Tips on jumping a course?
I'm going to be competing in my first show in a few months time, and I have a few queries about jumping a course.
At the moment, I'm riding a jumping schoolmaster, a lovely little 14.2hh experienced mare who'll take me around a whole course quite happily, automatically picks up the correct canter lead, and almost never refuses/runs out.
But because she's getting older, and I'm getting to about the highest jumps she's allowed to do now in her old age (1.5-2 feet), I won't be riding her in the competition.
I'll be riding a 15.3hh dapple grey Quarab/TB gelding, who's a LITTLE bit green, and the arab in him makes him a little hot. Perfectly fine for dressage and general flatwork, but I don't quite trust him yet to take me around a show jumping course and not end up "eating dirt"!
Here are my questions:
1. How do you pick up the correct canter lead after a jump? He's not trained to do flying changes and I have trouble sitting them sometimes, and I don't want to have to go down to trot and THEN ask for the correct canter lead, 'cause you have to go around the course at the same gait the entire time.
2. What the heck is with all this counting strides business? I've always been told to count the strides aloud as I go, but I'm confused about WHY? :oops:
3. How do you know when you're supposed to shorten or lengthen between a fence? I guess this relates to the counting strides issue, but I can't seem to get it. lol
Any and all information you guys have would be appreciated! :D
So, it isn't the horses fault when the horse refuses, or runs out, or you end up pulling a super man and eatting dirt - you have to realize that it is due to rider error and something you did while in the saddle on approach to the fence, that 99% of it is yours.
You have to see that in order to progress forward and mature as a rider.
Don't take me the wrong way, I only say this because I care about your wellbeing and education - if I were your coach, these are things I woud be working on with you whenever you ride with me, so that when you are prepared educationally and physically to enter that show ring, you are at the best of your best at that point in time.
Good luck! Everybody learns and you have to start somwhere!
Thanks for your feedback, MIEventer. I am learning all of this with my instructor, but I just figured that I could use all the help I could get.
Cheers, wild_spot. I've learnt how to do flying changes on the schoolmasters, but I'm not sure he knows the cues just yet. Do you get eliminated if you have to do a simple change in a competition? I was told that you HAD to stick to the same gait around the entire course, or was that only if you cantered one half and trotted the next???
Dark Equine if you have a few months before your first show you have time to teach this horse flying changes. Talk to your instructor about it. My horse was supposed to be "started" on flying changes but since I wasn't doign courses with her I really didn't make it a priority so after having her for about a year we decided to do a course and figured we would just work on flying changes too. Well she actually got the flying changes first day with some exaggerated cues. (Basically "re asking" for the canter while she is already cantering but asking for the opposite lead.)
Honestly though for your very first show I would start out small. While I think its great you are challenging yourself with the newer mount why not take the schoolmaster pony to the show and just do a trot crossrail class for your first one? Even if you are seemingly well beyond that it really can't hurt. Those classes are for the purpose of getting used to the show ring etc. Maybe the show you are going to doesn't have that but I think it is better to go out and have a positive first experience than stress out.
Just a suggestion and good luck.
P.S. normally you do stick to one gait but if you can't get the flying change better to do a simple change as was stated. Some classes actually have the requirement to slow to a trot for a jump or two, but that is not the norm.
Do you have access to an online showbill before the show? Looking at that with your instructor could help you learn about each class, etc.
1. How do you pick up the correct canter lead after a jump?
Technically if your horse is straight and well balanced he will land on the correct lead. Not all riders have the knowledge/experience to get their horses to do that. And not all horses have been ridden correctly enough or supple/balanced enough to land on the correct lead. Unfortunately I think all you can do at this point is keep your horse straight and be as still with your body as you can and hope for the best. I don't know what style of riding you're competing in or if the rules are the same in Aus. as they are in the US. In hunter ring in the US breaking gait down to a trot is a significant mistake, automatically drops your score from a 100 down to a 50. It's better to do a balanced counter-canter rather then to do a simple change if your horse can't do a flying change. You need to ask your trainer what she thinks is best for you and your horse.
2. What the heck is with all this counting strides business?
The course designer did not just throw a bunch of jumps together in an order, there is a science to it! There is a certain way the course is supposed to be jumped. For a hunter course there is a certain speed that is most "ideal" and you get counted off if you are too slow or too fast or if your horse doesn't have the correct length of stride. The average horse's stride is supposed to be 12 ft. You allow 6 feet in front of a jump for the horse's take of point and 6 feet after the jump for the horse's landing. So if you have a line with 72 feet, you know that there are supposed to be 5 strides in between. If you're getting a 7? Your pace is too slow or your stride is too short. If you get a 4 (HUGE no no) you're going to fast.
This info is crucial in the jumper ring so you know how to ride inbetween the fences. If between jump 5 and 6 there are 74 feet and inbetween jump 6 and 7 there are 70 feet? Inbetween 5 and 6 you'll have to lengthen your horse's stride for a big 5 strides, immediately woah upon landing so you can get a short 5 strides to jump 7. Truly "riding" a course (as opposed to just being a passenger) is about knowing how the course rides and what you have to do to set up your horse for a successful jump. Also remember that not every horse's natural stride is 12 feet. I personally think that's kind of long for the average horse. But you can work with a horse to lengthen or shorten their stride as needed. And at our schooling shows we purposely have the lines ride off an 11 foot stride as most older schooling horses don't have the length of stride to make it down at 12 foot stride.
3. How do you know when you're supposed to shorten or lengthen between a fence?
Kind of answered the question above but there are a lot of factors that affect your horse's stride. Not every show will take the time to measure the lines correctly. I've been to shows where they've been off a foot or two on certain lines. So when I'm schooling you can remember, this line rides a little short, this line rides perfectly, etc. If you go down a line and you chip in to the second jump? you need to change your horse's stride, probably woah. if you need to leave long to the second one (or keep adding another stride) you need to land and lengthen your stride. Also, some lines that ride away from the gate will ride short if your horse sucks back in the corner past the gate. Or speeds up going towards the gate so you need to shorten. Also footing is different. A ring that has been freshy worked at the beginning of the day will ride shorter then at the end of the day when a million of horses have jumped the course (deeper footing is harder for your horse to move out of so the lines will ride longer) The key is really knowing how to find your distance to the jumps. When you have a more accurate eye for a distance you'll know when to change your horse's stride. Ideally, you want get your horse on the correct pace/length of stride and just keep them consistently on it through the course.
Hope this isn't information overload! A lot of it will just come to you with time and experience. Let me know if you want me to clarify anything. But as MIE mentioned above, these are things that your trainer needs to explain to you as you're riding so they'll make the most sense!
well said upnover
lovemyponies: that sounds like a good idea. the show's in Dec. I'll talk to my instructor about teaching Sterling flying changes. I don't think the show has trotting pole/small crossrail classes, but I am going to be taking the schoolmaster (and eventually Sterling) to a few show jumping clinics with a professional jumping coach, where I'll be jumping 8-9 fences in a row, in a "kind of" show environmnent. i.e. 15-20 riders, spectators etc.
upnover: thanks! I understood all that perfectly. These are my main bug bears at the moment, but I have a few months before the show, so I have time to work on these before then.
wild_spot: I'll be getting more info on the show, class structure, times, dates etc closer to the show. All I know about it at the moment is that its set in Dec, it's designed for green riders/horses, and fence heights range from 50cm classes right through to 80 classes. I think I'll be competing in the 50-60cm classes.
It's not Equitation, I don't think. That comes as a relief that, if worse comes to worst, I'll be able to do a simple change! I've been doing simple changes on dog leg turns, so I'm used to getting back into canter pretty quick.
thats great, you sound like you have it covered, I bet you can be confident in flying changes with that mount by then and you can feel good that you are the one that taught the horse to be consistent with it...
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