05-18-2011, 04:24 PM
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What I tend to do to help horse and rider perfect form is gymnastics. Since your wanting to go up in height id say to set up 3-5 jumps in a varying line. One to four strides apart, make the majority your comfortable height. Lets say your jumping 2' great and want to try 2'6" and you set up 5 jumps in a line.Do it once at the 2' height or smaller so your horse knows what to expect. If he's never done gymnastics before practice them so he knows whats going on before doing any sort of height.Once he knows how to go through the grid set it up for yourself to work on height. Make the first jump a high xrail, like 1'9 in the center, and a stride later have a 2'3 vertical then two strides later a 2'6 vertical, then two strides later a 2' vertical and then a stride or two later a 2' or smaller jump. Get the idea? Make the jump in the middle your targeted, yet realistic! Height, and then the jumps before and after at a comfortable height for you. This helps because 1)your horse is naturally going to be rocking back more due to the gymnastic exercise therefore the change in height isnt going to catch him as off guard as it would if he just went up to a single fence. We don't want him not paying attention and knocking rails and potential irritating himself, or tripping and you losing your balance. And 2) because your doing this grid of numerous jumps, the majority of which are at a very comfortable height for you, so the goal height fence in the middle is going to come and go quickly while your focused on other aspects of the grid. I've found with most riders that if you set up a single fence at a higher height to start to get them used to it they will worry and stress all the way up to it. If its placed in the middle of a line of fences with very specific distances your busy focusing on everything else except height. After youve done that a few times and feel comfortable set up a typical jumper course and randomly make a few jumps higher. Now before I mentioned to be realistic, what I mean by that is, if for instance your comfortable jumping 2' fences and you want to work up to the 3'6 jumpers, don't go and put a fence at 3'6! The higher the fences, the more the horse has to use himself, therefore a typical horse can feel great over 2' but you stick a 3' fence in front of them and theyre going to have to rock back and launch more and its hard to stay with until your used to it! So make your realistic goal of height about 6" higher than what your comfortable at at that time. If your currently comfortable at 2'3 then make the goal 2'9, and so forth. Don't want to shake yourself loose in the saddle just to reach your highest goal too quickly!