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Eliminating a terrible instinct? So frustrated -- long.

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  • Eliminating a terrible instinct? So frustrated -- long.

    So I've been riding with my current coach for almost three years now. She's great and she's really helped me fine tune a lot of my riding and helped me shift my thinking away from being a little bit of a handsy rider to using my leg to achieve what I want.

    The one place where I can't seem to break this habit is approaching a jump. On an horse who knows how to jump I can ride a soft straight line to a jump and find a good spot -- I have a pretty good natural eye plus a good, consistent canter makes that not even necessary.

    But on green horses I've always had a lot of trouble. I can get the horse straight to a fence, but the second they start to wiggle a little a few strides out I make a desperate grab for my rein to straighten them, which of course doesn't help at all.

    For example: I was riding a greenie yesterday. We're tracking left and the jump is a single x-rail set right off the rail. We approached the jump, and coming off the rail we're straight. About four strides out I felt her start to veer right a little so I grab at my left rein and try to steer her head straight. She pops her right shoulder out even more, and then I basically just pull on my left rein in an attempt to drag her over the fence. She goes around it to the right.

    I don't know how to fix this. Let me say that I know exactly what I am doing wrong. I KNOW I can't steer her head over the fence. I know if her right shoulder is popping out I need right rein and right leg to tuck it back under her. I know grabbing at her face desperately doesn't help me at all. I know all of this...but I cannot stop doing it! I keep it in my head approaching the jump but the second things go wrong I revert to OMG MUST GET HER OVER THE JUMP.

    Both my coach and I are so frustrated. Its not the horse...I rode two greenies yesterday who are both easy and have been going super well over fences with more beginner riders with no problem. Yet with me they both did the exact thing. I can imagine what should happen, and my Coach has explained it to me time and time again. I just cannot stop myself from instinctively grabbing at my rein when things start to go wrong. I've been able to eradicate this in other areas -- supporting a fast horse with leg and not pulling on their bridle, turning with leg, getting a horse off their forehand through leg, framing through leg and not bridle...basically just riding off my leg first in every regard. I'm a somewhat experienced rider (I think?) but I'm realizing I had these instincts to go to the bridle first when things aren't going right.

    Sorry for the novel but I am so incredibly frustrated. I don't want to teach my green ottb to run around fences and with this happening on other green horses I don't want to start jumping and have it happen with him (which it has once, so now I'm worried to jump him again.)

  • #2
    Grab your mane out of the turn so that you have to ride off your leg.

    Comment


    • #3
      Longe line, no reins

      Comment


      • #4
        You could use a neck strap or a martingale strap and adjust it so that you can steer a little but not too much when you are holding it. Then a few strides out grab it with both hands to limit what you can do. That might force you to use more leg and less hands.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by CBoylen View Post
          Grab your mane out of the turn so that you have to ride off your leg.
          Good idea...that and bridging my reins so my one hand can't go WHEEE is on my list to try next. Today we tried halting on a straight line a couple of strides out and then legging forward and over the jump. That worked if the horse went straight and over, but the second they wiggled I started to clutch.


          Originally posted by kashmere View Post
          Longe line, no reins
          I'm not sure how this will help, since I don't have this problem on the flat or approaching fences on a less green horse. I've really worked hard the past few years to eliminate these bad instincts, but this is the one I can't see to shake.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by Right on Target View Post
            You could use a neck strap or a martingale strap and adjust it so that you can steer a little but not too much when you are holding it. Then a few strides out grab it with both hands to limit what you can do. That might force you to use more leg and less hands.
            Ooh yea that could work as well! Thanks guys...keep the suggestions coming!

            Comment


            • #7
              Definitely try bridging your reins. My horse likes to over bend to the left and I am prone to over use of the left rein. Put us together and we really struggle with straightness jumping out of left turns. Riding with bridged reins has helped more than anything else because when it's physically impossible to do what my brain instinctually wants, it forces a quick mental "reset" which gives the neglected logical portion of my brain a chance to take over and apply some outside leg instead.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by CBoylen View Post
                Grab your mane out of the turn so that you have to ride off your leg.
                I have the same stupid instinct, and this is what my trainer had me do. It really helped.
                Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique

                Comment


                • #9
                  Another suggestion along the same lines is to keep your hands so close together they are touching. It's an over-exaggerated correction for steering with your hands instead of your legs, raising one hand higher than the other, and several other faults, which if practiced over time can help build new muscle memory and break those pesky old habits.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Forgot to add that one advantage to keeping your hands touching vs. grabbing mane or a neck strap is that it doesn't change your contact with your horses mouth as you're approaching the jump.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I am thinking that your hand issue is perhaps secondary. The catalyst to the hand issue is the horse getting off center, perhaps the main issue is your balance in front of the fence. IE: you get out of balance and inadvertently ask the horse to move to one side or the other in front of the fence and then the correction or recovery with the hand becomes an issue.

                      If I were your trainer I would have you ride with no hands to try to determine the root of the issue; is it a balance issue with your body, your leg, or with you using your hands for balance in front of the fence, then try to correct the initial problem.

                      I would also work on getting you to learn to funnel the horse with the leg and to learn to "support" that leg with balanced hands. The hands are a guide that balances through further communication what it is that you are asking with the leg.

                      Grabbing mane etc. is a good idea, but if it is a hand balance issue that is the cause of the problem to begin with you are still going to have a horse that gets off center in front of the fence. Try opening the direct rein and supporting with the indirect rein as a temporary fix or until you can determine that it is indeed only a hand issue, not a balance issue.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        This isn't addressing the hands issue- but if the shoulder is going right and you pull the left rein, you are allowing the horse to go right. The horse follows his shoulders, not his nose.

                        Practice circles and turns from your outside rein and leg ONLY. All the inside rein is good for is opening to ask for inside flexion. Really, your legs and a supporting outside rein should do most of the work

                        And the reason I know this......my young horse literally will BOLT through his right shoulder when he gets a chance. I had to learn the hard way to keep my outside leg ON and not overbend him with the inside rein. He still tries to do this sometimes, but I counter act it with strong outside aids. (He actually does it after the fence- lands and then throws himself to the right)

                        ETA: One thing to try would be to drop the fence down to just a pole, and practice first at the walk keeping the horse straight. Then move to an xrail when she is going straight over the pole, etc. This will help with muscle memory. Forward is the key to straight also, so if the horse is getting behind your leg and wiggly, fix it with some flatwork for a few minutes and then re-approach the fence.

                        Good luck, I have some of the same issues jumping so I feel ya!
                        Last edited by leahandpie; Apr. 6, 2012, 07:38 AM. Reason: Added
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                        • #13
                          I tended to get a little "handsy" with my young jumper, and the best thing I found to correct the problem was to use my hands as a "funnel." By that I mean funneling the horse between my legs, through to my hands, and over the fence. I normally spread my hands a bit so the funnel affect was emphasized. I really had to become a "thinking" rider to break the habit... no more just "going with it;" I had to think through every part of every motion I made.
                          Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I like "the funnel" approach too. I had a clinic with Rob Bielefeld and he told me told me to separate my hands slightly once I see my distance. Concentrating on separating my hands helps me to avoid getting to busy with them just before the jump. It really helped.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Try doing the turn out of the shortside in counterbend.

                              Maintain barely visible counter bend feeling all the way to the base.

                              If she pops the one shoulder more than the other, approach from the turn that she would want to bulge out, so your counterbend will counteract it. So if she bulges right, do your approach off the left lead in counterbend.

                              Also you can try setting up a line of trot or canter poles and legyielding away from her bulge down them. Enter on the right side of the first pole and exit on the left side of the last one.
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                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by leahandpie View Post
                                This isn't addressing the hands issue- but if the shoulder is going right and you pull the left rein, you are allowing the horse to go right. The horse follows his shoulders, not his nose.

                                Practice circles and turns from your outside rein and leg ONLY. All the inside rein is good for is opening to ask for inside flexion. Really, your legs and a supporting outside rein should do most of the work

                                And the reason I know this......my young horse literally will BOLT through his right shoulder when he gets a chance. I had to learn the hard way to keep my outside leg ON and not overbend him with the inside rein. He still tries to do this sometimes, but I counter act it with strong outside aids. (He actually does it after the fence- lands and then throws himself to the right)
                                I was thinking the same thing. If the horse is pushing out right, then right rein should block the shoulder, right leg push horse back, and soft, opening left rein to give horse somewhere to go back to the left.

                                Easier said than done. Welcome to my world (minus the fences).
                                *&*&*&*&*&*&*&*&*&*&*&*&*&*&*&
                                "Show me the back of a thoroughbred horse, and I will show you my wings."
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                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
                                  Try doing the turn out of the shortside in counterbend.

                                  Maintain barely visible counter bend feeling all the way to the base.
                                  This is what also came to my mind. It's less about fixing the wiggle and more about preventing it from ever happening. If she's coming out of the corner and drifting through her outside shoulder you're either a) not supporting her outside and therefore she has no choice but to fall out when she seeks that support and finds it's not there (that's what greenies do, beg you to hold them up until they develop the muscle to hold themselves up), or b) have too much inside rein leftover from the preceding turn and are actually causing the wiggle.

                                  Could be both too Spiraling in and out of circles at the canter while maintaining a straight horse is a good exercise when you're not jumping.
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                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Another vote for bridging your reins - I ride all my babies like this so bc it stops me getting too busy with my hands - you can press the bridge into your horses neck and have enough contact to guide, but have to steer more off your leg....

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      an out of the box thought

                                      Although I don't jump anymore, here's what helped me with the oversteer problem-even on the flat.

                                      Where do you want the horse to be? In the center.

                                      So, when he goes off center, think of bringing him back to the center. Close both legs, lift (or whatever you want to call it) BOTH hands because center is where you want to be-not the opposite side of where you're going.
                                      Not my monkeys, not my circus.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Rel6 View Post
                                        I don't want to teach my green ottb to run around fences and with this happening on other green horses I don't want to start jumping and have it happen with him (which it has once, so now I'm worried to jump him again.)
                                        I was going to suggest having your own green horse (that you're crazy for) as a motivator

                                        Find a clinician in your area that is good with the green horses & give a clinic a try (with your horse).
                                        Sometimes you just need to have a different coach to work on those subconscious issues (at the very least, you will not have your usual comfort zone).

                                        Also rather than having green horses to "practise" with, you need an older experienced horse that will take advantage of any & all rider lapses (eg, trainer has one that evented with former owner, can jump very nicely but will always try to stop or run out if the rider is not paying attention)

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