Hi guys! I was wondering if you guys could critique my 5 year old OTTB's jumping form. His trainer (the woman riding, please do not critique her) has just recently started him over jumps. I personally think he's looking good, but I do not have an experienced eye.
Background on horse. Off track for a year and half, I bought him a little over a month ago from Camelot FeedLot in NJ. I do not have any history on what he's done during his year and half since retiring, so it's been a guessing game. From his ground work, we can tell he was trained for western pleasure. He's enjoying learning to jump! His name is Avery.
He is really hanging his knees in the second photo. In the first photo he got in too close and popped over with uneven knees.
A horse showing this sort of lack of form over fences looks to me like two things. First for the jumps he is doing he has been brought along too fast.. So he has no idea how to get his body over the fence or how to find a spot to read take off from. There is a good chance he has a lot missing in his flat work training.
The second possibility is he lacks the conformation required for jumping.
I just re-read the Original Post. He has only been with you a MONTH.
Take this horse back to basics on the flat. For jumping stop what you are doing.. get him trotting caveletti and then put an "X" jump one stride from the end. Gradually build on this.. eventually putting a second jump 2 strides after the first jump. He has NO IDEA about jumping and is truly being asked to do way more than he is ready for at this point. He should not be jumping what he is being put over in these photos for at least 6 months to a year.
He needs to learn his flat work and he needs to learn how to find his "spot" using the caveletti and gymnastics. NOTHING higher than 18 inches at first. He has so much to learn.
He may never have great form over fences but back off and take him back to basics and low jumps and gymnastics over fences. He is being brought along way way WAY too fast.
Bringing him along too fast can result in a horse that has a wreck; strains something and becomes sore and from soreness starts to hate jumping; a horse that rushes fences; a horse that refuses fences; a horse that jumps in a manner dangerous to both rider and horse.... and a plethora of other issues.
Elana, I agree with you. I also think he's got so-so jumping form but like I've said, I'm learning how to judge conformation and technique. I'm also pretty partial (who isn't with their horse?) and think no matter how he looks, he looks great, but I wanted a 3rd party opinion.
Maybe I should give a little more background on Avery's training. I, again, agree with you, his training would appear to be pushed fast and to slow down. This past month and half has been figuring out what he knows and what we need to do to fill the gaps and reinforce on the flat. We have been working him on small "x"s and gymnastics at the most twice a week, and that started two weeks ago. He's mainly worked on his flat and jumping is only 1% of what she does with him. While working smaller jumps he knows what he's doing. We were curious if he knew how to jump bigger stuff. The oxer is the largest he's done with us and that was jumped only once. He also cantered the line and that appears to have been a first for him. Does that help?
I'm in line with Elana's thinking on this. I would not be jumping a single fence on a horse that I've only been working with over fences for a month, particularly one that's slow getting their forearm up.
I'd be doing lots of gymnastics and grids, most with trot poles in front to help set up the distance for the horse in a safe way. And I'd be doing low bounces and more complex gymnastics - trot poles to a crossrail, one stride to a vertical, two stride to an oxer, for example, to teach him to snap his front end.
I actually like the horse very much - he has a lovely attitude, and is rounding his back and using his head and neck, but he just doesn't know how to retract his landing gear. Single fences are not the way to teach that.
Besides keeping him doing grids and gymnastics of increasing complexity over the next couple of months, I would really be working on shortening and lengthening stride and developing clear, defined paces within the gaits, and working over a canter pole, teaching him to meet the pole in stride. As a transition to single fences from gymanastics, I would put placement rails on either side of the single fence, and practice that at a trot and canter.
And I wouldn't even be doing that until he was really snapping his front end consistently while doing gymnastics.
It's just too easy for a green horse to get into more trouble than they know how to get out of, then get scared and backed off.
Thanks maura for the training advice. It's greatly appreciated!
Yes to what Maura said. It was what I was alluding to.
I too love how he is trying so hard to use his body and be scopey. He may be good. In fact, he may be great (but not in these pictures! LOL).
He needs the chance. It takes time. Really mean it when I say a year. He is 5.. so if he is not doing a course of 2' jumps until next year that is fine. He may be able to do MORE and do MORE well.. so give him every chance.
You have the right attitude for this. You are clearly in love with your horse so spending time and taking time is not a chore (because you love spending time and taking time with your horse).
It is sort of a "be all you can be" thing for your horse. Help him be all he can be and he may be a heckuva horse.. but a diamond in the rough right now. The best polish for those diamonds is slow and methodical. :)
I'm not the hunter/jumper like those above, but my 2 cents are to work him hard, and then cross train with other activities to keep him fresh. Try teaching him to move a giant equiball and play soccer with him. Definitely, do some outdoor hacking, and teach him some close order drill techniques.
I am going to exercise one of my pet peeves for the moment -
Many people assume that single fences are easier than gymnastics, because gymnastics "look" complicated, and that the correct progression is single fences to gymnastics, when actually, the exact opposite is true.
Gymnastics are easier because you define the take off and landing spots for the horse with cavaletti or placement rails and set the horse up for success. The correct progression is lots and lots of gymnastices in increasing complexity, and then introduce lower, single fences gradually.
Now for part of my peeve that will not be popular - if you do not know HOW to set or adjust placement rails and gymnastics, you shouldn't be starting a horse over fences without a knowledgable ground person. I strongly suspect that some people start with single fences because they don't understand striding and how to set up a gymnastic, and that's a little scary.
PS - that was not directed to the OP, that's just a general observation.
Not impossible. Do your due diligence.
Begin by raking the arena smooth maybe, 25 feet. Get a steno pad and pencil(s), and a builder's length measuring tape, preferably 100 ft., but a shorter one will do in a pinch. Then ride walking your horse and measure the stride length. Tie him up or hand to a holder, rake again, trot and measure, rake again, canter and measure. Much like taking measurements for garment making. This is WORTH the time.
English Lesson: Positive Pole Work - YoungRider.com
17 Tips on How to Build a Show Jumping Gymnastic Exercise
Ground work first, riderless with a lungeline and horse is saddled, stirrups pulled.
Lunge over ground poles set the correct distances until your horse is bored with them. That means he's mastered using just the right amount of effort, which will translate to his jumping. Take from now until June for groundwork, 5x/week, and REALLY let him teach himself what to do with his body before your ride him over any jumps. George Morris has written that it isn't the height or the speed, it is in jumping in a straight line, which sometimes is not perpendicular, not interfering with the horse once committed to the jump and RIDING from one jump to the next with a plan. You can always practice a course with just poles on the ground, and you horse learns from it. BE creative.
IMO this horse could be a good hunter. He's just green.
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