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Moving up in the last 3 strides

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  • Moving up in the last 3 strides

    I notice that when I jump, my horse tends to advance to the jump within the last few strides, like she's rushing to get there. I'm a little uncomfortable with it, especially since normally it's unexpected..
    What do you guys think I should work on or do to prevent this from happening?
    Save The Date 08-15-2011

  • #2
    Well, there is "good" moving up and "bad" moving up. The good kind would be where both you and your horse are seeing the same distance and move up a little to get there in a nice flowing stride. The "bad" kind, which I am sure is what you're talking about, is when your horse sees the jump rushes towards it and takes over on you.

    My horse sometimes has the same problem and to stop him, I try to never jump jumps if he is running at them. This means we do a lot of circling, halting, transitions, trot fences, changing our track to avoid the jump, etc. on days when he is strong. Over a period of about six months this has made him much more polite and he does a lot less charging than he used to. I have also found it is important for me to be relaxed!

    This sort of problem can be pain related, so I would make sure your horse is completely sound, saddle fits, etc. It was pain and possibly related for my horse, and once we fixed what was bothering him it actually became possible to train him out of the rushing.
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    • #3
      A lot of riders tend to "see" a distance three strides out, and often cause the horse to make a little bit of a bid to get there. If you think that might be the case with your horse, a good way to address the habit is to throw a bunch of rails out on the ground and just WTC over them without making big changes - just incorporate them into your flatwork.

      Another reason why horses will make a bid like that is that the rider is approaching the jump without sufficient impulsion. You want a nice active canter on a steady, sympathetic contact that allows the horse to get to the takeoff in good balance.

      You might try increasing the impulsion of the canter you carry to a jump and see if that helps - that means energy, not speed. It's a bit counterintuitive, but it works. You want to meet the fence on a slightly forward stride.
      We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


      • #4
        It can also be caused by (perhaps subconscious) tension/anxiety/tightening/ eagerness on the part of the rider.
        Equine Photography in the Northeast


        • #5
          Figure eight a small vertical. If you and her both have something to think about on the way there and immediately on the land, it might stop the urge to rush on both your parts.

          When I set this exercise, I just put a vertical on the center line and jump it left to right, practice making a nice, balanced loop in my figure eight, and come back and jump it right to left and keep repeating. I find it helps so both parties' brains down.


          • #6
            Originally posted by ccoronios View Post
            It can also be caused by (perhaps subconscious) tension/anxiety/tightening/ eagerness on the part of the rider.
            Does your horse do this with others or only with you?


            • #7
              Two things it might be, apprehension or energy.

              My mare will tend to do this when she has excess energy.
              I do not mean hyper but on days where she is a bit fresh and overly responsive she will try to move up at exactly three strides out and will overjump and get flat.

              Ask yourself, when did we do this same excercise last?
              How did it go then?
              If they were calm and relaxed the previous time, then I would say energy.

              If it is new, try bumping the rail down a bit to check for apprehension or like another said, circle out when you feel the pace change, (be sure to vary your cirling direction or this could become a problem later on).
              You could also try bringing your horse back to a trot when the pace changes.


              • #8
                I am riding a horse right now who doesn't rush the last 3 strides, and I have realized that I have no idea how to ride that...every other horse I've ever ridden makes SOME change in the last 2 or 3 strides...

                Everything suggested here is true of me, I do tense up and/or get excited as we get close to the jump, I often let my horse canter long lines without enough impulsion, so he speeds up to the base, I can't see a distance any further than two strides out, so I have to adjust a little in the last three, oh, and sometimes I like to creep my upper body forward as we approach the fence (jump ahead) so my horse scrambles slightly to fix the imbalance I created. Now, I am not actually the complete disaster you might be envisioning. I have successfully navigated many courses on this horse...but I'm highlighting the habits that are preventing us from going to the next level. It wasn't easy to figure out the details of what I was doing, because it isn't DRAMATICALLY wrong any more (as opposed to when I was a very beginner, and it's extremely obvious.)

                OP, if you are riding a horse and even a little nervous that the horse is going to speed up/"get away" for a few strides, it is SUPER common to assume an instinctively defensive position, which usually includes leaning forward slightly. It's not a good instinct, but you're definitely not alone if this is what you're doing

                My coach is letting me ride some lesson horses for the next month or two, and so there's a big shiny spotlight put on my bad habits. She has a great Hunter horse, the one I mentioned, he strides to the fence like a metronome, and he's completely mellow. As a bonus, this horse EXPECTS to be ridden like a Hunter, light balanced seat, and NO INTERFERENCE. I send him around the course with almost no contact and if I try to add leg or change ANYTHING, it has to be from deep in the corners...trying to change this horse's plan three strides out just makes him move slower. What's this doing for me? I'm concentrating about 98% on my ride, and not at all worried that this horse will refuse or have a rail. He knows his job. It's interesting to ride a horse like this, where you need to ride him PROPERLY to get the job done, but provided you give him the right signals, he's confident in what to do.

                MY horse is fairly overreactive, and can often "fake" an animated, forward gait so that I am fooled...I mean, he's moving FAST and I can feel the energy...but it's not actual impulsion...hence the slightly defensive posture, which aggravates the scrambling, and before you know it, we're chipped in too close and my horse gets a rail. I hope to be able to take the improvements in my own position from the lesson horse and give my exciteable horse a much more consistent approach to the fence...not get drawn in to his nerves and suck down into a slightly fetal-position and let him jump from a hollow-out scramble stride. I'm also not worried about falling off or inducing a temper tantrum on the lesson horse...this horse is a HUNTER. His "tantrum" consists of tail swishing and ear flicking. MY horse's "tantrums" consist of absolutely filthy, dirty stops and spectacular bucks.

                Anyway OP, it sounds like you realize the gap, if you have a chance to go back and ride a horse who is more consistent, it could be a good self-check, make sure you're giving your horse the consistent ride. If you don't have another horse, then all the suggestions for using ground poles and other gymnastics to get used to keeping that consistent, steady pace over all sorts of stridings and obstacles without the stress of a jump will work too.
                Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior


                • #9
                  Theoretically, *nothing* should happen the last three strides.

                  Also, it's really common to only "see where you are" when you are that close to the fence.

                  Sigh. Someone has to change-- you or the horse-- and it's up to you to go first.

                  I, too, never let them jump unless its from a quiet, listening, relaxed place. I'll go back to poles (especially stopping over them), I'll trot low fences, I'll even stop a horse (who isn't a stopper) before a fence. Whatever, but he doesn't get to jump with the bit in his teeth... so he might as well chill.

                  Once you have this, a "waiting" horse, you need to make sure that *you* aren't gunning 'em. This is a pure mind-over-matter thing for those of us who only really see a distance those 3 strides out. You decide that you will leave the ground whenever it's time. You won't make any moves to get there. As Karen Healy was famous for teaching, you don't need to find a distance if you can just ride a rhythm.

                  That will wig you out, so you'll compromise with "Ok, I'll never go for the long one unless it's completely obvious that we have to. And then I'll only close my leg without ducking." Or, "I'll wait for the quiet one, but I won't touch his face. I'll bring back my shoulders, maybe say "whoa" and wait."

                  Horses really like it when we leave them alone those last few strides. They're already "on it" and don't need some boss man micromanaging them at that crucial juncture.
                  The armchair saddler
                  Politically Pro-Cat


                  • #10
                    ^ Karen Healey has an excellent video out there that perfectly illustrates this concept. She says something like, "You don't go looking for a distance like it's some kind of easter egg hunt!" Rhythm, pace, track, impulsion ... horses can jump well from a pretty wide variety of distances, so there is no need to micromanage the takeoff.

                    Drop the fences until you are completely unworried about the fence, and then just ride the canter. Let the distance come up however it comes up, while you focus on staying in balance, and riding straight while you keep your eyes up and your leg softly on. If needed, you can distract yourself by counting out loud or something. Do this, and you will find the distances sort themselves out very nicely. Ask me how I know this.
                    We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


                    • #11
                      lower the jumps to start

                      second, check your contact on his mouth. if you are holding him too much (not following with your arms and getting stiff, perhaps in anticipation of his bid to the jump 3 strides out), you need to practice following more with your arms and letting go of his mouth a bit. sometimes too much contact does the opposite of what you think, and encourages your horse to go forward.

                      put a landing pole 9-10' on the other side of the fence. your horse will see this and naturally learn to back off on the take off side of the jump.

                      try only trotting jumps. put a trot pole in front of the jump. this gives him something to focus on other than the jump, and he will back himself off a hair.

                      and yes, canter rhythm is everything. a lot of riders are comfortable in the slow, lopey rhythm when in reality, it is 4 beated because it is too slow and your horse has no impulsion to get under himself and jump. so he is forced to move up in pace to 'get there'.

                      i would practice a lot of canter poles before going back to jumping.


                      • Original Poster

                        Originally posted by PonyPenny View Post
                        Does your horse do this with others or only with you?
                        I'm the only one that rides her, so that's not easy to answer, she hasn't always done it, we haven't been jumping in the last 3 months due to me being busy with school work, and work, but she's always been a more forward moving mare. She's got a very athletic body and is very energetic, most of the time this is great because she has great stamina!
                        It does make me nervous, so I could subconsciously be tensing my legs or tightening, it's always possible. I'm quite a nervous rider, so..
                        Save The Date 08-15-2011


                        • Original Poster

                          Originally posted by pryme_thyme View Post
                          Two things it might be, apprehension or energy.

                          My mare will tend to do this when she has excess energy.
                          I do not mean hyper but on days where she is a bit fresh and overly responsive she will try to move up at exactly three strides out and will overjump and get flat.
                          This could be something to consider, she's WAY calmer in the summer, but during the winter I basically have.. 2/5 good rides in a week. Whether it's raining, windy, night time, close to feeding time, she always develops a mareish attitude and has a ton of energy.. Maybe it's seasonal
                          Winter = extra energy
                          Save The Date 08-15-2011


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by silanac View Post
                            put a landing pole 9-10' on the other side of the fence. your horse will see this and naturally learn to back off on the take off side of the jump.
                            Funny story, when I had first gotten her, within the first month or two (remember I was a REALLY green rider) My trainer was using canter poles in front of the small verticals we would be jumping. I kinda was just sitting there holding my position and basically she would just canter over both of them. WELL, there was one time, she just jumped the pole and the jump. Talk about a spread.. Yeah, I fell off. THAT was a fun learning experience! Really amusing though!
                            Save The Date 08-15-2011


                            • #15
                              My horse did the same thing for a bit last winter. At first I thought it was winter freshness. And it was, partly. The root of the matter, however, was the way we were riding the corners. It was his first year jumping inside and we were just tentative enough that we would back off the pace ever so slightly to balance up with the tighter corners/shorter distances and by the time we straightened up and sighted in on the jump, we were about a half stride off. Both of us would say, uh oh!, and surge the last three strides to get the distance. The key was pressing him forward through the turn to keep him from losing that half stride – that and a lot more flatwork to help him with his balance.

                              This winter, the indoor feels a whole lot bigger as he is stronger and able to keep better impulsion through the turns without surging to the jumps. I have also forced myself to work on my body position so I can be more balanced and steady with my body. As long as I keep out of his way, he will keep the same pace to hit the slightly tight one, as well as the slightly long one, if need be. The key is that I don’t let my body get ahead of him. Doing this weights his front end so we lose impulsion, which, in turn, makes the less than perfect distance look way less than perfect rather than a little snug or long.


                              • #16
                                I don't know if someone's already said this, but this doesn't seem to be a very common fix, but it's the easiest way to fix this problem that I know of.

                                Lower the jumps to between 2' and 2'6". Trot or canter up to the jump like you normally would, but stop your horse before you get to the jump without saying whoa. Stand for a few seconds, back up enough that you have enough space to establish a trot, and trot the fence, or if you prefer, back up several strides, turn, then trot the fence, but I highly recommend that you simply back up and jump it. But NEVER just turn out from the fence and take the fence again. My greenie used to rush fences and this helped SO much.