Defensive riding vs interfering with your horse?!

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Defensive riding vs interfering with your horse?!

This is a discussion on Defensive riding vs interfering with your horse?! within the Eventing forums, part of the English Riding category
  • Defensive riding horse
  • Why do i ride so defensively

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    02-05-2012, 10:47 AM
Defensive riding vs interfering with your horse?!

I recently joined this site and I havent heard it here but I've seen other places where eventers tell each other that their position is fine when they are left behind or sitting down in the tack too soon over xc and stadium fences because they are eventers and being defensive means being in the back seat. Note that this is in scenarios where the horse is not trying to stop or refuse or has taken a horrible spot or anything. My question is where does the line get drawn between you are just flat out interfering with your horse by sitting on its back over a jump and you are riding defensively for safety? As an eventer and a show jumper this is something I've definitely been grappling with.
Thanks for your help!
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    02-05-2012, 10:56 AM
I feel that it's incredibly hard to truly judge defensive vs. interfering riding based on pictures alone, so I try not to make that definitive statement when given just pictures to look at. I feel that if a rider is sitting and heavy in the tack on the approach as well I would call that interference, whereas someone who is slightly more defensive may be closer to or sitting in the tack on the approach but not heavy in the saddle. Those who stick like glue to the saddle on the approach I feel have a lack of balance and finesse that you get with a balanced core and lighter seat. That's not to say you shouldnt sit on the approach, but you need to be doing it correctly.

Defensive riding is also very dependent on the horse, the ride you've had so far, and the type of jump you're approaching. I'm more apt to be slightly defensive at a type of fence I know my horse has had issues with in the past, however I would never want to interfere because that could easily make things much worse. It's all about giving your horse a confident and quiet ride, regardless of what level you ride or where you're competing. Interfering with your horse too much can only cause you and your horse problems.

I feel like I just gave you a very vague answer, but the truth is there's a different line between defensive riding and interfering for each separate horse and rider combination.
    02-05-2012, 11:11 AM
Let me clarify really quick, as I just read the last part and it sounds completely not what I was trying to say -- It's not that interfering is different for every horse and rider, but WHERE the rider feels the need to ride defensively will vary slightly.
    02-07-2012, 06:06 PM
Good question! I would agree it is something that is worked out on an individual horse/rider relationship. Some horses go along an XC course on auto-pilot while others need much managing. I would say the majority of horses change from day to day and require very adjustable riding. When my horse is going along well and he is committed to the fence, I feel more free to assume the position and go along for the ride. On a fence he is less certain about, I do try to stay in the back seat, but fold at the hips a bit more to still give him his head.

Those fences do get tricky. If your horse feels you get behind the motion, he might decide you're not on board with the jump and stop. Then again if you assume the position and stop riding, it will probably yield the same result of stopping but for a different reason. You stopped riding and dropped him.

Before I babble too much, my point is, it depends. It's definitely a fine line, but it's just something you have to experiment with to get into a good rhythm with your horse. When in doubt, I will always choose the more defensive position and stay closer to the tack.
    02-07-2012, 06:58 PM
I'm going to say that if you are going to assume a deep seat to a fence (and there are many good reasons to do so), you need it to be a driving seat supported by a leg at the appropriate time for the reasons MBP explains.

If it become a passive/stilling seat, you might be in for a tough ride.
    02-18-2012, 11:30 PM
So what I am wondering is, what if your horse DOES have a refusal or running out issue? I have been dealing with this on one of my guys, he is quite behind the leg. I ride upright and leg on to the jump in case of the stop, and I don't want to release his head too much because of the runout, so I end up in a defensive riding position. Any ideas?
    02-18-2012, 11:39 PM
Defensive riding in my book means just staying closer to the tack. I can give my horse his head over a fence and still be in the back seat.
    02-18-2012, 11:54 PM
Well I can't just give this particular horse his head. He would run out at the slightest give. He is a dirty bugger, he has even gotten my coach off a few times in a stop. I ride defensivly so I don't get hurt.
    02-19-2012, 01:10 AM
Great posts Strange :)

I don't think I know of many Eventing Mounts, who go around an XC Course on Auto Pilot. Maybe GAG.........but no Eventing Mount, should be going around on Auto about dangerous.

Defensive riding, to me, is being solid in your tack. Being able to take anything, without getting "loose". Deeper heels, longer legs, solid seat, solid leg, active core - able to take on any fence, any distance, any pace - while remaining solid.

Interfering, to me would be - interfering your horse from doing their job. Getting left behind, climbing up on their neck, jumping ahead - all the cardinal "sins" that many of us riders commit when jumping.

Yes, form = function, but I think there is a fine line between being functional and becoming obsessed with "equitation" to the point where you stop being functional, but posing and perching.

Getting left behind is going to happen, jumping ahead is going to happen, becoming unbalanced at times, is going to happen - but that's where having a great Equine Eventing Mount as your partner, is important. A horse who can think for themselves, a horse who can cover your patootie regardless of how much you interfere on a particular fence, to get the job done.
    02-19-2012, 03:25 AM

This is just my opinion, others may legitimately and correctly differ.

And I should mention that I come from a hunter background, and came to eventing and jumpers later in my career. So I tended to have a huntery release (see avatar) and I also tended to stay out of the tack in two-point unless there was a specific reason to take a deep seat such as jumping down hill, tight combination, horse peeking or looking.

I would not be riding the horse you describe XC, period.

If the horse has such a dirty stop that you don't feel you can release fully, I think you need to go back to cross rails and gymnastics and start over. Rather than riding in full on defensive mode, I would be setting up jumping lanes and kicking the horse through them on loose reins and then progress to doing the same over low single fences. I would punish mightily for stops, but then go back to two point, loose reins and kicking on.

My contract with the horse is - if I point you at the fence, you jump it. I'll do my best to get you there in the correct pace, balance and direction. Jumping the fence is your job, and I'll stay out of your way. But regardless of the conditions, if I point you at the fence, I expect you to go over.

The problem with less than honest horses and *habitual or constant* defensive riding is that the contract with the horse becomes - I'll point you at the fence, but you don't have to jump it unless my balance, contact and driving aids are perfect, and I'm holding you and supporting you carefully between my leg and hand. If I don't get it exactly right, you don't have to jump the fence.
Quixotic and ginofalltrades like this.

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