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.
You just have to see your distance...you don't have to like it.