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Question: With limited jumping on your own horse...how do you improve your skills?

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  • Question: With limited jumping on your own horse...how do you improve your skills?

    I have a question...

    I have a 17 year old horse who is absolutely amazing and will be with me for the rest of his life. I limit our jumping to once sometimes twice a week, but just a handful of jumps each time. Fence heights are always between crossrails and 2'6 at the most.

    I'm an adult re-rider. I was very brave kid and seemed to ride quite well. Trying to come back as an adult...hmmm not brave and not talented. I've been back to riding for two years and I've had my own horse for the last year. I limit my horse to 2'6 and have jumped other horses a bit higher. (Jumped a horse through a line of gymnastics that ended at 3'6 and smiled for a full day!)

    For those with only one horse or an older horse that you limit your jumping on how do you really progress as a rider?

    Do you lesson on other horses? How difficult/easy is it to find a trainer with horses that you can lesson on at 2'6-2'9?

    Do you find that jumping your own horse once or twice a week is sufficient to develop your skills?

    Thanks for sharing!

  • #2
    I guess the question is WHY are you limiting your horse to "just a handful" of jumps? I the horse has soundness issues, that is one thing, but age, in itself, is no reason to limit your jumping so drastically. There are plenty of horses older than yours who are actvely competing.

    That being said, a good intructor should be able to give you guidance on specific exercises which focus on the areas YOU need ot practice, without overly stressing your horse.

    It is hard to make specific suggestions without knowing your particular strengths and weaknesses.

    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


    • #3
      Originally posted by Janet View Post
      I guess the question is WHY are you limiting your horse to "just a handful" of jumps? I the horse has soundness issues, that is one thing, but age, in itself, is no reason to limit your jumping so drastically. There are plenty of horses older than yours who are actvely competing.

      That being said, a good intructor should be able to give you guidance on specific exercises which focus on the areas YOU need ot practice, without overly stressing your horse.

      It is hard to make specific suggestions without knowing your particular strengths and weaknesses.
      exactly. there are 17 years old that are out competing, and i'm not talking little 2ft fences. i'm talking 3'6, ect. there are 17 years old competing at rolex too. as long is his limitations are due to soundness problems, i see no reason to be limiting his jumping so severely. there is a 22-23 year old at my barn who still has a blast and gets a little spunky doing 2'6 stuff occasionally. he even took a student over her first 3ft fence a few months ago.


      • #4
        My BO was reserve champion VHSA adult amateur hunter for her age group on her 17 year old horse. He was not babied nearly as much as mine! Just lots of turnout and attention to the shoeing.


        • #5
          My friend has a horse that is around 23 or 24 still competing in AO jumpers (4ft+). Pretty sure he did a Grand Prix last year. Another one in that age bracket still winning the 3'7" Child/Adult. So like others have said, AGE alone is no reason to limit.

          But I certainly understand limiting him if he has arthritis or any soundness issue and you don't want to push him to hard. A lot of people push their horses to hard into early breakdown but at the same time there's nothing wrong with using his potential. A lot of people only jump their horse once a week and progress fine, but they may be doing more than 'just a few' jumps in those sessions.

          Riding other horses is a great way to improve your riding skills. I only ride my horse 2 days a week right now (horse is on training board 2 hrs away). But those 2 days I go ride I usually sit on 3 horses a day, all with very different strengths/weaknesses. The other 5 days a week I ride at a local barn schooling green ponies for a trainer there. I think you should be able to find a trainer who has horses you can lesson on and learn. Are you taking lessons now?


          • Original Poster

            Thank you for all the thoughtful replies.

            I adopted my horse last year from a rescue and he was in pretty bad shape at that time. He couldn't even pick up his left lead at all and was very underweight. By posting on COTH I found out who he was and that he had previously shown in the A/O Hunters and Adult Eq. He has regained all his muscle and is in fabulous condition now.

            Any adult riders care to weigh in on how they improved their jumping skills. How often do you jump? How many lessons a week?
            Last edited by imnotclever; Jun. 4, 2011, 01:07 PM.


            • #7
              You can tune your eye with ground poles without putting any particular stress on your horse. Build yourself a whole "course" of poles on the ground, and work on finding (and then maintaining) the right canter so you can meet the poles easily. Then build "lines" of poles and practice adjusting your horse's stride - so that you can do the normal number of strides the line is set for, go forward to get one less, and collect to do one more. You can make that exercise even more challenging by the way you mix those options up; if your horse is naturally forward, the hardest one to do is the add, but it becomes even more challenging to do the add *after* you leave one out.

              I'd also make your instructor aware that you'd like more time in the tack if and when she has other horses available. The more practice you have, preferably with a variety of horses, the better and stronger a rider you will become.

              Have fun!
              We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


              • #8
                Many jumping issues are really flat issues, so it may help you to recognize and isolate the things you want to improve/work on, so you can come up with flat work that will directly benefit your jumping. Working over slightly raised poles and practicing adjusting strides between them, or putting together as pole course can also help you work on perfecting the steering and keeping an even pace around a course without needing the jumps.

                I would guess the the availability of lesson horses for 2'6" would greatly depend on your area. Around here, most good lesson barns limit how high their lesson horses jump to preserve their soundness, with 2'6" being a typical maximum. Beyond that, students are usually expected to lease or buy a horse.

                I teach returning adult rides who only ride once or twice a week, and I do see noticeable improvement in their skills, but fitness levels are harder to improve, and usually require either more that twice a week riding, or some other physical activity.
                Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                • #9
                  You sound like a very considerate owner and your horse sounds lucky to have you. How about working without stirrups (or taking them right off your saddle) and picking up the book 101 jumping exercises? There are LOTS of things to do working on jumping, jumping position, and jumping skills with poles and different exercises without high jumps all the time.
                  Last edited by Come Shine; Apr. 18, 2010, 10:03 PM.


                  • #10
                    I'm not currently taking lessons, but in the past, I've been able to both lesson on and part-lease horses to jump around 2'6"-2'9". I was still getting solid at that level, but my instructors did say that when I was ready, I'd be able to do up to around 3' or 3'3" on those particular horses, but not higher due to their scope/age/whatever. One of them was this 23-y/o TB, who I did a hunter pace and a horse trial with at 2'6"ish, and took lessons on at 2'6"-2'9". If I'd been able to continue part-leasing him, I'd hoped to be ready to compete at Novice eventing and 3' equitation/hunters/jumpers at local schooling shows. She had some other students and her husband riding and jumping him as well, on days I wasn't riding him, but I believe she limited it to 3 days a week at most over fences, and mostly small jumps.

                    Since you own a horse already, I assume you want to take any other lessons with your own instructor if she has an appropriate horse. If she doesn't, you might ask her if there is anyone that she can refer you to for those specific needs - with her recommendation, another trainer may be more likely to consider letting you jump higher, or she may have a boarder who is willing to have their horse used in once/week lessons. I wouldn't just look around for the lessons first without talking to her, since I think that approach is stepping on toes. I agree that his age isn't necessarily a barrier to doing more jumping, but with his history, it sounds like you're right to be careful. Maybe jump more often, but keep it to 2' or even 18" except for once/week, or do ground poles/cavaletti work?
                    Stay me with coffee, comfort me with chocolate, for I am sick of love.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by imnotclever View Post
                      I need to work on my eye for distances (always seem to have an easier time with this on other horses then mine),
                      There are lots of exercises you can do with poles on the ground to improve your eye for distances. For instance, setting up a "nominal 6 stride" distance, and then riding it in 5, 6, or 7 strides.

                      roaching my back and letting my leg slip back.
                      Lots of trot work in 2 point, especially at the trot, with loose reins, so you are not using your hands AT ALL to help balance.

                      chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                      • #12
                        I am an adult rider with a busy family and TWO horses......One of my horses was a bit of a rescue and the other; well got him when young and he went through some health issues... I understand how you feel. I know my horses only have so many jumps to give, and like you - - I do not feel comfortable doing "too" much with them.. but I want to improve my jumping skills not only for me - - but for them too. I want to keep them forever.. My old horse was 40 when he passed and I had him since he was three.......

                        I do what Lucassb does and set up ground poles and it's great for working on my distances, pace, and my bad habits from when I was a kid - - not to look down and break over (like I'm jumping a 10' high jump)... it's only a pole....

                        I also took dressage lessons and that was amazing.... I have been riding for so many years and there is still so much to learn......

                        I have been learning not to grab w/ my knees and let my legs relax and sink into my heels... wraping my leg "around" the horse... old habits seem to never die...

                        And yes... I do *LOTS* of 2 point..
                        Live in the sunshine.
                        Swim in the sea.
                        Drink the wild air.


                        • #13
                          Poles on the ground
                          Riding without stirrups

                          are the keys to success.


                          • Original Poster

                            Thank you for all the very thoughtful replies.

                            Working with a course of poles seems like such a ridiculously simple, but perfect idea for us! I think it will be enough for horse to be mildly entertained and give me some issues of my own to work on.

                            I have my official COTH prescription: two point and no stirrups.

                            Thanks again everyone. I think these suggestions will really help me.