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How do you approach jumps?

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  • How do you approach jumps?

    After 8 1/2 years, I'm just getting to the stage of riding where I am trying to get my horse off the forehand when he takes a jump. As an OTTB, being on the forehand is just natural for him, and he is VERY fast on the forehand. But, when I'm in the field and I try to collect him up a bit, he fights me with his head and we usually are worse off than if I'd left him alone. So, do you leave your horse to jump the way he wants, or do you force him to jump the way you want? Should I be doing this "collection" (in quotes for the dressage people) in the arena only until he's comfortable with it?
    Yes, I know how to spell. I'm using freespeling!

    freespeling

  • #2
    I think as long as he isn't dangerously on the forehand and dangerous over the jump, to let him jump how he wants and needs to. I was always taught to sit up and let the horse find his spot to the coops. I took a lot of babies over their first jumps in the hunt field with a longer rein, one hand on the breast collar and allowing them to jump to me and pick their spot. Don't put yourself in a bad situation trying to hold for a spot that may not be a good choice for your horses ability.
    www.thetexasequestrian.com

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    • #3
      If you did enough of the dressage thing in the ring your horse would not be on the forehand, but using his back end to power himself over the jumps as a matter of course. He should be schooled well enough that all you need do is sit back a bit to get him balanced. It's not a case of forcing him to do anything, but he has to be properly balanced when riding him at all times. That's what makes a dream field hunter. There's nothing worse, in the field, than having to ride a horse that is constantly trying to pitch you down his neck.
      ... _. ._ .._. .._

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      • #4
        I agree with Equibrit. Dressage schooling for strength and balance is essential.

        To answer your question about approaching jumps: it generally goes better if the horse is balanced up and in tune with your half halts. My horse won't jump unless she's balanced and ready......took me a while to figure that one out. :P

        If you feel safe, keep jumping but I would work on strengthening and balancing exercises on the off days. I'll be you see an improvement in technique over time.
        http://www.foxhuntingfriesian.blogspot.com
        http://www.isherwoodstudios.blogspot.com

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        • #5
          I suspect that you definition of "collecting up" involves too much hand. What you want is a re balancing, and that comes from a half halt, which involves your body, not your hand.

          Some time with a good flat work instructor will teach you how to re balance without his fighting you. Most horses do get upset if someone interferes with the use of their head and neck, especially out hunting, where they need them for balance.
          Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

          Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

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          • #6
            I have had a lot of luck teaching a half halt with the seat instead of the hand with forward horses that resent too strong of hand. Be very careful about how much you use your hands, as this will often make them do exactly what you don't want them to do.

            The half halt with the seat and leg is best described in the book Riding Logic by Wilhem Müseler. I think of it almost as if you sit really deep and halt the movement of your pelvis for the briefest of moments while your legs close slightly on the horse, then release. Once the horse understands what you want they drive up under themselves with their hind legs better (what you want). You can also alternate between seat and hand half halts.

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            • #7
              sterling 2000 "The half halt with the seat and leg is best described in the book Riding Logic by Wilhem Müseler. I think of it almost as if you sit really deep and halt the movement of your pelvis for the briefest of moments while your legs close slightly on the horse, then release. Once the horse understands what you want they drive up under themselves with their hind legs better (what you want). You can also alternate between seat and hand half halts."

              An instructor with an educated horse who will tolerate fumbling attempts is the best teacher.
              Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

              Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

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              • #8
                Since we jump wire here, the last thing we want is a horse fighting in front of a fence. Therefore in your situation I would try to find a happy medium, as in quietly "suggesting" the horse travels into his fence more like you'd want him to, but not really demanding it. Keep the stronger "suggestions" for training days when nothing bad will come of the horse arguing the point with you, then slowly but surely his approach to fences out hunting will improve.

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                • #9
                  I don't let my horse go to the jump if he is dragging me around on the forehand. He is also an OTTB and had a tendency for a long time to lean on my hands and take off when he saw a jump, and got even worse after the jump.

                  He doesn't need to be "collected" - collection and using the hindquarters are not the same thing - yes you need to hindquarters engaged in order to achieve collection but no, just because your horse is using his hindquarters does not mean he is collected.

                  Here is a chart that may help you understand what I am trying to explain...
                  http://www.dressage-academy.com/imag...ng-pyramid.jpg

                  When I approach the jump I want my horse to be round, and using his hind end and lifting his back, because this will allow him to jump in the best form thus most likely to clear the jump and not hit a rail (I do jumpers).

                  Some people don't believe a horse should jump until he is very solid on the flat and already knows how to travel correctly... of course not everyone wants to do it this way. If he is dragging you to the jumps (which is what it sounds like from the way you described it, correct me if I'm wrong) the first thing you want to do is get him to RELAX. He needs to be able to jump calmly before he can concentrate on the way he will jump. Sometimes this takes a while with OTTBs, you might need to change the subject, or do flat work/patterns between jumps. When he can jump calmly and keep a consistent rhythm, then you can work on getting him to round and travel and jump correctly. But if you expect him to go (reasonably) slow, keep a rhythmic pace, AND jump round all at once, you are setting you (and the horse) up for frustration. Take 1 step at a time and you both will be more successful.

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                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Some very good advice here, thanks!

                    Leslie, I realize getting off the forehand isn't true collection, which is why I put quotes around it. I don't know any short-hand term for it tho. (Although someone mentioned "rebalancing".)

                    He's not really dragging me into the jumps, it's just that first field takes jumps fast, and as far as I can tell, on the forehand unless the field leader decides to rebalance. The horses that *do* get rebalanced usually go at the rear of the field so as not to block others. I've been riding at the front this season.
                    Yes, I know how to spell. I'm using freespeling!

                    freespeling

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                    • #11
                      A (ot)tb is not naturally on the forehand, esp when jumping. They are either allowed to be out of balance by the rider, or they are no.

                      Horses only fight with the hand when the rider holds the horse steadily or out of balance. They need freedom to jump. The rebalancing/slowing/hh come long before a jump in choosing the tempo. But it starts back with trotting caveletti, keeping a light connection with the mouth, riding the horse in balance in the first place (not just when hunting). After 8 years a horse will tend to resist change in the rider, he is used to one behavior being allowed.

                      I do not just leave a horse to jump any old way. But schooling occurs on the flat, over fences/caveletti outside the hunt field.

                      Do you take lessons outside of hunting?
                      I.D.E.A. yoda

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                      • #12
                        With my eyes shut and a handful of mane


                        I have no suggestions, sorry, but I have a slightly downhill horse too. He does seem to jump best left up to his own devices. I make sure we’re going to arrive straight with a decent pace to the fence but he sorts out the striding*. If he gets really flat and running or it’s a horrible approach I will half halt a good distance out where possible (preferably 6 strides or so). I think to myself “sit up, leg on, wait” at every fence, but try to leave the reins alone. I had some very good instruction on riding with better body control and this made a world of difference (though g*d knows I’m still pretty rubbish).

                        If I get handy with the reins it all turns to custard.

                        If I’m really worried that he’ll flatten, like a steep downhill followed by a upright fence two strides later, I will trot or even walk at the very end of the hill, he can canter the last two strides and pop with a free-ish rein. He’ll pop 1.10m like that no problem (which is when I have a huge handful of mane and my eyes shut). Luckily in my hunt people are pretty polite about following distance so there’s time for a quick change like this.

                        *Disclaimer – this is a horse who will jump out of his paddock for fun. Even electric tape set at 1.45m won’t stop him if he wants to go. When he ‘free jumps’ he balances himself and does it with beautiful form. So while he is downhill he has a good jump.

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                        • #13
                          Practice lots of gymnastics to teach your horse to balance himself.
                          Bounces, one strides, etc so that it becomes more "natural" for him to jump properly.
                          "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Gentle and meant to be constructive etiquette note- jumping when out hunting is not about 'you.' It's about staying together as a field and staying with hounds. It's not the place to school- just let the horse get on to the jump and get over it and you'll find that when he's allowed to do his job, he will be more receptive to your 'suggestions' as Otterhound so nicely phrased it. Your focus when hunting should be making sure you aren't crowding the horse in front of you- it's known as 'room to fall,' if that rider happens to buy real estate you have time to pull your horse up. If you need to add more space, that's where those half halts come in handy.

                            And of course, if your horse refuses to jump- you quickly pull out of the way and go to the end of the line to try again.

                            Mostly it could be you're overthinking things, though maybe not and it's just that you are trying to be clear in posting your scenario. Big picture- hunting is fun. For you and your horse.

                            If your hunt or a landowner in hunt country would provide the opportunity, going out and schooling with others on a non-hunting day might be helpful.

                            I'll also observe that I have seen way more ugly things over fences out hunting when the rider overrides, than when the rider lets the horse think for itself and adjust. As the saying goes- throw your heart over the fence, and the horse will follow.

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                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Beverly, I always, always, always overthink. You can take that as a given.
                              Yes, I know how to spell. I'm using freespeling!

                              freespeling

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                              • #16
                                Aha. Well, enjoy more, think less! If I were your instructor, I'd give you this homework: set up some low- 18 inches to 2'6", your choice, combinations, starting with a basic one stride in-and-out set at a trotting distance. Set it at the correct distance first, do that on as loose a rein as you can and still maintain steering (don't worry about brakes), and as you trot circles doing that combination, belt out- yes, aloud, not just humming to yourself, reach the back row at the Met!- the song of your choice- my instructor used to make us sing 'Dixie,' but I find Yellow Submarine to have the cadence I want. You can't sing and overthink/override at the same time. As the exercise progresses- reset those jumps so that they are at slightly awkward distances- too close, too far, doesn't matter, change it up from day to day. More singing and trotting through the combo. If, at 18 inches, your horse were to quit because the distance just isn't perfect- you can still ride forward and make him step over. The point of the exercise is to empower your horse to adjust his own stride and (end result) jump any hunting fence in a relaxed and confident manner. Keep singing when practicing at home and let your horse do the thinking. Use some two stride combos too, then get fancy and do a one stride/two stride and vice versa. After you have done A LOT OF trotting, set 'em up for canter distances. But I wouldn't recommend singing when out hunting, I would bet your buddies would rather listen to the hounds.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Beverley View Post
                                  Gentle and meant to be constructive etiquette note- jumping when out hunting is not about 'you.' It's about staying together as a field and staying with hounds. It's not the place to school- just let the horse get on to the jump and get over it and you'll find that when he's allowed to do his job, he will be more receptive to your 'suggestions' as Otterhound so nicely phrased it. Your focus when hunting should be making sure you aren't crowding the horse in front of you- it's known as 'room to fall,' if that rider happens to buy real estate you have time to pull your horse up. If you need to add more space, that's where those half halts come in handy.

                                  And of course, if your horse refuses to jump- you quickly pull out of the way and go to the end of the line to try again.

                                  Mostly it could be you're overthinking things, though maybe not and it's just that you are trying to be clear in posting your scenario. Big picture- hunting is fun. For you and your horse.

                                  If your hunt or a landowner in hunt country would provide the opportunity, going out and schooling with others on a non-hunting day might be helpful.

                                  I'll also observe that I have seen way more ugly things over fences out hunting when the rider overrides, than when the rider lets the horse think for itself and adjust. As the saying goes- throw your heart over the fence, and the horse will follow.
                                  Well said as always.

                                  “over thinking” seems to be what I always run into when show riders ask to ride/school our field hunters and Timber horses. Pretty much the same thing when I was teaching skiing especially with upper level and or wanabe upper level skiers.
                                  There was an article in COTH a year or so ago title something like, Outside the ring. It went into how many rider these days have a lot of hesitation taking their horse out for a hack in the wide open spaces. I was a bit dumbfounded being I always thought this is something that everyone did as much as possible. Good for the horse, good for the rider and just plan fun. I guess I am showing my age.
                                  Folks, IMO Fox Hunting is not that complicated yes there seems to be a lot of rules and regs. But in the end all one has to do is be conscious of one’s abilities, both horse and riding skills and the cause and effect of their actions if poor choices are made. Those that are will be cut a lot of slack. Those that aren’t will get the evil eye and or a reprimand.
                                  As Beverly said get out and about in hunt country. Put in the miles as much as possible. As a land owner in Cheshire hunt country I have no problem with people utilizing what we have to offer. We are blessed with what we have and love to share it with others when asked.
                                  When I am out on a new horse any horse I pick my spots. I know who is on a steady eddy with years under their belts and fall in behind them. I have found that all horses by and large pretty much jump behind a good lead. There is no shame if your horse refuses a lot do at times knowing how to deal with the situation quickly is what it is all about.
                                  That’s the long of it.
                                  The short, I posed the OP’s question to my wife a life long fox hunter; Point and Shoot is all she said. I totally agree and we don’t agree on a lot of things horse.
                                  The rule in any sport is always the same, take/play the game, skills you have with you that day. Think about practicing/schooling on off days.
                                  As always to each their own.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Equibrit View Post
                                    If you did enough of the dressage thing in the ring your horse would not be on the forehand, but using his back end to power himself over the jumps as a matter of course. He should be schooled well enough that all you need do is sit back a bit to get him balanced. It's not a case of forcing him to do anything, but he has to be properly balanced when riding him at all times. That's what makes a dream field hunter. There's nothing worse, in the field, than having to ride a horse that is constantly trying to pitch you down his neck.
                                    This. We have worked all year to change my horse's natural way of going on the forehand to that of powering from behind and making him light on the forehand, especially with jumping in mind. To that end, he was/is schooled constantly dressage and getting his topline and balance better. A horse on the forehand is off balance, and can fall or trip and can also injure soft tissue easily. Bending on the longe, using his back, and dressage and strengthening his stifles are a must. Good luck. You can change his way of going, but you are going to have to train him.

                                    When he is lighter in front on the flat, he will start using himself correctly jumping. i agree, riding a front heavy horse over fences is an accident waiting to happen. I know I wouldn't enjoy it.
                                    My warmbloods have actually drunk mulled wine in the past. Not today though. A drunk warmblood is a surly warmblood. - WildandWickedWarmbloods

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                                    • #19
                                      The vast majority of riders
                                      Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

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                                      • #20
                                        The vast majority of riders I've met while hunting on three continents have probably rarely been in a dressage arena, yet their horses go sweetly for them and slip along nicely.

                                        Schooling on the flat is always a good thing, (and Museler's book is my go-to text as I find I understand his logic) but it goes out the window in the excitement of the hunt. Cavaletti and grids will teach a horse to be handy, x-country schooling over solid jumps, etc., but at the end of the day it is the hunt field that the horse has to learn and there is no substitute.

                                        Hound exercises get them fit and understanding the job, riding second field, and the rest takes care of itself - but for sure there is no benefit from fighting the face before a fence, the rebalancing should be done before that, and all horses can trot most hunt fences. It takes a while before they are ready for those honking big ones in Ireland.

                                        Jack le Geoff used to say he did not like event horses schooled above the (then) Medium levels because it took away a horse's ability to think for itself, and hunting teaches them to be self reliant, despite what the person on top is doing.

                                        There is no place for actual schooling in the field with horses coming along fast behind, the job is to follow hounds and cause as little a stir as possible.
                                        Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

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