Training for a better jump - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 54 Old 10-18-2013, 09:38 PM Thread Starter
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Training for a better jump

I have a 5 year old TB mare who I event. We have recently moved up to the novice level and she's been doing great. One thing I've noticed is that she doesn't square up her knees most of the time. She jumps with her legs underneath her body. It's not a problem now, but it looks like it could be a problem in the future. How should I fix this? Is it really a problem? She likes to get deep into the fence and I also have a bad habit of burrying her in the jump- could this cause our problem?

She also drops her right shoulder over most jumps. I just got my new jumping saddle last week and it actually fits. The old one was pinching her right shoulder and I thought that was causing the problem. She still drops that shoulder sometimes in the new saddle though. I thought it might be a strength problem, but I don't know how to correct it.

I will attach pictures of these problems...

Sunny knees 1.jpg
Sunny Knees 2.jpg
sunny knees 4.jpg
Sometimes she has square knees...
Sunny knees 3.jpg

I don't have many other pictures that I can post on this forum (they all have my friend's watermark), but here is the video from my last show:

And if you feel like sifting through this video, she is the chestnut:

The pictures were taken today with my new saddle and the videos are with the old saddle. How do I improve her jump (I think it's mostly going to be how I need to fix myself.) Thanks! :)
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post #2 of 54 Old 10-18-2013, 11:49 PM
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I believe lots of gridwork and gymnastics should help improve her form. You can also add ground lines or filler and roll them out a bit to get her to stretch.

Placing poles everywhere, but especially AFTER the jumps.

Square, wide oxers. Lots of them.

Ride her to a slightly longer (less deep) distance that will encourage her to stop jumping over his shoulder and reach a little more.

One thing I've also used with some success were V poles.

I'd also add some cavaletti into her flatwork, especially at the trot. Start slow and build up.
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post #3 of 54 Old 10-19-2013, 12:17 AM
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Originally Posted by TheatricalAffair View Post
I believe lots of gridwork and gymnastics should help improve her form. You can also add ground lines or filler and roll them out a bit to get her to stretch.

Placing poles everywhere, but especially AFTER the jumps.

I completely agree. Gymnastics will challenge her to think fast with her legs and snap them up! Remember to build them up slowly so she isn't overfaced, but gymnastics will help her a lot!

And creating more of a spread will teach her that she doesn't have to take off too close, though in your video she doesn't appear to take ridiculously short distances so I wouldn't be too too worried about that for now, as her confidence increases she will become more confident in any distances that she comes to!
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post #4 of 54 Old 10-19-2013, 08:08 AM
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I have found that horses' ability -- or I should say -- horses' inclination' to lift their knees and fold their legs well over fences is mostly natural and not something that is easy to train them to do. I used to work horses in a 'free pen' that had solid jumps set up that horses could not circumvent. It helped some horses learn to lift their knees better and fold better, but most of them were either naturally good at this or never got very good at it.

I used to buy a lot of OTTBs and OTQHs to re-school for a new occupation. How natural they were in the free pen helped me determine what occupation I headed them toward. Some made really fantastic over-fence horses while others were positively unsafe. Some of the poorest prospects would drop a leg so badly that they would drop it behind a low jump. Frankly, I did not want to ride a horse that disinterested in lifting their front legs.

After I moved to Oklahoma in '79, I still worked a few OTTBs and a couple became high end hunters and one big time jumper went to Ohio. I did not build a free pen here because I was not planning on doing this on a large scale so I just longed horses over solid fences. That seemed to work the same way.

I have also seen horses that have been jumped over very small jumps for a very long time that have gotten really lazy and sloppy over fences (like lesson horses and horses bought by beginners). They really benefit from being put over big solid fences on a longe line or in a free pen.

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post #5 of 54 Old 10-19-2013, 01:19 PM
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I am the OP, but I somehow logged in as a different account when I posted this?
Anyways... thanks for the suggestions. I know that some horses just jump in their natural style, but there are times when she jumps really nicely, so I would like to get that a lot of the time.

I've heard ascending oxers were helpful, but do square oxers do the same thing? I will definitely be doing gymnastics this winter. Are there any special lines that you find really helpful? When we've set them up before it's been a cross rail, one stride vertical, one stride oxer, one stride vertical bounce vertical bounce vertical. We put a 9 ft placing pole in front of the first jump and I try to see my distance at the pole and then just keep her straight and get out of her way for the rest of the line- is that going to help?

I think I get her deep because I'm trying to see a distance, but should I just let her figure that out herself then? It usually ends in a really awkward jump with a major shoulder drop when she does it herself and it doesn't change no matter how many times we do it.

Does anyone think it's a strength thing? I try to not jump more than once a week and in the winter we might go for 2+ weeks without jumping, so anything I can do on the flat to fix this would be great. What excersizes do you suggest TheatricalAffair?


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post #6 of 54 Old 10-19-2013, 05:31 PM
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Well, she certainly can jump square as evidenced in that second pic. She is kinda hurling herself over it rather than using her hind end. Overall conditioning can help to some degree. More muscle is always good. I don't know how often you go out hacking, but it does wonders.

Gymnastics will accomplish 2 big things for her. and one big one for you. For her, it will teach her to go forward or back herself off from fences without any help from you to get a safe distance, and it will also get her to jump with impulsion from behind rather than speed. For you, it will take finding the distance out of the equation and get you trusting her to find better spots on her own while you just keep out of her way.

One big trick I found out with gymnastics is, you need something every 9', even if it is just a ground pole. I don't know how many other horses cheat, but if I set up a one stride at 18', and don't place a pole 9' to force him to just take one stride, he will add or subtract at will thereby defeating the exercise. Bounces and square oxers are your friend. Put them together and they are fantastic. The reason square oxers are good is, horses naturally back off them, so very little chance for the horse choosing a deep spot. A great exercise to start with is, bounce, two very low vertical or even ground poles 9' apart, then a one stride 18' to a square oxer. If your horse has a long canter stride, make it 19'. Set it up in the middle of your ring, either trot or canter in, and change direction after the oxer each time and come back around and repeat.

There are a zillion ways you can set up grids. All are fun and get your horse thinking. Just remember increments of 9' and you should be close on striding. Have fun!
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post #7 of 54 Old 10-19-2013, 09:45 PM
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Once the jumps move into the indoor I will be having a field day with these ideas (we had a crazy amount of rain damage to the outdoors)! Until then, can I just use ground poles 9' apart and have her canter through like a bounce? Does it give the same results?

I love hacking out, but Sunny unfortunately does not. She sees the wide open spaces as a place to re-live her track days. She's good in the woods, but crazy out in the fields and terrified of going on roads, so nothing I can do unless we trailer somewhere. I've tried everything, but all this horse likes to do is run...

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post #8 of 54 Old 10-19-2013, 11:13 PM
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Sure. poles on the ground would work for getting the horse to see the stride and learn how to lengthen or back off as necessary, but those square oxers are where you're going to get that front end tightened up. You don't need that much space. You could set up a simple one stride, vertical 19' to oxer, canter in and change direction each time.

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
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post #9 of 54 Old 10-24-2013, 04:24 PM
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Yesterday I set up groud poles 9' apart. I started with 3 and gradually added more until there was a line of 7. At first she rushed through the line of 7 poles and ran straight through the last few. This was when I was trying to get her in a collected, shortened canter before the first pole. I realized that wasn;t working, so I just focused on keeping the tempo the same up to the first pole and let her figure out everything else. I got a really nice, quiet ride through the line once each direction and then we were done.

Could I set up a jump 9' from the last pole? I think that would help if it wouldn't get in her way. Usually we use only one placing pole, but I think a line of them would give me less to control while still getting her to the right spot at the right speed in the right balance.

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post #10 of 54 Old 10-24-2013, 04:50 PM
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I think a lot of her problem comes from her running at the fences so she ends up a bit 'flat' and because she's also in deep so she has to sort of hurl herself forwards then lacks the energy and impulsion coming from behind seems to drop down on the other side too sharply.
Using grids will help her develop better muscle and using a series of ground poles will help you see a stride better - she needs that 'check' before the jump to collect and shorten to have more power to push through the air
This is UK eventer Piggy French giving a lesson and I think it would work for you because its asking the horse to jump from a slow collected pace which means it cant rely on speed to get it through the air but has to build up the muscle to do it and improve its mental ability to think about what its doing
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