Is this a good way to deal with rushing?
My mare had a brief problem with rushing. In the beginning of our ride she usually still 'tests' me before she realizes she has to listen.
What she'd do is pick up speed 3-4 strides before the jump when I couldn't really do much to slow her, then afterwards she'd pick up momentum and gain speed after every jump. I worked with stop-go transitions and nothing was changing. Finally, I looked up western pleasure training techniques thinking, if anyone knows how to slow a horse down its them! haha I found this transition method that sounded pretty good so I tried it and it worked great! if the horse gets too forward, stop, back up, walk, stop, then go. changing it up a little so its stop, go, stop, back, walk, or whatever. this made her very responsive, back to normal. Then I added jumps and it got worse again. So I added the transitions into the jumping.
If she got forward towards the jump, I stopped her (in front of the jump, mind you) and backed her, then when she was calm, I'd ask for trot/canter over the jump. (she's very athletic and can take a 2'6" from virtually a standstill) The transitions were also added around turns, in between lines, on the rail, etc.
I was worried that this stopping in front of the jump would possible encourage a refusing habit? But after I did this, I could do courses and she wasn't rushing AT ALL so I figured it worked. I don't want to do it again if it could cause even greater problems, but I'm not sure I'll have to do it again. What are your opinions?
My trainer (who has competed 3rd level dressage and Intermediate eventing) recommended to do the exact same thing on my mare. And it worked!
I think what you're doing is good!
dressage, dressage, dressage, dressage - or flatwork, flatwork, flatwork, flatwork *however you want to look at it* is the most important factor to jumping successfully.
Balance, rhythm, control, responsive to aids, getting your horse on the hind end, driving from behind, off the forehand, and etc, etc, etc - everything you would do in your dressage aka transitions, rhythm, balance, soft, supple, engaged, responsive to riders aids, extension, collection etc, etc - you should expect in your jumping.
When I work on my jumping at home, I do mostly flat work than I do popping over fences. I'll obtain the importancies on the flat first, then I'll direct us to a fence, and then I move back to what I was doing on the flat directly after, and continue process.
BUT - you, the rider must be correct as well. If your horse is rushing, you need to figure out why. Where are you in the saddle? What's your body doing while in the saddle? Is there anything you could be doing, or not be doing - to encourage the results you are getting?
You must be balanced, in order for your horse to be balanced. You must be correct in the saddle, to aid your horse to be correct. Our horses reflect 100% of what we are doing in the saddle, they are our mirrors.
I love the fact that my Coaches, work on me first, before they focus on the horse. I love how they correct me, in order to aid my horse to be as correct as he can be.
The behavior spiked when a friend of mine took her jumping. There was one jump in particular she'd hesitate or spook at so my friend put spurs on. She didn't look at anything after that, nor did she hesitate. In fact, the opposite happened: she'd launch herself at things and started getting quick. I got on her and noticed the change, but she'd stop when I asked her to and in the beginning I didn't think of it as something to be wary of. But it got worse pretty quick, in less than a week she was strong jumping. I did a lot of transition work and it seemed to get better, I was at the point where I could make her look normal, but in reality I was sitting VERY deep, maintaining a lot of contact and not letting my legs touch her sides. She's a very sensitive mare, all I have to do is shift my weight to make her speed up, slow down, turn, etc. and if you very lightly cue with your legs, she'll respond. She used to be equally as responsive with upward transitions as she was with downward. Last night I seemed to FINALLY get her back to normal. I was riding with fairly light contact, she was listening nicely to subtle half halts (which when she was doing the rushing, it seemed as though she was deaf to my seat and hands unless they screamed)
I have different methods for the walk than I do from the trot and with the canter. When I came into the arena, she was huffing and puffing, doing that saddlebred "snort" routine, and felt like she just wanted to GO and thats all she was thinking. Her mindset wasn't what is my rider telling me to do but rather I need to go and it was obvious she didn't give a rat's ass about me. So, I walked a little then halted. she spun her backend around, tossed her head and tried to walk on, so I spun her really fast then halted again. I only did this a few times both ways before she was walking perfectly on the rail, head down, listening very nicely. We did more walk/stops and circles before I added the trot.
The trot is usually not much of an issue, I just do circles, diagnol passes, stops, and whatever and she's usually perfect; a little fresh the first lap or so, but after that, no problems whatsoever.
I then add in a crossrail to the exercises. Same trot, stop, circle stuff, but with the occasional little jump. I haven't been focusing on height lately, rather calmness. she did fine so I cantered. This was before the backing came in to my mind, so I was just cantering, circling, and stopping. I added the crossrail into the equation and she took a long spot and about a stride out would quicken. This is a horse that could easily do 2'9" courses in her sleep, she didn't need that pace to get over a crossrail she could walk over. so I kept doing my same trial and error routine for a while before I remembered a video I'd seen at camp probably 7 to 8 years ago. The only thing I remember is some old guy making the horse stop as soon as he got strong towards the fence. How I remembered that I don't know. But I figured timing was key to this, so as to prevent refusing. I also remember reading somewhere about how western pleasure trainers use transitions to slow the canter to a lope. The thing that stuck out to me most was that along with the stop/go transitions, they had backing. So I added that to the stopping when she got strong and it worked magic. at one point, I stopped her a stride away (finally was able to catch her before lift off) and backed her sufficiently away so we could pick up the canter and get over it. With that space, she didn't have time to rush and just hopped over it. Right after the jump, I stopped again, backed, stopped, then continued to the next jump. By the end of our ride, I was riding courses perfectly.
Riding her, since she is so sensitive, makes me a little more conscientious about my body when I'm riding.
Yes, stopping a rushing horse in front and backing up does help, just make sure not to do it too many times in a row and don't do it alllll the time. Another thing that helps is to land off the fence and turn, turn left the first time, then turn right the next time. Jump a fence on a slight angle, jump it straight, change direction etc, you want to try and keep the horse guessing a little bit what might be coming up so they are not just staring at the same fence, running at it, landing, and running off. Also be very careful not to squeeze if you are trying to hold her back, so many people make this mistake unconsciously. Good luck! :)
My understanding of rushing is that the horse is not confident in jumping. I agree with the comments about balance, also his striding is important and can be helped with ground poles - here's some great exercises and the spacing of them.
Ground Pole Exercises
Then I would move on to ground poles in front of the jump.
Trot up to the fence. if she tries to take off hold her as much as so can and then after the fence halt her pivot and do the fence again. it takes a couple times to slow down but it does work. I was training my friends gelding and he was super speedy and not responsive until I tried this it works really good. and if they don't rush the fence and listen to you then be really still and let them continue over the fence and on the rail and try agin.
I personally would try everything else before I start pulling up or turning a horse right in front of a fence. I don't like the idea of teaching them to refuse or run out.
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