Getting that ground covering stride - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 04-21-2013, 04:48 PM Thread Starter
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Getting that ground covering stride

After several years of my jumping form being less than desirable, I'm finally getting my act together. As anyone who rides knows, this is now presenting a new problem. In the years I have been muddling around up there, my sweet TB has been happy to plod along at a tiny up/down pogo stick canter while I try to keep myself together. Part of it is his upright build. Not much range of motion in his shoulders and pasterns on the shorter side. Also, he's just plain gotten used to it since we've been doing it for so long.

Now that I can finally jump the bigger stuff, I need more pace and a bigger stride to get over the 2'6" fences. I need to get him to cover more ground. The pace I can get to some degree if I just get after him a little, but the stride is just plain short. Today we were doing a one stride over low verticals spaced 18' apart. Even cantering in, he was still not near the base of the second fence a single time. I am reluctant to put the fences further apart and try to force the issue and end up having him pull a muscle trying to make it work.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to teach him to lengthen his stride? I've done the two poles spaced 3.5 strides apart and switching between the 3 & 4 strides, but he really seems to struggle with it.

Also, with a horse that has a naturally short stride, would you sit deep between fences or stay in a lighter seat and drive with just your legs? I tried both today, and he seems to stay more free moving if I stay off his back. My instructor says I should be sitting, but I'm not a big fan of "shoulds" since every horse is different. My logic says, just get 3 in the 2's, 4 in the 3's, etc and make it work that way.

Any help would be appreciated.

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post #2 of 11 Old 04-21-2013, 04:58 PM
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Geez! Sounds like you're doing Trigonometry there. Jumping is too complicated for me.
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post #3 of 11 Old 04-21-2013, 04:59 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
Geez! Sounds like you're doing Trigonometry there. Jumping is too complicated for me.
I do like numbers, so this problem is really right down my alley. Just wish I could find the solution!

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post #4 of 11 Old 04-21-2013, 06:18 PM
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You need to sit up to drive the horse forward to help him get off his front end, and reach from behind.

I have the opposite problem with the horse I ride. She's not tall, but has a really long, flat stride that when she gets rolling is longer than the standard horse striding. We just had to figure out how to get her to respond to a change in stride. One exercise that help me a lot was doing a gallop down the long side, and then shortening it up into a small bouncy canter on the short sides, starting in the corner. Do it a few times until the horse starts to anticipate the change within the gait. Then switch it up a little. Just ask for the short bouncy stride on first corner of the short side, then when you get to the second corner, ask for a big stride until you get to the next corner. Then do a large canter (think hand gallop) down the long side, half way down ask for a small canter do a small circle back to the track, and ask for a large canter. Hope this helps!
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post #5 of 11 Old 04-21-2013, 07:35 PM
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My horse is 15.1 so naturally has a shorter than 12' stride. I have to sit up and push with my seat so she will lengthen her stride.
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post #6 of 11 Old 04-21-2013, 10:53 PM
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Caveletti work - not poles on the ground, actually caveletti. Go buy Dr. Reiner Klimke's book, and as well Ingrid has an article in Practical Horseman (or Dressage Today, I can't remember lol) this month about it as well.

Working with the caveletti, doing bounces in a full seat is going to help him to develop range of motion, and eventually a bigger stride.
I would do about 10 minutes of cav work every day. Start with one cav set up to height, and just canter over it (in a full seat - do not half seat). Then put two in a row as a bounce, start with them 10' apart. Work with two in a row for a while (about a week) then add a third (again, about a week) and then start spacing them 4" more apart every day. When he is in a full canter that you would expect on course, then get into a half seat. Using a full seat while just learning helps you to have control over his back - it helps your seat as well, and it helps him to learn that they are caveletti and not jumps. Even in the half seat, still have some contact between your seat and the saddle.

Good luck!
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post #7 of 11 Old 04-21-2013, 10:57 PM Thread Starter
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I do have that book Anebel. I never thought to use it for this application, but that makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the suggestion.

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post #8 of 11 Old 04-22-2013, 12:05 PM
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18' is really meant for 3'+ or higher fence (landing 3' from the 3' fence, same for take off, and 12' stride). 12' stride is ALREADY 'moving' on.

Can you go to two point and move on, or collect w/o fences? With two fences set further apart can you ask for more strides (connected/collecting)? what TEMPO do you use when jumping?
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post #9 of 11 Old 04-23-2013, 06:00 PM Thread Starter
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18' is my one stride combo distance. My horse's "normal" canter stride is less than 10'. Yes, we can adjust stride on the flat. The problem is his overall stride spectrum is just less than other horses. Instead of being able to go from a 12' to an 8' stride, our high end is more like 10' and he can practically canter on the spot when we shorten. It's great for when I bury him deep, but not so great for related distances. To achieve a 12' stride, he has to almost run flat to achieve it. It is mostly a conformational thing. I'm just trying to figure out how to work with what I've got and still be able to get comfortably around a course.
I think I'm ultimately dealing with a hind end engagement issue, so I'm going to try the cavaltti exercises and forget about math for awhile.

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post #10 of 11 Old 04-24-2013, 12:54 AM
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To encourage a horse to lenthen his stride at the trot in an arena, I apply inside lower leg as the horse raises his inside hind leg. I also keep the reins with light contact. That lengthens the step of the inside hind and outside fore. Initially, of course, but I've never had the other side fail to follow!

To lengthen the stride at a canter, with the horse on the left lead, I use right lower leg pressure as the right hind raises. Light contact on the reins.

If I'm working a horse that someone wants schooled in an arena, I do these changes in stride both ways at all gaits. If I'm working a horse in open country, I change the side I cue on and make sure I initiate from both sides throughout the day.

To me, timing my cues with what movement is happening in the hindquarters improves the outcome and the horses response.
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