Looking at the jump?
So my lessons have been doing amazing. After reading and practicing on my own how to ride from the seat, it has seemed to finally click. I feel like I am riding loser and more fluid with the horse and really getting him to stretch and lift his ribcage and reach with his back legs.
We've gone over a few little jumps (More raised trot poles than anything else) and it's raised a question. I've always been tought to pick a point in front of the jump (The arena wall, a post, etc) and ride to that without looking at the jump.
My new instructor has been telling me to look at the point I want my horse to jump at until his ears obscure the jump then to look up to where I want to land/go.
Is this correct?
When i was little and just starting out, that is what i was taught..but then i started riding green horses and started the "look down fall down" trend. It seemed every time i would look at the jump the horse would duck out, which i can understand. I always look ahead to the next jump or where i'm supposed to land.
We haven't had a duck out yet, and I've been making sure that I'm not looking with my head and really trying to just tilt my eyes, but that's what I thought too. I've always said you look where you want to be...if you look on the ground all the time, you end up on the ground...
I was also taught growing up to look 'past' the jump, to the point of not really looking at the jump at all. Then I took a clinic with this awesome grand prix trainer that was like, what the heck are you looking at?!? She taught that you keep your eye on the top rail of the jump (or oxer rail if it's an oxer) until you're about a stride or two out. Then you raise your eye and look past the jump. This has been the MOST effective for me. I have noticed a trend that if a rider tends to keep looking down at the fence their horses tend to duck out. So yes, it is very important to look past it once you're about a stride out.
Upnover, thats a better way of describing it. It was pretty much look where you want to jump, then where you want to land. It's really going against what I am used to doing and hearing, so I want to be sure. (MIEventer, you've got me all freaked out about instructors!)
My instructor trains with Beth Perkins and Jim Wofford apparently, so I assume she knows what she's doing. I don't though so it's up to you guys to answer my newb questions! :)
If you are looking at the point in which you want the horse to go (the jump) your striding will be better. If you keep looking at the jump, the horse will stop. If after the horse's head has obscured the fence you look up, your striding will be set up well, and you'll be looking up past the jump so the horse most likely wont stop.
Thank you anabel :)
There isn't really a set time for looking up, but I guess the ears are a good guideline. Really, you want to look at the jump for as long as you need to, and no longer. Obviously when finding your distance to the jump, you can't tell how far away you are if you don't look. Once you find your spot and adjust your stride accordingly, you can raise your eyes up and look over the jump.
Dorothy Crowell trains under Jim Wofford as well *She's the 4 star Eventing Clinitian I ride under whenever she comes to town to give a clinic* and what she has taught is that when you are going over fence A, you should already be looking at fence B.
When you just landed fence A, you already know where you are going because you were looking at the next fence already, so now you are back on your horses back, your horse is back under you, and you have re-established your rhythm and are now on approach to fence B.
You are looking at the top of the fence, yes. When you are about 5 strides away, you want to be looking up and beyond the fence. You find a focal point to stare at.
Legs are wrapped around the girth, your seat is driving, your hands are freeing the horses face by softening your fingers.
I agree with Sparkles - whenever you get into the habit of staring at the fence, you are going to fall into trouble and pick up worse habits along the line. It is fine to look at the top of the fence when you are on approach, but once you have your horse locked onto the fence, look above and beyond.
Every horse is different. I am on a "been there done that" fellow, and I don't have to look at the top of the fence, I can close my eyes and he'll do it all for me - which is the ultimate goal in our horses. Our horses should be the one's who find the distance in the end, but until then - we have to beable to aid them.
Remember, horses jump blindly. They cannot see that fence when you are about 2/3 strides away, that is why it is uber important that you, the rider, is not looking at it or you will get faults.
Your coach seems competant. Ask her more questions about those whom she trained under. I had a coach that told me she "trained" under a big named rider - but it turns out, it was just a clinic.
That would be like me saying I train under Dorothy Crowell, when in reality, I only ride under her when she comes here to give a clinic, once or twice a year.
Yes, there are many uneducated coaches out there, but you seem to have a competant one. Don't be scared to ask questions darling. Ask questions all you want. If she tells you to do something you are not comfortable with, or don't understand the theory behind it, or want to know more as to why and how and when - ask, ask, ask, ask, ask.
I talk my coaches ear off. It doesn't mean I am questioning his intelligence or experience - it is beacuse I want to know more. I want to know WHY, why am I doing this? What is the theory behind it?
See what I mean Jelly Bean :)
This is a great PH article that discusses this very thing. Check it out:
Use Your Eye to Find a Good Distance to Fences
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