06-30-2011, 08:17 PM
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Counting strides is a great tool, be it for beginners or pros.
In the hunter world, lines are set up to be taken in a certain amount of strides. So say you have a 6 stride, a 4 stride, and a 5 stride line in your course. If you take out or add strides, you will be marked down.
For jumpers and eventers, they are going to have combination fences and lines. They can add or take out as they wish, but will need to know what the line is set up for. If there is a tricky turn or a fence on the other side, they might want to collect and add. In another line, they might be able to make up time by pushing forward and leaving a stride out.
The count starts the first stride after the landing. Land..1..2..3..4..5..jump. Once the fifth stride has been complete, your horses legs come forward, as if to go for another stride, but use it as thrust to get over the fence.
Counting coming into single fences is also a great excercise to help begin to develop your jumping eye. Say that you are on your approach, and you start counting what you believe is 4 strides away. Turns out you were 5 or 3 strides. So you go again and start at 5 and get 4 and a half...then you should have woahed a little, or pressed forward for the 4. It really helps after a while and a lot of practise, because you learn when you need to wait instead of jumping ahead.