“My horse puts in a very short stride in front of jumps and ends up too close to the fence. How do I stop this from happening?”
Does this sound familiar to you? Do you watch other peoples rounds and think it looks so effortless and rhythmical – and yet yours doesn’t? If that is the case, then worry no more, as Selwood Equine have got some great exercises and answers below to help you with your show jumping woes.
Working over poles is a great way to develop your horses balance, rhythm and co-ordination. They are also a great way to establish consistency and correctness in the horses stride. They encourage plenty of energy and flexion from the horses hind quarters as well as adding an element of interest for the horse in the training session. If you can spend time working over poles on the flat to improve rhythm first, then your jumping work will benefit too.
Using canter poles in front of a fence can offset the problem of chipping an extra stride in. Plus for the rider, using the poles to ride consistently and positively towards the fence, means you are more likely to maintain the aids correctly rather than drop the leg off.
International show jumper Trevor Breen advises….”Firstly start with one pole three yards from the fence and approach in trot so she must go over this pole also meaning that there is a defined take off point for her. As she gets more confident on the exercise, canter to the same exercise and eventually add more canter poles each one three yards away from the other. Build this exercise gradually to build confidence and to train the horse as well. As the horse gets more confident lengthen each pole to three and a half yards distance each”.
The long and short of it all
If your horse tends to pop in an extra stride, you need to work on being able to lengthen, as well as shorten your horses strides and this again, starts on the flat.
Try the ‘related distance’ ground pole exercise – two poles on the ground with a minimum of 5 of your horses strides between them. Play around with the canter strides between the poles, shortening to fit more in and lengthening to fit less in. Ride positively and with a good quality canter to make the adjustments to the strides.
Have a strong canter
When approaching a fence on a horse that adds a stride in, it’s important to make sure you have a good quality canter around your turn, keep your leg on at all times. This means right up to the base of the fence to avoid your horse dropping behind your leg and ‘chipping one in’ at the last minute. It’s also vital to remember upon landing, to ride forward in your related distances. Keep a balanced secure position and ride forwards from your leg maintaining straightness and accuracy.
The more you cover the distance early on, the less likely you are to leave a big gap in front of the next element, allowing your horse to put in another stride. You need to ride forwards positively at all times.
Try working through these exercises above to improve your stride and approach to a fence and eliminate the chipped in extra stride for a flowing fault free round!