely difficult to make the left turn after the oxer. Riding for the 4 on the approach to the line gave me a completely different canter than I would have if I were riding for the 3.

          I think when you are carrying enough pace, the distances will pretty much always work out well, it's when your horse is behind your leg and creeping along that you will find yourself in trouble. Going fast enough will hide a multitude of sins. ;-)
          Stoneybrook Farm Afton TN


          • #6
            I often find myself counting to eight over and over again. I do the same thing when running myself. Has nothing to do with the distance, everything to do with rhythm and my compulsive tendencies.

            I also count in my head during lines that ARE a related distance so I know where I am. Like TR I have a plan, and counting helps me follow it. It is more of a marker than anything else, though, if I need to modify the plan you can do that while still counting.

            But anything more that 6 or so is not really much of a related distance, so much depends on how you jump in and the track you take when the lines get that long, and you need to adjust accordingly. Especially bending lines. A straight 7 I will still count in my head but I can adjust if I see it is not going to work.

            Counting is a useful tool for those without a great eye. Maybe by the time you ride at Horsemastership you should be good enough not to need it, but I have no problem with it as a tool for the less-well-resume'ed.

            If you can think of nothing but counting that can be a problem, but at this point I don't really think about it, it is almost subconscious. I am thinking about whether I need to adjust to make the jumps work, or making myself let well enough alone.


            • #7
              I count a benign rythym in the corners, and then a little like PNW in my long lines in the jumpers I ride off my eye, my jumper mare is very game and scopey.

              Right now I have a ton of green bean horses showing in the baby hunters, I am counting the strides in the lines for this because the tiny jump and the green horse make me want to pick, pick, add. Which is fine at home but not for showing.


              • #8
                Sometimes I count, sometimes I don't. The only thing I dislike about counting down to jumps is that then I fixate on the number and can get left behind over the jump because we're not at zero yet. Obviously my horse doesn't understand counting too
                “Thoroughbreds are the best. They’re lighter, quicker, and more intelligent.” -George Morris


                • #9
                  That brings up an interesting point -- do you count backwards or forwards, counters? I count forwards, not backwards like a countdown. I can see where that might be too confining, it would worry me to do it that way and it would focus too much on the numbers for me. Easier to adjust your plan as necessary with the forward count, you can just see where you are and whether there is going to be room for the 7 or the 8, for example, based on where you are in the count.


                  • #10
                    I count I need it to help find a rhythm and pace. I count outloud but not enough for someone to hear me.
                    Dear life, please send grapes. Sincerely, I prefer wine over lemonade.


                    • #11
                      A previous trainer used to make me count out loud, several in fact did this. It never really did much for me, it just stressed me out when I was still learning to ride off my eye better (I feel old now... that was years ago haha). So, they ended up making me sing. I'd be going around doing my course singing "twinkle twinkle little star" and other embarrassing songs... Needless to say, I quit that as soon as I moved trainers lol.

                      I think it's a good exercise at first, but you should probably be able to count in your head or at least very quietly for a show type setting, and the girl in the GM clinic could probably see her spots without it
                      Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mrsbradbury View Post
                        I am counting the strides in the lines for this because the tiny jump and the green horse make me want to pick, pick, add.
                        This made me chuckle. Ain't it the truth!?
                        Stoneybrook Farm Afton TN


                        • #13
                          Oh, and to the point that the OP was asking about.

                          I do not count outloud, only in my head. If I'm having trouble concentrating, I might make my mouth move to try to get refocused on the rhythm, but I never count outloud.
                          Stoneybrook Farm Afton TN


                          • #14

                            Was she counting the number of strides down the line?
                            Or was she counting rhythm? "1, 2, 1, 2..." (people count rhythm different ways 1,1,1 or 1,2,3, etc)

                            I tend to not even count strides in my head if I'm on a jumper course. 4 strides or less is the only time I consider it close to necessary to do the numbers. I do count strides when I'm doing hunters, but never aloud. I count rhythm aloud if I'm helping a friend school her green horse to help her find a distance and remind her to count--but I'm not the one sitting on the horse then.


                            • #15
                              I count for rhythm because it makes a big difference on my two green beans and the spots we get, and usually down lines that are three or more strides just to make sure I'm where I want to be, but it's all in my head. The odd time my trainer has tried to get me to count outloud I feel like a dork, and can't seem to make myself do it. But otherwise I'm a very vocal rider and like to talk to my horse around a course, which I really need to watch when I'm doing hunters.


                              • #16
                                We talked about this at our barn one day whether we counted or not. I said I didn't but then noticed when I jump I subconsciously count 1,2,1,2. I never really count the number of stride in the line as it messes me up. I do sometimes, but in general I know what a 12 foot stride feels like. Although riding green beans, it does help me if I actively count the strides in line, but I forget most of the time.

                                Its not something I think about, but its something I am doing without knowing, so if I all of the sudden say wait what stride am I at in the line I know. I know that sounds weird.

                                I wouldn't say I have a great eye, but rather you get a good pace and rhythm and just ride to the jump. I never focus on finding a distance its usually just there.
                                I love cats, I love every single cat....
                                So anyway I am a cat lover
                                And I love to run.


                                • #17
                                  I count for rhythm.
                                  So I don't count up to a fence but I count between the fences and it doesn't matter what number I'm at when I actually get to the fence.

                                  I have one horse that has a way of going that makes me want to shorten, shorten, shorten.
                                  So as I go around instead of saying a number each stride I say "go, go, go," and give with my hand and add leg every step to keep myself from picking at him.

                                  It's all for rhythm purposes.
                                  Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


                                  • #18
                                    I count for rhythm, usually under my breath but occasionally out loud if I am nervous. I also count strides in the lines because sometimes I put the "Amateur" in Adult Amateur and forget where I am... Pretty sure there's not a whole lot I do on a horse that would get the GM stamp of approval, except maybe how well I polish my boots, so I'm not too worried about it.... He demands perfection from those he coaches, and I suppose that if one were perfect, one would not need to count because distances and rhythm would just come naturally. Or, so I'd imagine.
                                    Tucker the Wunderkind


                                    • #19
                                      Usually I'm too busy praying on the approach to a fence to count anything, but lately have gotten better about counting. There's also something in the whole multitasking thing and my general challenge with numbers that makes the idea of counting (internally or externally) a generally hysterical exercise.

                                      My trainer has recently gotten into me (deservedly so) for needing to be better at knowing the number of strides. She's told us to watch other riders and count their strides and not just riding off my eye and hoping for the best. At a recent show she so impressed upon me the need to count strides to a particular line that I did count them, and then promptly went off course.

                                      Was watching one of my numerous FEI World Cup DVDs while on the treadmill the other night and was practicing counting strides. Got so involved in one particular round that I wound up going bass-ackwards off te back of the treadmill.

                                      Clearly this counting thing is going to be a learning curve for me.
                                      My Blog: A Work In Progress


                                      • #20
                                        I am pretty sure that any kind of verbal communication with your horse is looked down upon in the show ring wether you are an ammature or a pro (talking hunters and eq here). Everything else equal the judge should place the non-talker/singer above the person who counts/sings/talks/etc.

                                        Not saying its an awful thing - but you should strive to get past it. You want invisible/unaudible aids. Atleast that is what I've always read and been taught is the goal for horsemanship.