For those who love jumping...

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Awww.....jump designs 1 Reply

Started by Ashley. Last reply by Donald Redux Feb 21, 2009.

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Comment by MustangLover on March 24, 2009 at 5:20pm
Yeah I ride him over the jumps, usually I'd would watch him free jump, to see how he approachs a jump...But I no longer have a round pen/exersice pen I can't do that...So I'm really going to miss watching Darlin free jump (group photo)...But to be honest I was actually a little scared, I never was on a horse that jumped that high before...Last time it came even close, I chickened out at the last moment...But I aimed montana towards the jump, and he jumped...And also usually all I have to do is aim montana towards a jump, and he jumps it...Hasn't really refused yet...But I'll have to try some of those ideas that you gave, I know montana loves the challenged and so am I...Montana is catching on fast with the jumping...It took me twice as long to get him to do poles and barrels...but he never seemed to enjoy it...
I'll keep you posted on how he's doing...
Comment by Donald Redux on March 23, 2009 at 9:57pm
Boy, this head cold has really got me muddled headed. Bad typo in the last post.

I'll repeat it with the error corrected in Italic:

Opps! I see I missed a technical point on Oxers. Make the nearest rail lower than the further one. Three rail oxers solve this by making the middle one higher than the two outside, but at first, until the horse gets the idea of the spread, don't use three rail oxers, just two.
Comment by Donald Redux on March 23, 2009 at 9:41pm
Opps! I see I missed a technical point on Oxers. Make the nearest rail lower than the further one. The rail oxers solve this by making the middle one higher than the two outside, but at first, until the horse gets the idea of the spread, don't use three rail oxers, just two.

Comment by Donald Redux on March 23, 2009 at 9:30pm
There are lots of ways to challenge in training for jumping that will interest the horse without over facing him. Refusals, if they come often enough, can result in the horse learning to balk at the obstacle, so keep your heights low, and look for complexity and width.

You might want to set up Oxers. That is two or more jump rails close to gether over a spread of say 18" to start with, and up to three or four feet spread, but no higher than 2 ft at first, It's a great way to create bold longer jumps that begin requiring a bit more speed on approach.

Small ditches serve the same purpose, and if you can find on that has different width you don't have to get off and move anything to ask for bigger jumps.

Another challenge is to set up combinations, but those should be low too and not too close at first. Give at least 25 feet between any two jumps to be cleared in one run. Later you can put them a bit closer together and see how he figures out his stride and pacing.

Are you riding him over the jumps?

Do you have a way to put him over on a line?

Set a pole up from the ground to the top of the standard to lift your line over the jump easily. Last thing one wants to do is deliver a jerk to a horse's head as he jumps or right after he lands.

This sounds exciting. Please keep us posted on what is happening.

Comment by MustangLover on March 22, 2009 at 7:15pm
Update on montana for you...
Montana is doing an awesome job on jumping, he's jumping higher then he was like when he first started out...Today montana jumped like a 2 foot jump, he's jumping higher then my mom's mare already :)
I also found out that I have to keep challenging him, bcuz otherwise he'll get bored...But he's doing amazing :)
Comment by Donald Redux on March 12, 2009 at 10:49am
ridendurance wrote: "I am not sure I can measure the strides as I do not have access to an arena."

Two small beanbags, real heavy stuffing. Learn to identify a particular footfall, and drop one at two sequential footfalls of that foot. If you time it exact while they may not fall at precisely where the hoof hit the ground, they will be precisely one stride apart.

Easy at the trot, a bit harder at the walk, and more difficult at the canter, but it can be done.

I wonder sometimes if the quality of one's riding isn't very closely connected to one's physical condition. Then again, at my age I'm not going to quibble.

I know I'm not ever jumping again, but I have the saddle, I have the hard hat, and I have the heart. And I'm in very good physical shape FOR MY AGE.

So who knows. I guess I could go ahead and do the training regimen I used to teach and see if my body would train up to the level that I required from my students before I let them ride to jumps.

And if I can't reach that level just grow up and get real about my age and abilities.

As for you, take it easy and talk with me as you continue and we'll try charting your ability to see if I'd even suggest you DO jump. And of course keep that open mind. Who knows what's possible otherwise?

Comment by Becky (ridendurance) on March 10, 2009 at 9:49pm
Thanks Donald for a very informative and insightful post. I will do my best to locate this book and continue to enjoy the fun of pursuing something new to learn about. I am not sure I can measure the strides as I do not have access to an arena. I ride mainly in the open field by the house where I have relatively good footing and level ground but it is grass. I will copy your instructions for further reference in case I get a chance to use an arena sometime this summer. I am truly enjoying your years of teaching knowledge and very clear instructions. Wish I had the opportunity to benefit from it at a younger age and better fitness level. My worst enemy now is a less than supple body but my best friend is a very open mind.
Comment by Donald Redux on March 10, 2009 at 12:34pm
No, I cannot tell you a good very basic book on jumping. Why?

Because there are two factors that prohibit it. One is that there are fads that authors can write to and sell a lot of books, and they do, and everybody just swears by them ... while I swear at them.

Jumping has become the tinker toy of too many and a dumping ground for "ideas," that too often are not based on sound bio-mechanics of either horse or rider. Why this departure from the carefully established principles that by centuries of trial and error resulted in the forward or hunt seat over jumps?

Humans will tinker. Bring us to the critical events that changed rider to jumps for the better and other than refinement should still be the standard for today. Not only because of it's showring and field (Hunting) success, but because it is safer for rider, and horse, and makes for bold horses that learn to take care of themselves and think their way through their jumps. So here then is that second thing I mentioned:

Around the time I was born a new way of riding to jumps was introduced that should still be taught ... and here and there it is. The less experimental froofraw the better.

Capt Fredrico Caprilli, an Italian Cavalry officer developed what is now referred to as the forward or hunt seat. In trying to determine how he came to this genius of analysis and then applied bio mechanics all I can figure out is that he took advantage of the relatively new technology of moving pictures.

And especially slow motion to study the horse's movement. And what took place at different points on approach, take off, over the jump, landing, and departure from the jump. How he must have worked.

And what he saw told him plainly that the style of jumping in his day was a painful punishing and dangerous way of treating the horse.

To this very day the argument goes one about the best way to take jumps, and a school of jumping has come up that is gone very bad in some ways.

I cannot, except from the proper time frame, suggest any books to you.
And that is the time of Caprilli and those that followed and learned from him and carried his principles into the field and into competitive jumping.
You must make a choice, not follow a fad.

Some will loudly claim that "we have moved on from that old way," when in fact the Old Way called hunter jumper seat as Caprilli taught it and brought it finally to the U.S. is still the new way. Still not well understood, yet elegant in it's clear understanding of bio-dynamics of both horse and rider.

In fact the American jumping style because the standard others sought because of it's success and the wonderful horses that came out of it.

Look at the discussion in this forum, where top riders are debating the merits of the hunt seat, how it was taught to the military (correctly after them witnessing the Caprilli taught Italian officer Olympic team sweep their events in the 30's Olympics), how it has been degenerating under the influence of the showring, where clean rounds are the winners, versus correct riding.

So, with that said, and the caveat that I may well be wrong too much frivolous change and that some are still teaching methods that came out of Caprilli's work, I'll offer you only one book to read.

It is by a Russian cavalry officer, contemporary to Caprilli. And he witnessed the introduction to the forward or hunt seat at the Olympics back in the thirties and it changed his own way of riding forever.

Vladimir Littauer, a man of great good humor, kindness to horses, and himself modest in speaking of his accomplishments.

Littauer is about as basic as it gets. And after Caprilli one of the first to publish such information. This isn't the earliest edition of his books, and in fact the last printing was two years after I completely left the horseworld and a twenty plus year career in it. Littauer's work, to me, was what all people riding to the field and riding to the jumps in the showring should be aspiring to. Sadly at that time, the sixties, many were still pounding their horses, yanking their faces, collapsing the horse's back, and otherwise punishing rather than being the lightest burden possibly to the horse.

This latter principle is what makes for the boldest and most willing horse.

Go gently. The horse that balks or runs out needs to be taken gently a step back to whatever it was they did willingly. And the trainer, you, needs to examine how that went for the horse.

Often checking your own seat; that is hands, balance, leg position, suppleness at the joint so your body opens and closes with the thrust and impacts that come from the horse in a pattern you can learn.

Study sequence photographs. Those that show bad jumping as well as good. The latter will often tip you off to the interference you brought to your horse that caused the bobble, the crash, the run out, the balk refusal.

Why am I going on like this for so long before answering your question?

Because part of your question tells me you might be more serious about this matter of learning to jump well than I at first thought. That part was your request for information on correctly spacing Cavaletti.

They are a serious training tool for the rider and the horse.

And the best I can tell about how to space them is to NOT use any formula you see out there related to height of horse x = distance apart Y. They do not work.

It's the stride, not the size of the horse that is the key.

Is there a formula?


Rake or drag a large enough area where you ride that you have a clean smooth field to lay down your tracks.

Pick a point across from you and ride (don't walk in hand) your horse straight to it. Move over a few yards, turn back, and do the same thing by picking a point across from you and trotting it. Then do the same for a canter. Not a slow western canter but an English equitation canter. Medium stride with a bit of impulsion.

You now have your caveletti distance measurements.

Put your horse up, take tape, pad and pencil and go mark the distance between strides as you created, not guessed at, or tried to puzzle out by a lot of formula nonsense. (Hint: your horse likely will give you the best overall distance from his marks at the center of each run across your smooth field).

How hard is it to do this? Very hard because you have to figure out which hoof print is made by which hoof. And you have four to look at.

This is a great way to start, if you have not already been taught, how to identify individual footfalls and isolate them. Very helpful in the future when you are better at jumping and want to refine your understanding of a performance of the horse under you. Priceless when it comes to identifying problems.

Now for the cheat. Yes, just like in electronic gaming, if you know how to find another way of doing something your score goes up.

Picking out which hoof is which is the problem. The solution? Mark one.

If your horse will wear a boot, put one on one foot to do the measurement sets.

Then there is the Red Green solution. Use Duct tape and close off the bottom of the horse's hoof for just this small exercise. One hoof, mind you.

Now you can find the stride rather easily.

Are we going in a direction you wish to explore?

If you find that book by Littauer when you get to the section on "seat," I'd enjoy discussing it with you and explaining any questions you have about how it works, what it feels like (I've thousands of hours in hunt seat), and what simple gymnastics stretching it takes to help your body learn to do it well.

Cavaletti work is wonderful for developing the balance and control (so your body parts will move when and where you wish) and teach you the feeling of the angles of your body, from ankle to hip opening and closing with the horse's thrust and impact.

Once you have enough hours of work at the trot, and you'll need about 20 at least, then doing small hops over Cavaletti or jumps at the canter can commence. This is where you will learn to follow the horses mouth with the reins.

The most fun comes when you are doing Cavaletti with no reins at all, and arms outstretched sideways.

Anyway, we will get to that when we get to it. Keep me posted.

Comment by Becky (ridendurance) on March 8, 2009 at 7:29pm
Could you tell me a good VERY basic book on jumping. I would like to be able to know things like how to space my cavaletti poles and the how to help my horse and I have confidence going over very small jumps.
Comment by Donald Redux on March 4, 2009 at 6:16am
Hi Montana Blue,

Assuming you've had time to look over my post on building a hunt seat do you have any questions so far?


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