Working Hunter prospect
I have been toying with the idea of taking my old all-around horse out of show ring retirement and training him in working hunter/Eq over for AQHA. He is 16.2H, completely sound, shown extensively at a pretty high level. I originally bought him as a hunter prospect but due to trainer issues, ended up only competing in the all-around events. I retired him about 4 years ago when I didn't have enough time to actually maintain him, much less compete on him. Since then, he has been a pasture ornament and used as an occasional lesson horse.
Now that I have a little more time, and have been jumping my project horse (doesn't have much talent, though), I am looking at using this guy again, but in the over fences events. If I do compete on him, I would want to compete at a regional/national level in AQHA, which is at around 3'. I have had a number of highly respected trainers in QH suggest moving him over to the over fences classes, or try to talk me into coming to their barn, but call me cynical, but I don't always trust it.
I have a couple of videos for you to look at, they aren't the best quality, but hopefully it is good enough to evaluate him some. The ones in the show ring are HUS classes from 4 years ago, when he was still really in shape and going strong (not in 1995 like the date on the video says - he wasn't even born then!). Also, you might want to turn down the volume. There's comments from the peanut gallery and family, and I don't remember exactly what all is said (might have a few choice words).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLYdN76-TG0 - This one is in a small arena where he couldn't move out his best, but it's the best one I have as far as being out in the open where you can see him.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXrunDuUKjo - Bigger arena where he can move out more, but we occasionally get lost in the crowd.
The jumping video is from about a week ago, and is actually the very first time he has ever jumped. We had to up the fence height on him so he would do more than just step over it. From what I could feel, he has a stronger push-off and uses his body really well over the fences, but I'm not a jumping expert by any stretch of the imagination.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiDKUnFsDkQ - Unfortunately, my friend who was in the center of the arena with a camera lost that copy, so I don't have it to show you. Would have been a better angle. (Please don't worry about my form - I was concentrating entirely on him, and really driving him to the base of the fence and staying out of his way, not trying to look pretty. Plus, I have a hurt leg/quad and have a hard time holding a two-point for very long.)
Let me know what you think. I know you can't say for sure either way based off of one video, I'm just looking for some plus and minuses on this. Thanks!!
Here are a couple of random videos from shows, I don't think they will help you at all, though, except to show that he is really broke, balanced, and manueverable, which would be good for Eq over classes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UtJnDtrb9E http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB2eskBt8Ls http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtcS3YYYZJg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_EQ-U-Lc7Y
I don't have the attention span right now to comment on everything, but the thing I noticed with the over fences video, he seemed disconnected; like he's jump with his front end, then his hind end would lag and then eventually pop over the fence as well. Chances are you can strengthen his hind end and get him to become united between his front and hind, but I thought I'd let you know what I saw.
He has gorgeous movement by the way... how old is he, if you're taking him out of semi-retirement?
Thanks for the comments. That's what I'm looking for - what is he doing, good or bad, that I'm not noticing, especially since I'm no where near a jumping guru. Plus, I just miss things :D Now that you point it out, I could kinda feel that, I just didn't know what it was. It felt like he would take off, and then I would get this sudden push off from behind that I really wasn't expecting. Maybe it's just him trying to learn how to coordinate his body? Hmm, just thinking outloud.
He's only 12. I started showing him lightly on the QH circuit as a late 3yo, then retired him due to my grad school commitments and time issues when he was eight. I figure he has a couple of more good years left in him, especially since he has had quite a few years off.
Thanks for the compliment on his movement. It was part of what drew me to him as a two year old. That, plus his naturally balanced way of going. Even when he was all legs and no body (I'm only 5'2, and at 16H my feet were still just below the bottom of his barrel), he could canter around anything and never lose his stride rhythm, without me having to help him hold it. That has spoilt me for other horses.
I don't think his hind end is too weak.
Hes barely clearing these fences because of his approach and flatting.
He needs to get his head up a few strides out so that he can use his sharper vision to see the jump. Where his head is now, he will only see the it until hes inches away from it. He will be unable to get his distances and will chip, stop, or run-out.
I realize that this low headset is popular in the AQHA circuit, but it is impractical and very dangerous when jumping.
Hes on the forehand, which makes it that much harder for him to pick his front up over the fence. A jump is just a huge canter stride. A horse that has a light front at the canter on the flat will have a light front over the fence.
You are clearly a very good rider who has a very nice horse. I'm sure you really clean up at HUS shows! But until he picks up his head and front and gets elevated, I wouldn't try jumping him.
Please don't take this the wrong way, he is your hrose and you can do whatever you want with him! This is just my two cents.
Very nice horse by the way, he should go a long way :)
Thanks for your advice. I'm definately not encouraging the low headset when I'm jumping, but at the same time I'm not going to force him to lift up his head. With most of the over fence horses at QH shows, the head is above the withers by a couple of inches, but not as far up as most of the horses I've seen at the H/J shows. To tell you the truth, with Chance he naturally carries his head low in the pasture, on the lunge line, and when riding. When his head goes up, he sems to lose his reach with his front end, and his stride shortens quite a bit. And just to point out something that is a pet peeve for me, just because his head is down does not mean that he's on his front end. I promise he is not. And trust me, I've ridden horses who are on their fornt end, and they drive me nuts.
Unfortunately, he doesn't do that well at the large QH shows. The level of competition and what they want at the big shows has changed drastically. When I started showing him, he did clean up in both youth and open classes, and a couple of years later he was one of the smallest horses out there and we're lucky to make the cut. That's part of the reason I retired him (that and lack of time). He does great at small QH shows, just not the big ones.
Thanks for your help.
His size has little to do with him not being competitive at higher levels. I know they love monsters on the QH circuit, but your horse, although a gorgeous mover (Love his canter, very well trained!) Has a lot of knee action at the trot for this discipline. His trot isn't as long or as flowy as what they are looking for now--still a A+ mover in my book, just not what the HUS crowd is looking for anymore. I think he would excel over fences--you can show off his canter, and although he's a little silly over the fences, that can be fixed because I think he has a quiet, nice flow over them.
Just because a horse carries his head low doesn't mean he wouldn't benefit from raising it. I'm not a true H/J person (Breed APHA!), but I think he needs a little more impulsion, and raise the level of the head juuust a few inches. Not speed, just effort. He seems to go, 'ah, well, I'll go over the fence for you' because he's a good boy, but he's not putting that much effort, at thats why you get a little bit of the lift-legs-then-push feeling. I also think once the fences get higher, he'll do a little better, but remember--don't increase the height too quickly! Let him be confident in what he's doing.
And just to stand up for the way our Breed-show Hunters are, I see MUCH less crashes and problems at our major shows. Or horses may jump with their heads down... but they're obedient and don't run out/refuse because of it! Gotta love breed-showing. <3
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