Finding the correct stride

TEmily

New Member
Oct 14, 2008
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Sheffield South Yorkshire
Hi!
Does anyone have any tips on how to improve by ability to place a horse correctly to a fence?
The horse I ride (Charlie) used to jump BSJA up to foxhunter 1.20m and had a very good jockey who always places her horses perfectly to every fence.
Charlie is 19 now and semi-retired but still really talented and I get to ride a brilliant schoolmaster! She's very responsive and will shorten and lengthen her stride as you ask. The problem is she is used to a rider who asks her to change her stride in order to find the perfect take-off point - but I'm rubbish at spotting this!
It isn't really an issue with smaller fences as she has enough scope to clear them from a bad stride - but we're now progressing to 1m classes and I've had a few hairy moments and even a couple of stops (she never stops!) because we've been on a really bad stride to a big parallel and I've lost my confidence and stopped riding her forward because I just can't see how she will clear it.
I could do with some schooling exercises or just hints and tips to help me to see my stride better and from further away - at the moment by the time I can tell what kind of stride I'm on its too late to do anything about it!
 

Iron Maiden

Koumpounophobic?
Sep 14, 2006
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I prefer a horse that sorts itself out - far easier to ride! But in your position I'd do lots of practice using canter poles, you can practice seeing a stride into a single pole or put two down & practice shortening/lengthening strides between them :)
 

NoviceNic

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She is loosing her stride because she senses you have lost your confidence. My horse is the same. Have you tried tying the reins up round her neck and jumping with no hands?? Its the best thing i have ever experienced. It gives the horse the opportunity to sort their own stride out. Without the confusion from the riders aids... :)
 

Iron Maiden

Koumpounophobic?
Sep 14, 2006
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I'd not be so sure, some riders do train their horses to more or less await instruction before they take off, so if you sit quiet on a 50/50 stride they go :confused: and make a mess of the fence. If you can consistently see a stride far enough out to make any adjustments needed it won't be a problem, but if you can't, it's not a great feeling to ride a horse trained to jump this way. They tend not to get you out of trouble if you get it wrong, so sometimes things can get a bit :eek: Loose jumping or hunting might help get the horse thinking for itself, but I wouldn't expect miracles.
 

DavidH

BSJA-Big Scarey Jump Asso
Apr 16, 2000
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Some interesting points raised.
My take on this from experience of riding a pros horse.
1) No rider ever gets it right all the time so dont worry about being able to.
2) professionally trained horses will sort themselves out if allowed to. The problem comes due to them being trained to listen and respond to the rider on approach. Take off point is controlled through apporach speed and length of stride. Short bouncy canter to get closer to fence before take off, longer more forward stride to stand off a bit more. However, if the rider fiddles on approach and does not allow the horse freedom to correct on the last stride or two then problems start as horse (and rider) cant judge the takeoff point.
The more trained a horse is the more of a problem this can become.
3) 1mtr may seem big to the rider but for a horse used to jumping 1.20mtr tracks it is tiny. Most horses can clear a 1mtr fence from pretty much any position if allowed to. I'm guessing that this height is more of a issue to you making you think you need to 'set up' more. You dont ;) Just get a good forward canter, keep the rythm, dont fiddle on approach trying to see a stride and the horse will be fine. The bigger the jumps get the more the rider has to trust the horse to do its job which is to jump the fence. So relax, stop worring about over riding the horse and just focus on a consistent rythm to the fence.
This vid is of a 1mtr BSJA course on a very green horse. Note how many different takeoff points there are in the round yet the horse manages fine.
 

STEFF79

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Mar 14, 2008
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David is right no one can place their horse accuratly 100% of the time.. concentrate on your canter rythem even strides if you have a good canter most horses will be able to sort themselves out remember the last 3 strides are your horses be committed to go on what you have!!
my last horse was ridden by a very good young rider as a novice and was very accuratly ridden but never really learnt what to do if the rider does get it wrong hence why I don't have him anymore fed up with sitting on the floor!! Now is ridden by a girl I know who is very accurate but when she does get it wrong is very determind.. he does stop with her but she's now out winning with him.. And I now have a 6 year old who's far more honest and brave then he ever was and the good thing about her is I just keep my rythem and she finds a stride for you.. when you do miss she pounds off the floor to help you and in fact if feels like you didn't miss at all!!
 

TEmily

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Oct 14, 2008
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Sheffield South Yorkshire
Thanks for that guys!
I think the main problem is my confidence - when I'm on a bit of a dodgy stride I panic and take my leg off. Charlie is very clever and will sort herself out of she's going forward - she knows when to put a short one in or go off a long stride. But when I just sit there and go all useless she doesn't know what to do.
I also think DavidH that you're right about me over-riding the approach - I've done some doubles cross country with Charlie and we were chasing the horse in front so I wasn't trying to check her before the fences and she got a perfect take-off point for every one!

I will try to sit still a bit more!
 

TEmily

New Member
Oct 14, 2008
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Sheffield South Yorkshire
p.s. NoviceNic - I would never dare jump Charlie with no hands! We don't have a fenced surface just ride in the paddock. She is quite sharp and I would probably end up in the next field!
 
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