Staying in balance over fences?

Ambers Echo

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If both me and the horse see the same stride then it all feels lovely. But if something unexpected happens (she stands off or gets in deep or chips in) I get ahead or behind.

Various 'RI speak' phrases are not really helping: I have tried waiting for the fence to come to me and sitting back till her shoulders lift then going with the horse but if I do that I sometimes get left behind unless I know where she is going from. But if I try to see a stride and she then chips in, I get ahead of her. If the horse hesitates and then goes I get left really far behind which makes me feel awful as she gets socked in the teeth for responding to my 'go on' aid when she wasn't sure in the first place. I am practicing on Dolly because I don't want to turn Toby off jumping with my bad riding! Poor Dolly. How do I stay with her when she jumps awkwardly or off an unexpected stride. I don't even lnow what skill I need to practice? Jumping with no reins? Core work?? Eyes closed jumping??? (On a lunge obviously!) It is sooooo odd riding other horses after Amber. I can't tell what they are going to do.
 

DirectorFury

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Eyes closed jumping (off the lunge too!) will help you learn exactly what you should be feeling / aiming for. If the horse is reliable like Dolly then you can just close your eyes several strides out so don't need to be lunged or have anyone on the ground.
 

Ambers Echo

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Eyes closed sounds pretty scary! But it makes sense as a way to get better at feeling for when to fold or give forward instead of trying to antipate it.
 

tallyho!

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With you! My mare is a 'mare! After the c-section it felt like I was two different people. My brain and body didn't speak the same language. I couldn't believe it when someone took a photo of me sitting "straight" I was actually staring far off into the distance over her right shoulder. Whaaatt??

No flipping wonder I was exiting left with a hard thud all the time.

So yeah I did have a year sorting out my middle bits. Then I did a lot of trotting/cantering out of the saddle to sort out my leg strength... it's improving but it's taking a long time. I still lose balance if she hesitates over a fence or completely overdoes it. Whoops!

A friend of mine swears that a year on the gallops improved her jumping no end - personally I think fitness and balance in the leg really helps.
 

Goldenstar

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Do some watching of great show jumpers .
What you will see is how little they move .
Work at staying upright in the middle of the saddle .
When you get the uncomfortable feeling approaching fence it’s hands down two inches feet forward two inches shoulder back two inches .
This is advice was given to me years ago and it’s simple and it works .
 

DabDab

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Well when I was younger I used to get my reins taken away if I caught a horse in the mouth, and would jump with arms out to the side, which definitely does help. Particularly good if you do it down a grid.
 

HufflyPuffly

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I've found I've improved when I'm dictating more where we will take off from, as I know where we should be taking off so I am more prepared.

Skylla prefers to go from a long one and not bascule, so we've been working a lot on waiting for the next stride. To get the take off point I want I therefore, have to have my leg on and hold her with my seat/ reins, having all my aids engaged means I more 'with' her if that makes sense?

I'm also great at throwing the reins at her if it goes wrong/ I panic, this isn't the best strategy mind!

This video shows our progression, first clip is from my first lesson with new trainer, we are not a partnership, Skylla isn't listening and I'm not 'riding' her to the fence. In the next session shown, we've worked a lot on her obedience to a fence (hence the stopping between fences to reset control), but you can see to the cross between the barrels at the end of the school, she still goes a little early but I'm not thrown about as much as I'm more engaged.

 

milliepops

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Echo GS. as well as the actual jumping stuff I think this partly stems from really a really good balanced seat on the flat in between fences, and a good connection with the horse. That makes it easier to feel those odd things that happen almost before they start to happen, and either predict/anticipate the action needed to stay with the horse, or to correct them so the horse stays straight, stays on the right stride, whatever.
 

TPO

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Lunge lessons, work with no stirrups and/or no reins.

Need to develop a secure independent seat on the flat in all gaits first. The independent seat will mean that your (generic you) legs can remain in the correct position and take the weight down and absorb the movement without swinging and your hands/arms move independently to follow the neck and mouth whilst retaining contact and correct rein length.

Repeat with 2 point position and work on giving and retaking reins whilst holding the position.

Same again over poles and work on timing of jump position

Then small fences and grids.

Work off the horse on those big yoga balls, core strength work and balance work (bosu balls and wobble board type things)
 

tallyho!

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You also need to work your horses on the flat in jumping position .
This increases your strength and poise and makes you more effective at gets the right canter out of the horses .
Yes this is what I was getting at above - the long winded way! Completely agree with GS.
 

Ambers Echo

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When you get the uncomfortable feeling approaching fence it’s hands down two inches feet forward two inches shoulder back two inches .
This is advice was given to me years ago and it’s simple and it works .
I'm more often behind than ahead though I can be both. So I'm not sure how feet forward shoulders back would help. I think part of the problem is Amber is a very extravagant jumper who took strodes out all the time so I learnt to ride defensively and it is a hard habit to break.
 

tallyho!

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I'm more often behind than ahead though I can be both. So I'm not sure how feet forward shoulders back would help. I think part of the problem is Amber is a very extravagant jumper who took strodes out all the time so I learnt to ride defensively and it is a hard habit to break.
Ooh I completely forgot about the cavaletti - did loads of grid work in 2-point. Hurt like hell but worth it.
 

HufflyPuffly

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I'm more often behind than ahead though I can be both. So I'm not sure how feet forward shoulders back would help. I think part of the problem is Amber is a very extravagant jumper who took strodes out all the time so I learnt to ride defensively and it is a hard habit to break.
I had a very defensive jump position too, the hands forward and down is a great tip though and really does work! Feet forward will just give you more security so you don't feel as unbalanced. I have been told to do the hands forward and down and feet forward by a few trainers and it has helped me :).
 

Nicnac

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Some really great advice here as have exactly the same problem AE. Also tense if I feel he's 'off' which makes it worse. I watch vids of friends' rounds who I think are really good riders and it's interesting to see how little they move whether jumping an established horse or a youngster who throws in some duff takeoffs. Relaxing seems to be the key and a strong enough core and stable position to absorb whatever is thrown - easier written than done!
 

Roxylola

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I'm about to try some grid work without stirrups to try and help myself with this very thing - I'm a default to upright if I feel unsafe too - not helped by supercob wanting to get deep to everything
 

milliepops

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It all comes back to that independent seat! How can just sitting on a bloody horse be so hard :rolleyes::p:p

I'm starting weekly lessons on schoolmasters and I've specifically said I want back to basics lessons. So one day I'll learn to ride.
it's the thing that never goes away and needs constant work I reckon ;) it's not just sitting on a horse tbf, it's sitting on a moving thing with its own brain, with your own body that has its own brain, and both of them do random things sometimes that no one is really in control of without a lot of practice, and then we try to do complicated things with those difficult bodies & brains on varying terrain... no wonder it is difficult really. There's a lot to keep on top of and it's also the least fun thing to improve. but also the thing that will improve everything else.
 

Ambers Echo

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Huffly puffy thanks for sharing that video. Yup I look more like clip 1 when Dolly goes early.

I do a lot of work in forward seat and a lot of stirrup free/rein free work to try and improve my seat. Unless something goes wrong it feels fine. So it's hard to train that reacting to the unexpected skill. ie the ability to very quickly engage core and stay with a movement that comes out of nowhere. I need to be able to sit spins, stops or run outs better too. But how do you practice those skills when they don't happen very often? Katie is ace at sitting bucks because of her shit of a Welsh pony (who we all loved really) but she can't sit run outs because Dolly rarely does them.
 

Goldenstar

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I'm more often behind than ahead though I can be both. So I'm not sure how feet forward shoulders back would help. I think part of the problem is Amber is a very extravagant jumper who took strodes out all the time so I learnt to ride defensively and it is a hard habit to break.
The two inches thing shifts you gently into the defensive position .
It’s shoulder back Feet forwards two inches and then stay still .
It’s taking control of your position and then leaving the horse to do it’s job .
Horses take strides out with riders that move .
 

milliepops

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Huffly puffy thanks for sharing that video. Yup I look more like clip 1 when Dolly goes early.

I do a lot of work in forward seat and a lot of stirrup free/rein free work to try and improve my seat. Unless something goes wrong it feels fine. So it's hard to train that reacting to the unexpected skill. ie the ability to very quickly engage core and stay with a movement that comes out of nowhere. I need to be able to sit spins, stops or run outs better too. But how do you practice those skills when they don't happen very often? Katie is ace at sitting bucks because of her shit of a Welsh pony (who we all loved really) but she can't sit run outs because Dolly rarely does them.
I think this is where work on the flat to really develop connection with the horse from leg to hand, feeling what is happening underneath you is key, because let's be honest quite often the unexpected things actually aren't that unexpected - you (one) can see them coming from the ground - horse not locked on, canter too long, horse losing balance, rider not holding their line and so on. there are cues coming to the rider, they might just not be picking up on them. Watch a SJ round (of lower level amateurs!) at a local show and you can see the horses almost preparing to run out, or take a bad stride or whatever before it happens.

Therefore, riding every round in proper connection with the horse means you are given the best chance of heading off those problems before they start, and also anticipating or *holy grail* changing the bad strides so that you avoid those horrible moments. add in a really strong adaptable position and you're onto a winner.
 

JFTDWS

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If I've seen the stride - no matter how wacky - we're OK. I can work with it. But if I don't see it, I just freeze and throw everything at the horse and hope for the best. Not ideal! But I do use a neckstrap so I don't sock anything in the mouth.

I've been trying to do more gridwork in two point to help, but no idea if it's helped yet!
 

JGC

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I'd wonder if you are looking at the fence? I'd try looking at a point way past the fence and at my eye level to get a similar effect to jumping with your eyes closed - you have enough peripheral vision to do this and it means that you are feeling what's going on under you and adjusting your balance, not making assumptions about where you're going to take off by how far you can see you are from the fence.

I was shown it with a XC trainer I had and I find it so useful. One time I was doing a clinic in a partly covered school. All going well, then I get three refusals at the second part of the double - turns out, as it was going towards a wall of the covered part of the school, I was looking at the second part of the double and therefore not going any further! Fourth time, I looked up at a high point on the wall - bingo, over easy peasy!
 

ycbm

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How short are you riding to jump now? In your last videos of jumping Amber I would have wanted you to put your stirrups up at least four holes. It makes it much easier to cope with the mistakes if your thigh is in front of you and your feet forward. One of the best things I was ever told was 'look at the fence with the soles of your boots'.
.
 

ycbm

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I'd wonder if you are looking at the fence? I'd try looking at a point way past the fence and at my eye level to get a similar effect to jumping with your eyes closed - you have enough peripheral vision to do this and it means that you are feeling what's going on under you and adjusting your balance, not making assumptions about where you're going to take off by how far you can see you are from the fence.

I was shown it with a XC trainer I had and I find it so useful. One time I was doing a clinic in a partly covered school. All going well, then I get three refusals at the second part of the double - turns out, as it was going towards a wall of the covered part of the school, I was looking at the second part of the double and therefore not going any further! Fourth time, I looked up at a high point on the wall - bingo, over easy peasy!
I second this, it also made a huge difference to my cross country riding.
.
 
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scats

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Little tip from my showjumping days that never failed me- if I was ever coming into a fence and I felt I wasn’t quite sure we were on the same wavelength where strides were concerned, I would lower my hands and place them lightly touching the base of her neck. I could then essentially feel from her movement when she was going to take off. Not quite sure how I sussed this out but it was a game changer! I knew if she was going to chip one in or stand off. I did, however, ride her on a fairly long rein so I’m not sure if it would work if you like to ride with a short contact.

I’ve just read that back and realise it probably sounds absolutely ridiculous but it worked for me!
 

LEC

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If she chips in you are going to be out of balance. That is quite a lot of force. You need to solve the problems that leads to it happening. There is no point working on your position to stay in balance when it happens, you need to work harder at stopping it from happening. This will be down to your canter. Whether its the quality or the rhythm.

So having been you: this would be my approach.
Watch Heidi Coy videos - she has a great jumping positions over a fence. Its too easy to watch people like Tim Price and Chris Burton but they are not easy to learn off. She had loads of videos and lots of different horses but a great way to breakdown what she does. She also makes mistakes so even better! The biggest thing for me has been thinking about my hips and not my shoulders. My lower leg has dramatically improved as I have shortened my stirrups and think about my hip position. Rather than shoulders back, I think hips forward.

Polework. You can spend hours getting your canter right with this and it puts no wear and tear on the horse. Lacking time then you need maybe 8 poles. 4 on a fan at top end of the arena. Pole to pole put around 5 strides apart and another two just off turns. Maybe 3/4 strides off a turn. Can you put 4/5/6/7 in the 5 strides? can you come round to the pole off the corner 10 times and hit it the same everytime. If you don't start again until you get to 10. Zero wear and tear for your horse but amazing work for your eye. Can you gallop round the arena - rebalance and come to the poles on the fan?

More polework - Can you come down to a pole and count yourself in from 5 strides away? Can you then do it from 7? what about 10? If you did this twice a week religiously you would shock yourself by how much you can improve your eye and make unconcious decisions.

Build skinnys at Cavaletti height - practice always looking at the next part of the combination. For more help with this look back at Ros Canter stuff as very much about eyes up and looking at next jump. I have found it so useful for combination jumps as the horse follows your eyesight which helps the canter which helps the jump.
 

DabDab

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If I've seen the stride - no matter how wacky - we're OK. I can work with it. But if I don't see it, I just freeze and throw everything at the horse and hope for the best. Not ideal! But I do use a neckstrap so I don't sock anything in the mouth.

I've been trying to do more gridwork in two point to help, but no idea if it's helped yet!
Out of interest, do you ever end up out of balance when you jump (ok I appreciate it's only a bunny hop off the floor) with a bow on your hands?
 

TheHairyOne

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I shall be attempting some of the suggestions already mentioned in here as I suffer horribly with trusting the 'long stride' and therefore getting left behind.

The chipping in isnt so much of a problem for me as I had a very clever small horse with no neck so learnt to wait for the take off as if there was a hint me of going first he wouldnt at all.

This however lead to the long stride becoming even harder to trust on my current beast.

I have got better with the slightly too long...but here is a pic showing exactly what happens when my brain disagrees that this is what we should be doing...
IMG-20200715-WA0028.jpg

My horse is a superstar and a saint though. Lucky me.
 
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