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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My gelding has been out of jumping most of the winter due to the ground freezing up, plus some hoof issues in Nov/Dec that didn't allow for the concussion jumping can bring, especially on harder ground. Now that we're back into the swing of things, I'm noticing some issues... Primarily he over jumps things and hangs his knees. We're only jumping about 2'/2'3" right now because, as said, he's not been jumping so he's still getting his fitness back. Any exercises to help with this? I was thinking tall cross-rail bounces, like 3 or 4 in a row, might get him to tuck his legs up. But that's all I can think of and I'd like to avoid drilling the same exercise over and over, you know? I've attached a photo so you can see what I mean. Excuse how out of practice I am :grin::grin: I'm working on getting my leg strength back and keeping my hands in the right place, etc (any exercises for those things would be helpful too actually)
 

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Good exercises to help a horse who hangs at the knee....
-square wide oxers
-placing a pole after the jump
-make sure he does not take off for the jump too deep

Did he do this before? You can "train" the horse to help to some degree, but some horses just jump that way (in that case, I wouldn't do any solid jumps).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Good exercises to help a horse who hangs at the knee....
-square wide oxers
-placing a pole after the jump
-make sure he does not take off for the jump too deep

Did he do this before? You can "train" the horse to help to some degree, but some horses just jump that way (in that case, I wouldn't do any solid jumps).
He prefers to go quite deep, as you can see in the photo :/ We're working on it lol it's been a process. He did not do this before, I'm attaching a photo (a bit small, sorry) of us doing a 3'6" vertical that he took pretty nicely. Again, a bit close but his jump has always been very up and down, and rounded, not a long high sweeping jump. His knees are definitely more tucked up and neat compared to what he's doing now.

I feel like it's a combination of being out of shape, therefore doing things 'properly' takes a bit more effort, and him being lazy, as he has never taken anything under 3' seriously, and practically lopes over ground poles. As a fit young 7 year old, he was able to clear 4'6" tall oxers that were around 5' wide with plenty of room and knees tucked in, shoulders even, rounded back. :loveshower: Absolutely beautiful. I'm hoping this will go away with retraining and fitness gain. In terms of solid jumps he's gone up to training level cross country and is very respectful of solid fences, walls, log piles, etc. If he knows it can be knocked down, he's a bit less careful, and as I said, if it's small he can get lazy
 

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In both of these pictures he really doesn't look to be using his back much at all and is jumping inverted. Especially if he's been out of work for awhile he really needs to go back to doing a lot of correct flat work with lateral work and cavaletti's to help strengthen his back and core so that he can actually use himself correctly instead of just throwing himself over and praying for the best which is what he appears to be doing now. His knees will start to improve when he can support himself properly over the fence as well.
 

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In both of these pictures he really doesn't look to be using his back much at all and is jumping inverted. Especially if he's been out of work for awhile he really needs to go back to doing a lot of correct flat work with lateral work and cavaletti's to help strengthen his back and core so that he can actually use himself correctly instead of just throwing himself over and praying for the best which is what he appears to be doing now. His knees will start to improve when he can support himself properly over the fence as well.
I agree with this. Good flat work makes a HUGE difference when developing a horse over fences. Having good basic laterals and good true rhythm and tempo go a long ways. Though I find people take it for granted, straightness, rhythm, half halt and training good responses.

I think walk trot transitions are very helpful for establishing a good response and also developing a correct response to half halts. I mention this because this is a step that is often neglected. When I half halt I come up somewhat in my shoulders and chest, engage my core and sort of hold my back/seat still for a moment, maybe lightly close my middle finger or ring finger on the reins and then soften my fingers and leg on which I then introduce that concept by walk 3 steps trot 3 steps, walk 3 steps, trot 3 step and then introduce the nearly walk transition from trot and bring them almost to walk and just before they go to walk I add leg and send them on. And that's the start of developing a correct response to a half halt. The horse's quickly learn to distinguish between the halt and half halt and if a horse runs through my half halt aid, I merely make a full transition because it's about training the response and showing them the expectation. If they don't understand it in a subtle sense, then you exaggerate to show them the idea. It helps with establishing a correct rhythm, setting tempo, organization of balance and developing good mechanics as the above post mentioned. Improving posture, strengthening the topline and core, so he can use himself well over the fences.

Cavaletti, poll work, leg yield, shoulder fore. Short strides, long strides, standard stride, serpentines, shallow loops, tear drop loops, etc.

Here are actually some good videos that should be helpful




I'm also a big fan of trotting fences. I don't jump hardly at all anymore but I'll say trotting fences really improves form and tends to make horses use themselves better. Trotting through grids. A lot of horses, especially if they're larger if they start jumping cantering, some of them develop poor form and never bother learning how to use themselves over the fences.

Really riding your lines and riding straight in good rhythm. At the end of your line halt. Being able to play with rhythm, tempo and size of stride. To me I would not jump a horse over 3ft until on the flat they properly respond to a half halt, I can fairly easily ask for a larger stride without a horse getting quick or a smaller stride without a horse getting slow or ask for a large-slow stride and a quick small stride. Simply for adjustability and handiness. Training habits and responses.

Putting a horse through a jump shoot is also helpful for developing form and allowing them to figure out their distances without a rider intervening. I come from an eventing background, so a horse having a good eye is important to me.

I primarily break and bring on youngsters, so to me it's always about the foundation where the details are most often over looked.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the replies. I would love to put him through a chute but unfortunately the only enclosed arena we have is too small for a proper chute, and with only 5 pairs of standards, there is hardly anything to build the jumps/grids with so I'm limited in terms of complexity. :/

He has been in good flat work since I got him three years ago, jumping or not, and is very forward, round, straight, rhythmic, connected and adjustable. I consider those the basics before one begins taking jumps, and they just happen to be the basics of the dressage training pyramid as well (minus adjust-ability, but it should be lol). His transitions are responsive but not overly snappy (as in he doesn't "drop out" of a gait, or "pop into" the next).

I would agree with @SansPeurDansLaSelle that he does have a tendency to be hollow. He is rarely hollow or inverted on the flat, so I think it's a fitness issue with fences. I've been doing such small steps in his fitness but he's always been slow to gain muscle and athleticism. He's got that classic thoroughbred stamina ;) He wasn't hollow over poles so I did cavaletti. He started to carry himself well over those so I moved to 1' tall cross rails. It just takes him a while at each stage to figure himself out and start to carry himself properly. It does happen (eventually) so I try not to rush things and just stay consistent.

My favorite thing recently has been playing around with 4 trot poles to a 1' tall and 1' wide oxer. I put it up the center line and ask him to trot or canter out, and am working on him coming in straight so I can ask for either lead properly. On Saturday or Sunday (provided it isn't frozen out) I plan to set up a few trot poles into a cross rail bounce with one stride to a small oxer. If I do it in the outdoor there's a way I can prop my phone up (safe right?) so if I do jump I'll film it and post it here :D Just don't tear me apart for my equitation lol It's always a work in progress and everyone's style is a little different. I have very short femurs (hip to knee = 13"), scoliosis (two curves) and terrible joint laxity (EDS) so finding a position that's both balanced and comfortable can be pretty tricky :p

PS: If I don't jump I'll at least flat him inside and lay down some poles and such. I will take some video (just with my phone) to put up here.
 

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If he's had some time off I'd forget about the jumping for a while and focus on getting him fit and supple again - if you can do it you should do as much work as possible out of the arena, lots of trail rides with some up and down hill work
Limit jumping exercises to low grids and ground poles so he's got to 'elevate' himself to get over them - and use the same grids to train him and yourself to be able to lengthen and shorten his stride so he takes off when you ask him to rather than him making his own decisions and getting in too deep
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Apologies on no video or anything so far, it's been much too rainy + stormy to do much. We do have an indoor but the footing is terrible and the lighting doesn't allow for me to take video, it just comes up black. :/ Maybe I can break the camera out later this week. I do ride in the rain, especially if it's hardly drizzling, but even a drizzle is too much moisture for me to have my phone or a camera out to get wet.
@jaydee He's not had time off, as said in my first post he has "been out of jumping most of the winter" meaning I still ride him for 40/50 minutes multiple days a week (typically 4 or 5 right now). I've had him doing poles and cavaletti as well, it's just the jumps he's not been doing. It's either a lack of fitness, lack of finesse, or both.

In general, I've noticed he's more sloppy in grids and lines/courses, so I feel it may also be that he's getting lazy because he feels like it's a lot to think about, maybe not even a fitness problem to begin with? Riding is a lot of work both mentally and physically, for us and the horse. If I just ask him to trot or canter a single fence, he does it very nicely with good impulsion and straightness, and tucks his legs right up. :/ Very puzzling considering all the possibilities lol I wish I could just say "Dewey, why do you do that?" and he would just tell me "It's too hard" or "I don't feel like it" or "I forget, I'm more focused on straightness and the approach" -sigh-

Will keep y'all updated, and keep eyeing the weather for a break in the rain to bust out my recorder. Feel free to post any favorite exercises, flat or fences, in the meantime. I'm always collecting things to print out and put in my book. I keep it at the barn to flip through if I want to ride but am feeling bored :D
 

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OK I understand - maybe just idle then, that sort of can't be bothered attitude. In the past I've had horses that you could confidently ask to jump anything out hunting or cross country and know that they'd give it everything they had but that same horse when asked to show jump just wouldn't do it, like they either can't see the point or know the poles will fall so not worth the effort
Maybe just work at creating more impulsion so he's more 'punchy' over the fence and less 'meh'. Remember impulsion isn't about speed its about elevation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
UPDATE: So, the video I took is somehow corrupted, I sent it directly off my video camera onto my computer. :-? Oh well, I have some screenshots of what I took on my phone.

Basically, he came in over the trot poles with great impulsion and reach and tucked his legs up nicely over the oxer. He did land on the wrong lead a few times, but after I started really asking for it (not just expecting it) he took up the proper one. We did this several times, and he seemed to like it and take nicely to the setup. I did put up V poles, as that has also been said to encourage a "snappy" jump in horses who tend to be lazy in the front. I also want address that, yes, I'm aware I look a bit "perchy" in the second photo (as well as my hands being pretty low) I'm working on it, and making a consious effort to not do both of those things. This thread isn't meant for eq assessment, but if you have any suggestions or exercises to improve these issues, I totally would welcome them. :D

Also: As mentioned, he likes to get in close to jumps. He doesn't knock rails, or even tap jumps for that matter, but it can't be good for his back and neck to bunch up like this over fences. I'd like to encourage him to reach and round more. I may get shot down for this... but would a bigger oxer help discourage bunching, and require him to reach more? Obviously, it's not generally common practice to move up the height when the horse isn't jumping it "correctly" but as I do jumpers not hunters a "proper" jump at a competition simply means not hitting it. I'd like to avoid the scrunched up "pop" he does, either way. When he does get a longer distance it's easier to ride too. I imagine spacing him in with a canter pole or two would help as well, and keep him backed off from the fence, yes?

Let me know your thoughts/observations. :thumbsup:
 

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Its hard to tell without a video but he gives me the impression that he doesn't try very hard, lack of impulsion as he gets to that 3 stride before lift off and then 'go' point?
You could try to encourage him to stand off more by moving your ground pole further away but don't let him use that as an excuse to go fast and flat. If you try that I would have your actual jump as a simple upright to start with, maybe with a second jump on the other side so he's got to get himself together to bounce over it
 

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Generally, chipping is from being too fast while long spots come from being too slow. Not always, but often.

I have issues with the common request of ignoring a rider's equitation. How you sit on the horse effects them tremendously. It's not just looking pretty, hunter or not. There's a good chance your eq is the reason he isn't reaching and rounding over the fences. Well, from the pictures shown, it is impossible for him to round over the fence because you are catching him in the mouth. Give him to rope to hang himself and grab mane.
 

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I think if anything he approaches the jump with too much rein for a horse that isn't naturally very 'punchy' so he gets all stretched out and to use one of my late mother's favourite terms - lollops around, like its all too much effort instead of being gathered together like a coiled spring ready to release all of its energy.
When he's in the air though - that's when the rein thing goes the other way and he's not being allowed to reach forward then - and why you need to allow your arms to move forwards towards his mouth - then when you land bring them back and gather him together again
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Managed to find my own post on Ig to post here. It's just a quick video but shows you how he comes in.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BQeE_LsgsK1/
@jaydee I'm planning on figuring out how to do a bounce, one stride, oxer, one stride, bounce setup. That would require 6 pairs of standards, which I have 3 pairs, but I could use some of the traffic cones we have in the arena for maneuver marking just to prop up a jump. Hoping I'll do this Fri or Sat, and I'll try and rope the BO's daughter into taking a good video for me.
@ApuetsoT Being fast is the least of his worries lol As stated above, I'll try and get a good video, this time of him cantering in, so you can see about what speed he takes jumps. It's pretty relaxed IMO. I have some videos somewhere but they're older (1 yr +) and don't really show the issue at hand, his knees.

I never said to ignore my equitation, in fact, I brought up exactly what I don't like, and said that I would welcome suggestions or exercises to fix it. Neither perching nor low hands affect how I ride, I'm balanced, can cue him well with my leg, and I don't think you're on quite the right track about me catching him in the mouth either. I'll place in another photo of me jumping him in July or August last year. You can clearly see I'm off his face, and in fact my reins are drooping a bit. Not a fan of that aesthetically, but it's not to the point where he could get a foot through them if he tripped or something so no biggie. I'd much rather have slack than rip on his face. I ride (and jump) bridleless pretty often so when I do have a bridle on my reins are usually relaxed, as the photo shows, until I engage them. You can see in the photo that he is quite close to the jump, and not reaching away. But with disengaged reins, I'm at a loss as to why this would be.

So back on track: Jaydee's suggestion was that I was catching him in the mouth, but it's obvious I'm not. ApuetsoT shared that generally, chipping is from being too fast, but he's the least bit speedy. So back to my original theory: Is it just too much effort for him to waste time on little jumps? Would he rather just plop himself over it and be done? He seems to enjoy jumping. He never refuses (he'd rather a *** distance than slam on the brakes) and always has a pleasant expression. I think he just doesn't like the little stuff, or doesn't take it seriously. Is it just time to up the ante a tad?
 

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So I watched some of the videos you have on your Instagram and I agree with you that I don't really think your problem is catching him in the mouth, I would say it's the opposite actually. Coming into your jump you have no contact and no support so of course he's just going to flop over it without making an effort, he has no impulsion coming from behind. This is where you need to start back working on this on the flat, he needs to MOVE FORWARD. He's so slow there's no way he can make a good effort and making the jumps higher just sounds like a recipe for disaster. Lengthen your stirrups multiple holes so you can really drop your leg down and around him and make him start really tracking up into the bridle. You want to feel him lift up his back with his abs and his shoulders should feel out in front of you, you'll feel the difference when it clicks. I know you say you have short legs, well so do I but I have to make it work to ride correctly. Maybe watch some of Beezie Madden and Margie Engle's rides, they are very short women but are strong and very good riders, if they can do it we can do it! It also never hurts to start building your own fitness off the horse, a mixture of cardio, lifting, and ab work will greatly improve your riding when you get into the saddle, all competitive riders have to do cross training off the horse.

You say he gets ridden for 40-50 minutes but doesn't build muscle, this tells me that although you are riding he's not doing enough real work. My gelding gets ridden for about a half an hour or less usually five days a week but stays plenty fit enough for the 1.0m jumpers we're doing now because he's constantly working. He's engaged at the walk, even if it's a relaxed "stretchy" walk, and does a few turns on the forehand and turns on the haunches to get him listening for my leg. Then when we trot he immediately has to trot FORWARD, he's exceptionally lazy so I can't get complacent about it. Then, we add in shoulder-in, haunches-in, and leg yields, along with serpentines and loads of spiraling circles to get him bending, stretching, and moving forward off my leg. It's the same at the canter, I want him forward and cantering uphill, he needs to be collected into my hand and lifting his back. Again lot's of circles and changes of lead keep him engaged and listening to me. Then he gets to trot around on a long rein but I still have contact so he's stretching down and forward but still engaged. He only gets to relax off contact at the very end which tells him he is done working.

Another thing to consider, which I know can be somewhat controversial for some people, but I use draw reins pretty much every time he's ridden unless it's a relaxing trail ride day. It helps give him a bit more support and a channel to ride up into, like holding his hand a little bit. He's still young and somewhat inexperienced so I think he likes the feeling of the extra support and it helps remind him of the shape he's supposed to be in. He jumps in them too I just thread them through a martingale or breastplate to keep them out of the way. I don't crank his head down with them or anything they just help give him a little more leverage to encourage that nice round bascule.

However, mostly I really think you and this horse need to build a lot more fitness together before you try jumping any bigger. It's always hard to hear that but I had to learn this lesson a couple months ago and my guy is going so much better now just after a couple months of serious, engaged work getting us both fit. He was pulling rails every time out over the summer because he was jumping lazy, inverted, and slow. Now he's had all clear rounds and won a class at each show he's been to recently because he's fit enough and his whole jumping style has changed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
@SansPeurDansLaSelle What a novel! Thanks for the detailed thoughts. I just went ahead and posted some (low quality) videos on my insta (thoroughbredeventing) that are a good example of how he moves through his gaits. I keep a good contact on the flat, IMO at least lol and he does just as you described, engaging himself and lifting his back nicely in front of my leg. He doesn't have a typical 'hunterey' head, he does carry himself more classically, but does good stretchy work (none of that on video at the moment unfortunately) so I he's not always working so upright. His flatwork is pretty good, at least for being so young and not being a serious competitor or anything. I went to a local fair with my 4H club for a few years and in 2015 he got grand in dressage against around 40 competitors with a 3 judge panel. He ended up with a 73.5% at training level. He's maintained, more or less, a similar level of knowledge since (as mentioned other places on this forum, we don't really compete much; maybe once a year at a local show just for giggles and an outing). The issue is more or less his form over fences. We have previously competed at local shows up to 2'9"-3' (just under a meter) and always done well, keeping close to time and never dropping rails. Really, my issue is him not holding good form over smaller things, like 2' to 2'6". He is wonderful over poles and cavaletti though, so it's pretty puzzling to me. That's where I need thoughts...

I already am doing a mix of cardio and strength training outside of riding, so my schedule includes two of three: work (my job is very physical), riding, cardio/strength alternating. So if I don't have work, I might to a stirrupless ride for muscles and go for a jog later. If I do work, I either ride or do a workout and give him the day off. If that makes sense. For him, a normal week would be a transition and pattern ride monday, jumping tuesday, wednesday off, pole work thursday, free riding/tricks friday, some cavaletti on saturday, and sunday off because I work very early and am pretty tired. Maybe a quick lunge or a walk around to stretch and graze. I work Sun, Mon, Thurs, Fri and Sat, work out filling in any day I only have one thing. Also Wednesdays he is off and I don't work (school) so I'll run before I shower and do some strength work later too. I feel like that's a pretty normal fitness schedule for horse and human, yea?

Where did I say he doesn't build muscle? Can you quote? Not remembering what instance i brought that up in. :think: He is pretty slow to build muscle and stamina. I wouldn't say he doesn't build at all, ever. Maybe I was being dramatic, haha His recovery times while in a fitness program do usually take several sessions for him to adjust and come back faster. He's also slow to lose (atrophy) muscle, and once at a certain fitness level will usually stay that way with minimal conditioning. Which, you know, I can't complain about.

I don't want to use draw reins or anything like that. I used to use a german martingale for flatwork, and a chambon for lunge work. It started to become a crutch where he would turn into a naughty little head-tosser if he didn't have something like a german or running martingale on. But when he did have them on, he would only do "false collection" where his back was swooped but his head was 'in frame' but he would not track up, and refused to canter. Period. That lasted about two weeks before I gave the stuff back to the gal who lent them to me, and I went back to plain old normal riding with an engaged leg and steering with my seat, not a bridle. He went right back to moving forward, no short stepping or back dipping, and was happy again. He probably had certain 'tools' like that used while he was at the track, but seeing as he was broke, ridden, and tossed in the trash within 9 months, he probably didn't have proper introduction to those things, and they may not have been used properly or adjusted well. Even after years in a field, he probably still associates the action of those things with an unpleasant time, you know? So once the tool engages, he panics. Not a true panic with rearing or bolting, but he definitely was not a fan, so 'gadgets' of any sort are not an option. :-?

I'm not necessarily concerned about his fitness in terms of doing upper level things. Obviously, I want him healthy and all! Don't get me wrong. But he doesn't need the strength do be schooling GP level dressage tests and coursing 4' fences working 6 days a week and competing every month at Prelim three days. Again, I can't stress enough that at the moment i have zero interest in competing or leveling up what he's doing. I've done the big stuff, I've done higher level and it's not what I want. *shrug* I also don't have a trailer or funds to show, so, you know lol I want to enjoy jumping him and riding him at a low level and having nice easy fun. Keeping fences below 3' would help to preserve him longer, he's got classic TB legs. There's no need to push, you know? You mention your horse had been bringing down rails, and that does sound like a fitness issue. My guy was regularly free jumped last spring over 4' plus, and has cleared a 5' x 4' oxer on several occasions (again, free jumping). He has the scope, and has the form. But can't be bothered over smaller things. Doesn't give one single solitary ****. :shrug: It doesn't seem reasonable to put him back into coursing 3' fences just to make him jump right. I'd like him to jump correctly over small things too - The reason I originally opened this thread was specifically to see if anyone had exercises to suggest to get him lifting his front end and going correctly over small jumps. :p

Anyways, thanks again for the detailed thoughts. :D I was originally worried that in posting this I'd get people ripping on me "lame" "you're a sucky jumper" "put a 'real' trainer on him" "your hands are so low" "he's too close" "his head's not down" and just generally not being helpful, as the internet can be sometimes. Take a look at those videos I stuck on my insta, there's 6, it shows his walk, trot and canter, some both ways. I don't think he looks half bad, but it might be that's just how he is and what I'm used to, and isn't technically correct after all. Let me know what y'all think.
 

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A horse hanging in the air, or running into the base of a fence before jumping up and landing steeply, are two quite common indicators of saddle fit issues. Basically the horse is putting off the moment of landing when all the rider's weight goes onto the front arch, which digs in behind its shoulder. Particularly on the leading leg, which carries the whole of the combination's weight for an instant, .


I'm not saying this is the issue in your case but it's one thing you ought to check. Keen jumpers often put up with discomfort for some time but if it continues can turn into stoppers/horses that run out through the outside shoulder/horses that rush/horses that trail forelegs (to minimise shoulder rotation).
 

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Good point UnclearArthur


I totally agree that he's approaching the jump with not enough contact to ask for impulsion - I just thought that in the air your hands seem to not move forward with the action though in that shot above you don't looks too bad at all
Does he make more effort over a bigger jump or does he just go faster over it and rely on speed to propel him through the air rather than 'rider created' energy and impulsion?
 

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@ApuetsoT Being fast is the least of his worries lol As stated above, I'll try and get a good video, this time of him cantering in, so you can see about what speed he takes jumps. It's pretty relaxed IMO. I have some videos somewhere but they're older (1 yr +) and don't really show the issue at hand, his knees.
Seeing that particular video, I really don't see him taking off too close. It's a tiny trot fence. Cantering in would be more demonstrative, but with what this is, the distance for the approach was just fine. He is throwing him self over it, rather than actually putting an effort to jump it.

What are you doing with your hands though?? Some weird airplane imitation? Put your hands down. It's just a move of the elbows. Practice while two pointing while flatting. Forward, back, forward, back. Low along the neck. Floating them out in the air is a good way to hook them.

Try doing rapid fire walk/trot transitions, like 2 steps then transition, until he is snappy and responsive to a whisper, then trot into the fence(still doing the transitions up to the fence, so you are going to be walking close in front). If the transitions did their job, prepare for a bigger than usual effort.

Progressive bounces with big X's. would highly recommend a big crest release, holding mane. This is about impressing him and letting him figure out how to rock back and round.

Steep X's in general. Pole before and after.

I never said to ignore my equitation
You're right, you didn't. I read your post while at then barn, then drove home and replied. I seem to have been caught up in the line about how it wasn't a thread about eq specifically. It is a comment I see often and my point still stands for the general populace.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
A horse hanging in the air, or running into the base of a fence before jumping up and landing steeply, are two quite common indicators of saddle fit issues.
Good point there. I just had his saddle checked out about a month ago, about a week after a chiro appointment just to regain 'normal' back lineup and saddle fit. I wonder if after chiro, we fit his saddle well to his back, then he kind of settled enough that it's not a super fit anymore. Usually after I get my back and hips tweaked they aren't the same a month out as they were a week after, so he could be experiencing something similar. I don't get body work done on him often (maybe 3x a year?), but a gal at the barn brought up saddle fit as well and I'm thinking about getting the fitter back out just to double check. I can't feel anything obvious but I'm not the expert lol If he doesn't do any adjustments, just feels around, the visit is priced pretty reasonably.

@ApuetsoT I would agree that he did kind of 'blop' over it, as I call it. Not a nice rounded, smooth jump at all. :/ It's definitely a good example of the kind of action I want to get rid of. Of course, he can and has done better, and obviously that video is not a representation of how he jumps every fence, but I'd like to eliminate that sort of thing completely, you know? As for my hands and that "weird airplane thing" I had to go re watch it. I 100% did not realize how bizarre it looked on camera. :shock: I was opening my rein very wide to push him into the proper lead. The way he was taught was to move into an open rein (I don't direct rein, so this works particularly well in a hack or neckrope). So the whole picture includes me opening one rein, sometimes a lot to make it obvious, and putting the opposite leg back and kind of pushing the energy forward diagonally to ask for him to step under away from my leg, and giving him room to open his shoulder and take the lead up, if that makes sense. He'd taken the outside lead a few times and subtle weight shifting with just my leg wasn't getting the point across.

I like the idea of using pretty tall X rails, particularly in combination with oxers. The two will work both his "up" movement and his "out" movement, and the difference in jump style should keep things interesting too, not just vertical after vertical. As for poles before and after, at the moment all we have maybe 3 wood poles, and the rest are pvc poles, which I'm not comfortable putting on the ground. I've seen enough horses step on one and roll it out from under them, and even saw a mare snap a pvc pole in half and she ended up with two big shards of it in her frog. Yikes. I do however intend to start using V poles more, as those usually tend to encourage him to keep back from the fence and lift nicely, and can make use of the pvc.

@jaydee "Does he make more effort over a bigger jump or does he just go faster over it and rely on speed to propel him through the air rather than 'rider created' energy and impulsion?" - He 110% will make a point to jump well over larger jumps. I think when I up the ante he understands, and the bigger stuff seems more fun to him. He will do lazy flat jumps over something around 1', then if I take him cross country schooling, he can get up a 3' bank no problem, or over a large table beautifully. I'm attaching an old video screenshot of him clearing a pretty large vertical while free jumping. I think those were 6' standards, so the jump would be around 5'3" or 5'6". You can see, although blurry, he is definitely tucking his legs up well and making every effort to jump it well. This was the second fence in a line of two verticals with two competition length strides in between. He can be very athletic when he wants to :clap:

EDIT: I'll see if I still have the video that screenshot was taken somewhere. I don't have the same phone as I did when that was taken, but I may have put it on FB or IG, so I dig around. It was quite a while ago but it should be around, just buried. If I find it I'll post it on my IG and link it here.
 

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