I guess I'll trust my lying eyes...the jump is set at the same level in each picture, just over halfway up the unpainted posts. If those are 4' posts, then it is set about 2'6". And that would match with the size of the people and horse.
Although the height of the jumps isnt THAT big of a deal, I also see a horse in pain. I would have a specialist look at him to see what is truly the problem. I've seen this come up a lot and I know you hate that, but you're in denial about the fact that something is CLEARLY off with him. Just because ONE vet say he's okay to jump does not mean you should. He has a very severe rosy back and I don't think he should be jumped for soundness reasons, although he does seem like a very honest and willing horse.
In regards to jump size - if that was truly a 3'6" jump on a 4' standard, that would leave only 6" between the pole & the top of the standard. There is much more space than that. It also does not look an entire foot taller than the jump next to it. I would guestimate the fence to be about 2'9", but no taller than 3'. The other jump really looks to be more about 2'3" (I even compared it to pics I have of myself doing a 2'3" course with my boy at a show, & they look the same height). I wouldn't be surprised if it was labelled incorrectly by whoever made it, that happens sometimes.
As others have said, it is very difficult to judge such short videos, especially when some of them cut out before a jump is completed. However, I did notice that his stride does not seem very consistent during his approaches, and he seems to be digging down onto his forehand in order to jump, instead of really rocking back and using his hindquarters to power himself over the fences. It would be really helpful if you could have a dressage mindset while you jump - keep him collected & consistent. A flatwork exercise that my trainer has me do with my boy (who is still a bit green) when he doesn't want to stay engaged in his hind end is to ask him to come round while I trot him at a steady but forward pace down the long side of the arena, then turn halfway down the short side & head back towards the long side that I just came down in a sort of half-circle, slowly straightening him out & leg-yielding him the rest of the way into the rail to complete the change of direction. Then repeat down each long side. I'm not sure if that makes sense how I explained it, but it really helps the horse to want to stay rocked back and engaged in his hind end, which in turn will help him give you a much better jump. Those long-jumps that he gave your friend in some of those videos are probably a result of him coming at them at a long, uneven pace & just kind of launching himself at the jumps. Rocking him back will help to fix that. It's also helpful to use your body to give him little half-halts (using a combination of thrusting your shoulders back to tell him to pay attention & rock back, plus a squeeze with your legs to keep him forward) through the turns and several strides before the jumps. Also, try to keep him in a consistent rhythm throughout your entire jump round (no matter if you're doing just one fence or a whole course) by counting a steady "one two, one two, one two" during your whole ride as he is cantering (or control his pace with your post if you are trotting him). If you feel him try to slow down or speed up at all, correct him so that he stays on pace. This will make it much easier to get the distances that you want, and he should give you jumps that are consistently nicer.
I mean I guess you guys can rant on and on about how his roach causes his pain, and how we're lying about the jump. I'm about to just quit horse forum because of you know it alls always trying to prove theirselves right. No where in this post did I ask for judgement on the jump and to get flamed by it. No where in this post did I ask about whether cowboy is in pain. I know about his roach. I know it's pretty bad. But look at other horses who have a roach and see how thier jumping. In my mind Cowboy's roach isn't that bad at all, but for all of you with those perfect horses it seems like a big deal. Have you guys ever heard about google images? Those horses have roaches the size of anatartica, and you're sitting here complaining about his little roach.
If his roach caused him any pain I would not jump him. I love that horse too much. Stop flaming me on his roach and how you swear it causes him pain. Have you ever met him in real life? No. Have you ever ridden him in real life? That's also a no, so stop saying you know he's in pain just by watching some videos.
All I wanted was some critique and if he would make an honest hunter pony or eventing type horse.
(and notice how he splays his hind legs out to steady himself--this is a defensive posture that speaks to pain higher-up in the body)
THIS is a minor roach.
You get mad and say we're all know-it-alls, and we have been through this time and time again. It seems like we're picking at you, but nope, we just have the welfare of the horse in mind. Your horse looks, stands, and moves like an animal in pain. Common sense and medical/physiological/veterinary knowledge would tell you that that horse is in pain. You've had one very brief and less-than-thorough veterinary exam, where your vet even acknowledged that your horse hurt, but you somehow think that this clears Cowboy, not just for riding, but for competition. It doesn't. You've got to stop being selfish and look at the best interests of the horse. These aren't just armchair jockeys talking to you; these are experienced horsepeople.
You say there are tons of other severely roach-backed horses jumping....where? Show me. Are they sound? I've never seen a horse as misshapen as Cowboy even be cleared by a vet for light riding, so the fact that you are even able to do that amazes me. Be happy with what you've got.
My horses aren't "perfect." Far from it. All have conformation flaws, some of which have caused soundness issues. I have to accept their limitations or risk hurting them worse. It's not worth that. Nothing is. So, out of my responsibility to mind the animal's welfare, I don't push them into physically demanding tasks.
And beyond the roach, someone else brought up a good point. This horse has a heart of gold, but he's not physically built to withstand the rigors of what you're asking him to do. He's bred to be a halter horse--in otherwise, he's supposed to stand still and look pretty. Halter horses these days, unfortunately, are not bred for athleticism, soundness, or longevity. Their legs just can't take much of a pounding.
Cowboy is a remarkable horse, no doubt, for tolerating so much. A horse with heart like that would die for its owner, were it asked. I implore you--don't take advantage.
The way I see it, you can't really make an adequate critique without taking in ALL factors...This means people critiquing your horses roach. TBH, I have never seen any roach backs quite as severe as Cowboy's. I agree with everything Bubba has posted. You might not have asked if Cowboy was in pain but you asked for a critique, and that's what the majority of people posting can see.
...No where in this post did I ask for judgement on the jump and to get flamed by it. No where in this post did I ask about whether cowboy is in pain...Stop flaming me on his roach and how you swear it causes him pain...All I wanted was some critique and if he would make an honest hunter pony or eventing type horse.
"if he would make an honest hunter pony or eventing type horse"
No. He seems to have a great attitude, but there isn't much sign he has a future in eventing.
As for flaming - you haven't been. If I were totally honest in expressing my opinion, I'd be suspended. But if you want an honest opinion from folks, you need to set them up to give you one. 3" clips & questionable heights don't make detailed and fully informed opinions possible.
However, based on the clips, lots of experienced people are saying it looks like your horse has a wonderful heart, but finds jumping painful.
Bubba13 wrote, " This horse has a heart of gold, but he's not physically built to withstand the rigors of what you're asking him to do...Cowboy is a remarkable horse, no doubt, for tolerating so much. A horse with heart like that would die for its owner, were it asked. I implore you--don't take advantage."
I agree. Maybe you do not. But if you ask the question, please do not complain when you get some answers you do not like.
You and your friends seem to have some natural ability. If you want to progress, you will need to listen to advice. That is true of everyone. We only improve when we take an honest look at our current ability, and listen to honest evaluations of what is needed to improve.
Sometimes with horses, you have to love them for what they are, not for what they can never be. You are asking Cowboy to be something he will never be, IMHO.
Lubylol, does he really need to jump? I'm sure he'd be a lovely gymkhana type horse (not sure the age/height limits in your area, but it's worth a try) or flat-class horse. You could do some english pleasure, w-t-c, lower level dressage, fun classes such as costume/relay races/team games, trail riding, parades, showmanship...the list these days is endless.
I know it's hard to have an animal who can't do what you want them to do. It's hard to come to terms with the fact that some things just shouldn't happen. But if you want Cowboy to stay sound (if he's even sound now) you really need to look at your options and choose something else for him to do. It's not the end of the world if he can't jump, be glad he can be ridden at all. But if you want to preserve him, you really need to just open your mind a little and listen to what we're trying to tell you. Take him to a specialist, or a chiropractor. They can tell you what damage is being done, and they can also help you make him feel better so that he can excell at another discipline.
He's a noble horse to of done so much for you, and he's truely one in a million. But don't take advantage of his body, just because his mind is willing. It sounds to all of us like he's trying to gently tell you that he's hurting, and even if he just keeps on keeping on, it doesn't mean everything is perfect. Some horses will do anything for their riders, and I think he's one of them. But ultimately, that almost always ends up in a permanently lame, or, in some cases....dead, horses.
It's kind of like those stories about dogs that you hear from time to time. About how, when both the person and the dog is in jeprody, even if they're injured, or it will cause them pain (such as running into a burning house or dragging a hurt owner to safety) they'll just do it, without another thought as to what will happen to them, or whether or not it's safe.
Cowboy probably feels like when you're riding him up to a jump, you're asking him to keep you safe. And he does. Again, and again, and again, because he feels like he's helping or protecting you. Horses are herd oriented animals, and if he feels like you're a member of his herd, he's going to do anything to please you and keep you safe.
Do you really want to be asking him to do something, if there's even a chance that it's hurting him?
It's your horse, and it's your choice- I get that. But don't overlook what we're all saying. There is a reason that everyone is in agreement. There's something there, whether it's his back, or his legs, or his feet- that's just not right.
It's kind of like, when you see an elderly person walk into, say, a store. And he's bent over, with a hand gingerly placed over his lower back, and taking tentative, measured step. You don't have to know him personally, or have even met him before. You just know that he hurts. Somewhere. You don't know if it's artheritis, or scoliosis, or ostioporosis, but you know his back hurts. While at the same time, his grandchildren, who are with him all of the time, and are used to seeing the way he walks around- wouldn't even think twice about the way he moves. To them it's just 'oh, grandpa has always been that way' because he has. Atleast, since they've known him anyways. And they can't really tell if he's getting worse or not, because they're with him all of the time. Lots of grandmas and grandpas walk like that, so it must be normal. But it's not normal. And it takes a stranger to point that out.
Do you understand what I'm trying to say? I'm not trying to push you on the ground and stomp on you...I've done some pretty stupid stuff with horses in the time I've worked with them. It's easy to overlook something that you're used to seeing, and it's easy to just pull up your guard and not let anyone break through to you about what's going on.
Whether we're doing it tactfully or not (and honestly, I do think that everyone is doing a beautiful job at remaining helpful and not harsh or sarcastic) we ARE trying to help you and cowboy both. No one likes to see a good horse go because of mishandling, or because of problems that could of been corrected early on. I'll even venture to say that a lot of people HAVE been the victims of this, and don't want to see you fall into the same hole. We're talking from experience, not bad will.
Just, try to hear us out. For the sake of your horse, if no one else.