Frustrated Vent/New Perspectives Wanted! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 02-06-2010, 06:21 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2008
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Frustrated Vent/New Perspectives Wanted!

Okay here's the scoop! I haven't been able to ride consistantly and I feel like if I look at the mistakes I was making before I can prevent/stop the bad traits before they start again...does that make sense? Do you think it will work? Also, I would like to know if I/ the horse has improved.
First, here's a little background/vent on why i haven't been riding:
So the month of December was a complete bum for me...I was super busy with school and I had two other girls ride the horse I lease. Both were home from college. When I finally had to time to ride during winter break, about two weeks later, I found out that Bravely has started to rear! To say the least I was very upset and worried. I worked with my three trainers and an adult who know the horse very well and we worked out a reason and plan. We, having ruled out ANY physical problems, have concluded that it was because he was ridden by girls much stronger then me. They were using draw reins and a strong bit - i was previously using the same things but i am not a strong and have very soft hands. With all of these variables he had no where to go but up. He has since only been ridden by an adult I trust and myself with loopy reins so he knows he can go other places other then up. I will not let draw reins on him and he is being ridden in a happy mouth/port. PLEASE DO NOT CRITIQUE, I know what went wrong and am working with adults who I trust to continue to move past this!
In January I rode for a few days when I went ice skating and sprained both my wrists. I had to take a week off because I had to wear brace things. About half way through that week I was taking a shower and I fainted. When I went to the doctor for a normal dr appointment that happened to be that day, the doctor was very worried and told me to get blood work done and have an EKG. When we got the results back I was told to go to pediatric cardiologist. Meanwhile i was told not even to "think about getting on top of a horse!" The quickest appointment I could schedule was about two weeks two weeks without riding. My appointment happened and the results came back that everything was fine! Thank goodness!
That was Tuesday - I have not been to school since then...why? Because I have a cold and can't stop coughing and my nose is SO congested! Ahhh! So I rode today because I couldn't stay home for a 5th day in a row!

So to say the least, these photos ARE NOT RECENT! I am hoping that if i can reacknowledge my faults and try to fix them while I start riding again. So here are the photos. They are going back in time so keep that in mind. When I started riding him last year he was very strong and fresh - you will see from his trot and his jump. The recent photos show him cantering the jumps - he can do the 3'6" but I am certainly not ready!
Photo 1-5 = most recent/same show
Photo 6-7 = same show
Photo 8 = show, warming up - this is the picture that best shows how I am riding him now. He gets to stick his head out and be a happy hunter!
Photo 9 -10 = One of our first shows
Attached Images
File Type: jpg TB1.jpg (42.8 KB, 212 views)
File Type: jpg TB2.jpg (73.5 KB, 211 views)
File Type: jpg TB3.jpg (65.4 KB, 209 views)
File Type: jpg TB4.jpg (96.4 KB, 215 views)
File Type: jpg TB5.jpg (44.5 KB, 212 views)
File Type: jpg TB6.jpg (89.7 KB, 213 views)
File Type: jpg TB7.jpg (59.1 KB, 207 views)
File Type: jpg TB8.jpg (79.2 KB, 210 views)
File Type: jpg TB10.jpg (67.3 KB, 205 views)
File Type: jpg TB11.jpg (69.5 KB, 209 views)
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post #2 of 10 Old 02-06-2010, 06:22 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2008
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Eeek! Sorry the pictures are so large!
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post #3 of 10 Old 02-06-2010, 07:39 PM
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Location: Connecticut
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Geez, you certainly have been through a lot lately. At least you were hurt and sick while the weather sucked? That's about the only silver lining I can give you.

As for the pics, that 2nd one looks fantastic. Your position is great, contact is right on and your horse is swinging freely along with his back up. Can't ask for a nicer photo. I'm guessing you're an effective rider on the flat. The jumping pics show some room for improvement. Your lower leg is futher back than it should be and your upper body is more forward than it needs to be. I would suggest working on keeping your lower leg more perpendicular to the ground. If you do a lot of trotting while in half seat, it will go along way toward strengthening your lower leg and keeping it in the right spot. I have less to offer on the upper body. I was always taught that my shoulders should always be centered over my knees no matter what, but form seems to depend on which discipline you show in. I love your horse. Seems like a very nice mover.

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
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post #4 of 10 Old 02-06-2010, 09:09 PM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: South Carolina
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I would have to agree. You look great on the flat but could use some improvement over fences. Your lower leg swings back and your release is very short. You also do look a little tense in the arm on your flat pictures. Is he a very strong and forward horse? It looks like you are always having to hold a little back. You make a great team though! Nice pics!
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post #5 of 10 Old 02-07-2010, 12:08 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for helping you guys! I have always been stronger in the flat and enjoy it more. Jumping is not as "natural" to me - I have always had to work harder...but it wouldn't be fun if there wasn't anything to work on!
I know that I jump for my horse, which results in me on his neck, and my leg behind me....should i focus on pushing my heel down more, as I approach the jump?
Canopach - Yes he is a very strong horse but he also requires A LOT of leg. He has a HUGE stride but in order to keep it collected I have to balance my leg and rein!
Thanks again!
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post #6 of 10 Old 02-07-2010, 05:34 PM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Eventing Country
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I absolutely love your horse in this picture:

I LOVE how he is tracking up, I love how he is rounded and reaching down for contact and how he is rounding his back.

Anyways - with your jumping form -

Fixing your lower leg, firstly, you need to realize that you have to be around your horse, not ontop. You are clearly more comfortable on the flat, and jumping is an issue, it is with me - but what I find helps the most is


When we focus on the fence, we stop focusing on our horse. We cannot jump the fence, that isn't our job, that is our horses job. When you stare at the fence, you start riding the fence and we cannot do that.

Learn to focus on your horse. Remember, jumping is dressage with speed bumps. So you wouldn't be riding the letters ahead of you, you'd be riding your horse to those letters. You allow those letters to come to you, instead of you racing to the letters *speaking dressage now* so why would it be any different when approaching a fence?

You cannot ride to the fence, you have to allow the fence to come to you.

Ride your horse, your partner, the 1100lb animal with a mind of it's own, that is under you. Remember him? lol. What I suggest is lunge line work, with no reins - works wonders and is an amazing tool to have. Lunge Line work with no reins, makes you focus on your body position to influence your horse, and makes you focus on your horses rhythm and body to influence your position.

Learn to ride your horses rhythm. Learn to remain over his center of gravity, and learn to remain with your horse and work together in unison.

GP Jumpers do this, so why can't we? Olympic Riders do this, so why can't we?

When you've achieved riding your horse on the flat with no reins, start incorporating fences - cavaletti's, xrails - and you would be surprised with how you change your form in the saddle, to remain with your horse.

Now that we worked on your mental state when riding and your primary focus - we can address your body.

1) Stop gripping with those knee's. Open them up, your knees are not supposed to be supporting you, your lower leg and heels are.

2) It is fine and dandy to shove your heels down, but why are you doing this? What is the purpose? It isn't about shoving your heels down, it is about allowing your bodies weight to flow and dispurse naturally into them. They are your anchor, your saving grace. But you cannot do this, if you are gripping your knees and blocking that flow of weight from happening.

Remember - every body part is like domino's, or a chain. Without one, the other cannot be effective.

3) You must be wrapped around your horse, not ontop of your horse. This comes with opening your knees and allowing your weight to flow into your heels.

Your legs must be at the girth. Absolutely must be. Not under you, not infront of you, but at your girth. Your toes should not surpass your girth, if your toes go past -they are too far ahead. Your toes should be just at the center of your girths width.

Your inner leg should be touching your horses side. Open your knee's up and wrap your lower leg around your horse, as though you are hugging him with them.

4) Activate your seat. Riding isn't leg into hands - it is seat into legs, hands come last - to fix your powerful horse, you must bring him down through your seat. That will help you with your tense upper body as well - do you take dressage lessons?

5) Ride your horses rhythm, not the fence. Sit, get your 3 points into the saddle, soften your lower back and ride his rhythm. Slow your seat, bring him down to you, lift him up with your upper body and your hands. Relax, breath out and allow the fence to come to you, not you to it.

Ride your horse.

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post #7 of 10 Old 02-07-2010, 08:58 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2008
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Thank you so much for adding input MIE! It really means a lot to me. I am going to absorb it and respond more tomorrow. Right now I have to keep plugging away at a research paper and my nighttime cold medicine is kicking in. :(
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post #8 of 10 Old 02-08-2010, 04:37 PM
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Ok well here..
You need to bring your shoulders back. That way you are not sitting so far forwards & can be un seated or fall off.. Plus you can cause the horse to be off balance by being to far forwards & cause them to be heavy on there forhand. You need to bring your arms up. That way your hands are not down in your lap like they are most of the time in these pictures. Also you dont want Piano hands you need you have your thumbs up. Your hands almost the whole time have been like your playing a piano. Alos need to bring your toes in. That dont have to point out to the side. You can grip your horse with out puting your does out.

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post #9 of 10 Old 02-09-2010, 06:42 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you Leo Jumps High! I definatly agree with what you said..its certianly what I hear in my lessons and what im working to improve on.

MIE: Once again thank you sooo very much for your critique. As always it made me think about how I ride in a different way. After reading your whole "speech" several times, the one major thing that jumps out at me is the knee comment. It makes such perfect gripping with my knee I am automatically blocking the rest of my body from functioning properly. I think that working on fixing my knees will allow me to really stretch down and wrap around him - like you said. He is a lazy but very strong horse and I am always struggling to keep my legs long and around him when I ask him to go forward...they tend to slip backwards - do you think these two things might correspond?
I attempted to ride on Saturday but he was off - he has a VERY tiny scratch under his heel but he has a tendency to be sensitive to the tinniest things. I have also been busy with catch up work because I missed so much school last week. I am hoping to ride tomorrow since I have a snow day. Next week I have winter break so I am hoping to have several lessons. Hopefully I can convince someone to video tape me because I would love it if you would look at them!
Lessons - My "main" trainer is a hunter/jumper coach who is great with dealing with horses but he's not the gentlest...when the whole rearing episodes were occurring I was not taking lessons with him or conferring with him about it, simply because I don't think his strategy would be the best. Other then that one problem, he is the best trainer I could ask for - he pushes me at the right moments and knows when to let me be. I have been riding with him for about 7 years. Actually, the only other "problem" I have with him is that he doesn't focus on flat work a lot.
Lisa is the dressage trainer at are barn and I dont have a single complaint about her. She is absolutely amazing and can always work wonders on a horse. She was the main person I conferred with when I was having problems and came up with "homework" to help us work together. She is amazing at explaining things and can always relate it back to how it will help me while im jumping. I really am hoping to take more lessons with her in the coming year. If i can get a video, it will probably be with her.
Alright, sorry for my novel...Thank you again!
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post #10 of 10 Old 02-14-2010, 09:42 AM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Ontario
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wow. I love that horse! And I agree that in the second picture you both look really amazing! I am not the most amazing jumper, since I have things to work on as well, but you look liek your are slightly to far ahead of the horse in some of the pics. You seem to have just have (not literally) thrown your body forwards which causes a slight loss of control of your lower legs. I have seen (and done) worse though! Great partnership between horse and rider though. And sorry about all that's happened to you!
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