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Eek! Need to Improve My Jump Position Drastically! Advice Needed ASAP!

This is a discussion on Eek! Need to Improve My Jump Position Drastically! Advice Needed ASAP! within the Jumping forums, part of the English Riding category

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        09-03-2012, 01:40 AM
      #31
    Foal
    Here's another option, probably in the long run cheaper then a coach - not as personal to your issues, but would probably be better then paying money to yours.... equestriancoach.com
         
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        09-05-2012, 09:27 AM
      #32
    Yearling
    Thanks. I will look into that.

    Here's a little update for everyone:

    I've been working on the flat a lot, trying to make sure that I'm using my leg and not pinching with my knees. Maura, I've been using the exercises that you recommended, and I have done ground poles, no hands, in my two point position.

    Also, I've been trail riding a lot lately, which seems to help. I rode for four hours bareback, which wasn't really intended but my friend and I got lost in the dark. I also did three hours in the saddle in which I really made sure that I was using my leg and not my knees.

    My thighs are sore, as are my calves a little bit. Does that mean that I'm using the correct muscles if they are sore? I'm proud of being sore, but I want to make sure the "right" things are sore.

    As for Rusty, I'm really just trying to condition him more. On the trails, I tried to maintain a working walk the entire time. We did some trotting in which I did extensions and collections and even shoulder-ins and shoulder-outs. We did some cantering and a little galloping in a meadow. He does tend to get heavy at a canter still, so I tried to half halt him to get his head up and his butt driving. He rides in a pelham, which helps so he cannot lean totally on the bit.

    Anyway, this seems like progress, right? :)
    heymckate likes this.
         
        09-05-2012, 09:36 AM
      #33
    Banned
    Yes, it does.

    Post some photos!
         
        09-06-2012, 10:28 PM
      #34
    Yearling
    Okay, actually I'm hoping to get a video that you guys can critique for me. This seems to be my only portal of trustworthy instruction. I'll try for next week as I won't be able to get a video on until Monday.

    Okay, fast forward to some questions that have come up.

    1. How do you move your arms with the horse's movement at the canter without moving your shoulders or your body. Struggling!

    2. My horse, Rusty, gets rather heavy at the canter still on the forehand. He likes to peanut roll his neck and lean on the bit. He doesn't usually do this at the trot, except he doesn't tuck his nose in at all then. I have him in a pelham and yet he still leans. He tracks up nicely in his gaits, so I know he is somewhat using his hind end. How do I get him to lift himself and not lean? What's the process?

    3. Rusty has problems picking up his right lead. I'll ask, and he always picks up his left one. I'll bring him to a trot, and he picks it up correctly the second time only. Also, if we're doing simple lead changes, he'll pick it up then. If I bring him to a walk and start all over, Rusty responds to my leg asking for a canter as a shoulder-out. And I'm fairly sure I have it way back there. How do I work through this?

    4. Could anyone formulate a conditioning plan for me? I can usually ride 4-5 times a week, and I'm really just looking to get me and Rusty into better shape. I'd like to event him someday, but right now, I just want to condition and finesse him.

    5. How do I get Rusty more responsive to leg pressure? We have trouble with going faster within a gait. I'll ask and he gives a small response (and I ask nice, then ask big), but then he'll immediately return to the last speed.

    Thanks guys :) You have no idea how much I appreciate this. I'll see what I can do about a video of my riding.
         
        09-07-2012, 05:53 AM
      #35
    Banned
    Okay, let me attempt a couple of these -

    1. How do you move your arms with the horse's movement at the canter without moving your shoulders or your body. Struggling!
    Use your elbows. "Soft hands" is a misnomer in some respects; what you need is soft elbows. Your entire hand and forearm needs to move forward and back in as straght line towards the bit, by opening and closing your elbow.

    If this problem occurs sitting the canter, but not in two or three point, it may be that you haven't mastered following seat in the canter, and your upper body is pumping to compensate.

    2. My horse, Rusty, gets rather heavy at the canter still on the forehand. He likes to peanut roll his neck and lean on the bit. He doesn't usually do this at the trot, except he doesn't tuck his nose in at all then. I have him in a pelham and yet he still leans. He tracks up nicely in his gaits, so I know he is somewhat using his hind end. How do I get him to lift himself and not lean? What's the process? Is he shod behind? And with what? With a horse that resists carrying himself behind, one of the first things I try is to give a little more security behind and see if that helps. My fav choice is what's called a rim shoe or a polo shoe. Is the pelham a fat, rubber, mullen mouth? You might be better off with a very thin mouthpiece. The pelham is considered "more bit" because of the leverage action of the shank, and the curb chain, not necessarily because of the mouthpiece. Do you use the curb rein when you ride in the pelham? And when he is heavy, do you shorten the curb rein while asking him to carry himself? Next, better overall fitness. Then, lots and lots and lots of transitions, and hill work if that's a possiblity where you are. Post a video and I may be able to give you more specific advice.

    3. Rusty has problems picking up his right lead. I'll ask, and he always picks up his left one. I'll bring him to a trot, and he picks it up correctly the second time only. Also, if we're doing simple lead changes, he'll pick it up then. If I bring him to a walk and start all over, Rusty responds to my leg asking for a canter as a shoulder-out. And I'm fairly sure I have it way back there. How do I work through this? Does he pick up both leads readily on the lunge line? Sorry to say that as you describe (difficulty with just the departure, not cantering in that direction)this is almost always a rider problem. There is most likely something in your position or in the way you're asking that's blocking the canter departure, something as simple as you ride a little heavy in your right stirrup/right seat bone or tend to look down going to the right. The other issue is insufficient respect for your leg aids/not forward off your let. More about that below.

    4. Could anyone formulate a conditioning plan for me? I can usually ride 4-5 times a week, and I'm really just looking to get me and Rusty into better shape. I'd like to event him someday, but right now, I just want to condition and finesse him. I'm going to let someone else tackle this one in depth. I usually conditioned show hunters by hacking out 1 - 2X a week and doing lots of long trot sets and some hill work; don't know if that's available to you. There's a limit to how much you can do in a ring, in a hunter frame, to condition.

    5. How do I get Rusty more responsive to leg pressure? We have trouble with going faster within a gait. I'll ask and he gives a small response (and I ask nice, then ask big), but then he'll immediately return to the last speed.
    Ask, tell, demand. Carry a stick. The ask must be the tiniest aid you can give, a whisper. The tell should be the biggest aid you would ever want to give inside a show ring in front of a judge, and the demand should be tell, cubed, OMG, the world is coming to an end, and the sequence should be RAPID. If the horse hasn't responded correctly within 3 - 4 strides, dramatic things should happen! And reverting back to the previous speed should provoke an immediate correction. Most people make the mistake of tiny, incremental differences between the ask, tell, demand and that doesn't give the horse the proper incentive to listen for the ask. For leg aids, the sequence should be ask = tiny squeeze with calf, tell = light tap with lower leg or nudge with heel, demand = stick, three times hard behind the leg or until the horse shoots forward. The biggest mistake riders make is failing to be 100% consistent with this, or failing to follow up 100% of the time. You can't ignore lack of response to your leg aid because you're cooling out, there's someone else in the ring, you've lost your stirrup, you're working on your position etc., etc., etc., and you can't ever revert to squeeze/squeeze/squeeze/nudge/nudge/nudge/tap/tap/tap/kick/kick/kick nagging. I like to ask the horse to walk out as I'm leaving the mounting block and get in to them right then if I don't get a forward response, tends to set the correct expectation.

    HTH.

         
        09-07-2012, 04:30 PM
      #36
    Yearling
    Maura,

    Rusty is currently not shod at all. The farrier says he's got really nice, hard feet. I have never heard of those types of shoes, lol, but I'll look them up!

    I ride Rusty in a mullen mouth pelham. He was best going when I only rode with a rein on the curb. But obviously, that's not the way you ride a pelham. If I tighten the curb, then yes, he does get lighter and will carry his head high. He's got this peanut roller thing going on, he always has due to previous training, and I'm afraid he'll always be that way. He's got a long neck attached a little too low, so I'm sure that's something to do with it.

    I'm going to see if I can get a video for you to look at this weekend at all of his gaits. I think that will help tremendously.

    Thanks, you've been absolutely amazing!
         
        09-08-2012, 09:04 PM
      #37
    Foal
    Excellent questions!
    1. How do you move your arms with the horse's movement at the canter without moving your shoulders or your body. Struggling!


    Here is an excerpt from my book Training Tree for Riders For-Riders , which speaks to this issue: Some riders develop the habit of pumping their shoulders at the canter. This feels secure to the rider because his seat remains stillóno bouncing! However, it is awkward for the horse, who must accommodate the riderís shifting weight and balance. It also prevents the rider from using his weight as an effective aid later on. In order to follow the horseís rocking movement in the canter, some part of the riderís body must also rock. The pumping rider incorrectly keeps his hips still and rocks the shoulders forward and backward.
    An unmounted exercise to correct this has the rider place both hands on a fence rail in front of him. This will help the rider to keep his shoulders still. Now he can practice the back-and-forth movement of the hips. In order to make this change, the center of movement will have to change from the shoulder to the hip (including the knee to the waist), and the center of stability must move from the hip to the shoulder. Once the rider has grasped this on the ground, he is ready to begin to reproduce the same feeling on the cantering horse.

    There also is an illustration to go with it, showing the exercise, which makes it more clear, but I canít post it here. :( The above comes after the description of how to ride the canter correctly, also with pictures and diagrams.


    2. My horse, Rusty, gets rather heavy at the canter still on the forehand. He likes to peanut roll his neck and lean on the bit. He doesn't usually do this at the trot, except he doesn't tuck his nose in at all then. I have him in a pelham and yet he still leans. He tracks up nicely in his gaits, so I know he is somewhat using his hind end. How do I get him to lift himself and not lean? What's the process?

    Transitions, transitions, transitions. Do you have dressage letters in your arena? If not, get some, they donít have to be fancy, even markers and notebook paper will do. A, C, F, K, E, B, H, and M. You can do a transition at every letter. Also, lots of schooling figures. I never do laps around the rail when I ride, instead I do diagonals and center lines and broken lines and serpentines and circles, etc. The more you change things up, the more engaged he will become and the more heíll have to look where heís going! Once youíve done this for a while it will become a habit for him to keep his head up and carry himself. If he begins to drop it again, or lean, just go back to transitions for a bit and itíll be back up again.

    One of the functions of the curb is to lower a horseís head (not just to bring the nose in), so that could be part of the problem. Personally, I wonít give lessons to a rider who is not using a dressage-legal bit. Iíve never met a horse that wonít go nicely in a snaffle of some sort when ridden correctly. Just something to think about.

    3. Rusty has problems picking up his right lead. I'll ask, and he always picks up his left one. I'll bring him to a trot, and he picks it up correctly the second time only. Also, if we're doing simple lead changes, he'll pick it up then. If I bring him to a walk and start all over, Rusty responds to my leg asking for a canter as a shoulder-out. And I'm fairly sure I have it way back there. How do I work through this?

    Since he does pick it up on the second try, your aids are probably pretty close to correct, but not exactly. Not a clear enough distinction for him to be sure which lead you want. Aids for right lead canter: outside leg back, outside hip back/inside hip forward, outside shoulder back (for some people it helps to look to the outside during the transition), soft inside rein to allow his inside (leading) leg to take a big step. Sit up tall (no leaning).

    A steady contact on the outside rein should prevent his shoulder from drifting out, and the inside leg should prevent his haunches drifting in. It sounds as though you are over-using the outside leg and that is making him crooked. Your leg doesnít push him forward into canter, so you donít need a lot of pressure. Instead, the energy should be there (if not, re-read Moiraís advice about carrying a stick), and your change in body position just tells him that you want him to send that energy forward in the 3-beat rhythm of canter instead of the 4-beat walk or 2-beat trot that he was in. So shift in your position as detailed above, and then a little squeeze as his outside hind leg swings forward, and the next step should be canter. If not, you have your stick!

    4. Could anyone formulate a conditioning plan for me? I can usually ride 4-5 times a week, and I'm really just looking to get me and Rusty into better shape. I'd like to event him someday, but right now, I just want to condition and finesse him.

    Get the finesse down first, and the conditioning will come! Before you start building lots of muscles on Rusty, you want to make sure you are building the right ones, yes? So you first need to learn to ride him *straight*, then you can do bodybuilding. If you start bodybuilding before he is straight, you may actually end up injuring him.

    5. How do I get Rusty more responsive to leg pressure? We have trouble with going faster within a gait. I'll ask and he gives a small response (and I ask nice, then ask big), but then he'll immediately return to the last speed.


    Heís probably not clear on what you want. In fact, Iím not clear on what you want. Do you mean a longer stride or a faster tempo? Because you aid for those differently. Or maybe you mean more energy/engagement? Rather than describe all the different ways you could ask for each of these, Iíll let you think about it and get back to me! You already have a few things to work on...
         
        09-08-2012, 09:28 PM
      #38
    Started
    Here's what I'd do, sorry I didn't read everything, but I'd set up my phone in the corner of the ring where you can see most and video - or better yet get someone to video.
    Stop every 5-10 minutes to watch. Rather than jumping I'd just set up ground poles all around the ring and pretend like they're jumps. Walk/trot/canter up to and over them and practice your own skills. Often times videoing yourself you can watch and see what you're doing wrong and what you need to work on. :)
         
        09-09-2012, 09:14 PM
      #39
    Banned
    Re: riding in the pelham. Make sure you're using it to teach to carry himself better, rather than just riding in a harsher bit.

    Here's what I mean - you should be picking up contact on the curb rein and riding him forward into it when you're asking him for a better quality gait and more push from behind and then dropping the contact on the curb rein and riding the snaffle and seeing how long he can maintain the more connected gait, then going back to contact with the curb as he gets strung out again. Repeating this sequence is what will teach him to carry himself better, there's no special "magic" in the bit.

    If there isn't the classic pressure/release or pressure/reward, he's just learning to lean and be heavy on a harsher bit.

    The other thing to watch out for is that horses ridden incorrectly in pelhams pretty quickly develp the habit of ducking behind them. Watch Rusty carefully for the curled up in front but traveling the exact same way syndrome.

    Money and resources permitting, consider a french or three ring snaffle, which is a also a leverage bit but minus the curb chain. You also can change the amount of leverage by choosing a different ring for the curb rein.

    If that's not an option, and you think he might be overreacting to the curb chain, replace the chain with a piece of leather or rubber to make the effect less severe.

    ETA: Amanda, the OP is riding in hunter shows, not dressage. So while I share some of your concerns about the bit, that it isn't dressage legal isn't really one of them.
         
        09-10-2012, 04:49 PM
      #40
    Foal
    I realize she is not riding dressage, the point was to give her a variety of bit choices, none of which involve leverage. If she rides correctly she won't need the leverage. Rather than list a slew of bits she could choose from, I simply referred to the dressage bits.
         

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