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letting go?

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  • letting go?

    Im a defensive rider when it comes to jumping, i dont know if its because ive had horses that pull you through fences, or bad falls that im trying to prevent, which in turn i might be creating. but ive heard from my old and new trainer that i need to let go. Im riding a new horse and my trainer wanted me to get used to him, so before we do any fences, she had us doing groung poles and working on distances. now this horse is an old level 5/6 jumper and he knows his job well. i felt when i was riding him that he was kind of taking charge to the "fence" (pole really). and i guess my intial reaction was to hold him back or half halt him, but my trainer told me to let go, and let him do his thing. on the flat work im fine, i dont have a problem, but as soon as it comes to jumping i get grabby. does anyone else have this same problem? or know any mental or physical exercises to maybe help me out? thnx!

  • #2
    What works for me is to close my eyes and wait for my horse to jump. Set up a low grid and as you are approaching it, close your eyes and wait.

    Works wonders
    "Common sense is so rare nowadays, it should be classified as a super power."-Craig Bear Laubscher


    • #3
      I had the same habit from a TB mare. My trainer had me work over poles and small grids and all I was allowed to do was steer to stay straight and grab the mane. It helped so much. I still need to remind myself when I get into situations where I think I need to take a hold that I should not. It's a hard habit to break because it really involves trust.


      • #4
        Grab mane when you're straight and a few strides out from the jump. That way you can't pull and you'll get used to the feel of going with the horse. Or know that you are increasing your chances of something going wrong if you are pulling to nothing.
        Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!


        • #5
          Originally posted by supershorty628 View Post
          Grab mane when you're straight and a few strides out from the jump. That way you can't pull and you'll get used to the feel of going with the horse. Or know that you are increasing your chances of something going wrong if you are pulling to nothing.
          I agree with this suggestion this is what I did. I never realized how much I was holding until my friend told me to just let go. And ever since I have my horse has been jumping amazing, and my confidence has gone up and nothing phases us any more. It seriously is the best thing you can do to help your jumping.


          • #6
            I had a trainer put me on push button horses with no reins (or stirrups) and I went around the course of 8 jumps...and around...and around...arms out to the side, airplaning. That'll cure you.

            Let the horse jump.
            Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.


            • #7
              i ride a horse now who does. not. like. to be held to the fences. at all. if you touch his face he gets mad. and goes faster. and things get real ugly, real fast!

              what i do with him is to literally think, "fall asleep" when i'm on course. as soon as i pick up the canter to go jump, i take several deeeeeeep slow breaths, stretch up, and think "take a nap."

              i don't know why, but it works. he relaxes, i relax, i stop wanting to touch his face. if at any point he starts to get tense or quick i stretch up, breathe deep, think "fall asleep" and things get better. if i don't do this, and grab for the reins, i pay for it!
              Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique



              • #8
                I do the EXACT same thing! No suggestions but I'm glad to read everyone's responses!!
                Zimpatico - 21 year old Hanoverian


                • #9
                  I have the same problem- so grateful to read the responses! Mine comes from riding dirty stoppers too often, I think. My trainer had me do a whole lesson without reins and it helped a lot. I find that is also helps me to find a distance if I just let go instead of holding back.


                  • #10
                    One more thing that might help is ride something a bit lazy or school horsie for a lesson or 2. You know the type that you have to kick to absolutely everything. It will make your brain switch from pull to kick, then when you get back on your more forward horse you just have to think......do nothing. Trust me much easier said then done!


                    • #11
                      I have the same issue, plus I like to jump ahead. So I jump what I call "over" my hands. I think its an old skewl term I got from back in the day!

                      Anyway, as I approach the jumps I think lean AWAY from my hands. So I think put my hands in front of me, lean my body away and wait.

                      My old horse was a rusher. And he made me PARANOID. My new horse is awesome but he'll let you know if you grab his face because he'll grab back. He's not a jerk about it but he'll start pulling you. And he'll let you know if you snatch up his face by putting his head up and hopping. He's a great teacher for that!!!

                      And if it makes you feel better, I read Anne Kurskinski's book lately where she says he has to tell herself "LET GO LET GO" before a fence.


                      • #12
                        I agree with the grab mane suggestion. Also, it helps to just focus on breathing rather than thinking about the jump and what the horse is doing. I know that when I start thinking, "Omg, we better get a good distance cause that jumps pretty big; he better not spook, etc" I automatically get tense. Even when I'm thinking good thoughts, sometimes I get tense. So if I focus on my breathing, in 1-2-3, out 1-2-3, then I don't have time to worry about other things and everything works out great since the horse feels I'm relaxed and he can do his job.


                        • #13
                          Count it out - either out loud or in your head.

                          1,2,3,4, 1,2,3,4 the whole way to the jump.

                          Works in two ways - helps you find your rythym which helps you see your distance which makes you less likely to hang in the mouth and gives you something to think about other than hanging in the mouth.

                          Sounds basic and beginnerish, but I still count all.the.time.
                          Proud Member of the "Tidy Rabbit Tinfoil Hat Wearers" clique and the "I'm in my 30's and Hope to be a Good Rider Someday" clique


                          • #14
                            i rode like you when i first got my horse: defensive, trying to prevent something bad from happening, which really only made it MORE likely to happen! my horse is pretty safe, he's not interested in letting me fall off, but if you anger him enough he's going to show it --what makes him angry? getting in his face when youre jumping. NOT okay. so 2 things helped A LOT with this: pick a rein length that works and try your hardest to keep it there. grab mane! CLOSE YOUR EYES and most importantly: PRETEND YOU ARE A SHORT STIRRUP KID! pretend you're just learning to jump (you know, except that you actually have balance and dont need to grab onto the mane, but do it anyway) and let the horse go. now it's much easier to let go of my horse once i got through several courses with my eyes closed 2 strides up to the fence and over, and just keeping a consistent rein and grabbing mane and saying ITS OKAY! its a lot more mental than anything. also COUNT up your lines and up to your singles ( 1 2 1 2 1 2 is easiest i think when going to singles)

                            Blitz <3 & Leap of Faith <3


                            • #15
                              Another GRAB MANE advocate here.

                              My new horse rushes if I pull on him. I switched him to a milder bit and I GRAB MANE. It's helping immensely.
                              Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
                              Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"


                              • #16
                                Lots of low grid work.

                                I got a 20 something 14/2 pony who had done some low level eventing with a young girl and he had learned to gallop to the base of the jump, stop, jump, gallop away to the next. Many, many days(read months) working on bounce grid work helped me to trust that he wasn't gonna gallop. That allowed me to leave him alone and maybe even push some instead of pulling. After doing these exercises and lots of transitions on the flat, he and I were a team when it came to jumping.

                                I also found that if he got quick and I pulled on a neck strap or breast plate he would slow down/rebalance much easier than if I got grabby with the reins.


                                • Original Poster

                                  thank you guys, for all the suggestions! i think im going to try them all too, haha couldnt hurt, i really like the lean away from my hands advice, since i tend to ride very forward anyway. And ill try and grab some mane. I really like this horse and am thinking of buying him, so id like him to not hate me, lol. ill let ya know what happens after my lesson on sunday, thnx again!


                                  • #18
                                    If your horse is an old Level 5/6 jumper he will take a bit of a feel to his fences or in this case pole, which might feel a bit "chargey". Most upper level jumpers will have a rhythm, but it isn't like a metronome hunter rhythm if you get what I mean. They are preparing to jump a bigger jump with a bigger physical effort, so they are usually ridden up into the hand and kicked off the ground. It can take a bit getting used to if you are not used to it. It will feel chargy and out of control. Believe me I have 2 ex grand prix horses who when I first got them and rode them around a level 2 course took their jobs way to seriously and made me feel like I was being flat out run off with. If I could have stood up taller and pulled more I would have .

                                    Everyone's suggestions are good, but just be careful with the no reins. Your horse might feel like he is being dropped at the base of the fence. I know both my boys want a steady feel, which can easily become a pull if I am not aware of it, but if I try to do the loose rein thing they both freak out as in "where are you??!!!".
                                    So maybe try to ride with driving reins. To do this hold your reins as though you were driving a cart horse. The rein comes up through your hand from the bottom. There is no way you can pull when you hold your reins this way. Plus it will occupy your mind a bit as well.
                                    "Half the failures in life result from pulling in one's horse when it is leaping."



                                    • Original Poster

                                      thnx blue! nice to hear from someone with ex high level jumpers too. i will take all these back and use them. =)


                                      • #20
                                        Put your hands where you can't grab!

                                        We all have those days! My trainer has me put my hands up high on the neck, look up, and let the horse jump. Of course this only works with saints but in my experience letting a horse do their job turns them in to saints!