RISE TO THE CHALLENGE - Quick troubleshooting tips for challenges faced by both Rider and Horse in Dressage, Show Jumping and Cross Country.
Horse - Refusing or stopping.
There are a few reasons for this which is not always just because they are being naughty. Confidence in both horse and rider are major factors here, the rider must convey total assurance to the horse and in turn the horse must be fully prepared and sure in what is being asked. The approach to the fence is important, you are asking your horse to launch himself at an obstacle therefore ride in positively without aggression and keep a balanced rhythmic stride. A slip or stumble on the approach can easily put the horse off, do not pressure
Rider - Feeling insecure jumping a fence.
Practice the speed and approach over smaller obstacles to learn your horse stride and their shape over a fence. Progress gradually and allow the horse to jump underneath you whilst keeping a good centre of balance, this will stop you jumping the fence for the horse by leaning too far forward and also stop you becoming behind the stride by leaning too far back, both of which will be uncomfortable for the horse. Try shortening your stirrups slightly as this will allow your seat to stay more centrally balanced over the top of the fence.
Horse -Jumping a clear round.
First of all check you horses health, pain in the back or in any of the limbs may make the horse jump low and flat in order to get the other side as quickly as possible.
Over riding can also flatten the horses jumping style, try and keep your weight through your legs and keep your upper body weight over the horses' centre of gravity. Keep your head up and look forward, allowing your hands to move with natural movement of the horses head and neck. Restriction in this area will pull the horses head up and hollow the back and flatten the hind quarters.
Rider - Forgetting the course.
Nerves effect many riders at all levels however the golden rule is to use them as a positive not a negative. You must be focused and disciplined when walking the course, concentrate and be confident. After walking the first three fences, pause, close you eyes and ride them in your mind, move on and continue the same technique for the rest of the course. Take your time and stay focused to memorize the whole course and the stride distances you have measured.
Horse - Resisting going forward.
Horses that lack confidence often resist going forward as they are confused about what is being asked of them or that they find the demand is too difficult. Adjust the training, go back to simple steps which the horse finds easy and progress slower introducing lunge work to improve their confidence.
When being ridden, restriction through the reins is also a common fault. Trying to manipulate the horses' carriage with the reins and not through a strong seat will confuse the horse and make them uncomfortable.
Rider - Loose leg Contact
Riding with stirrups too long is often the cause for this along with tightness in the hips and seat. A very useful exercise to discover a natural seat and balance of the rider is to have a lunging lesson with their horse - without stirrups the rider will become more supple and move with the horses' natural pace. When the stirrups are reintroduced the rider should sit deeper in the saddle and therefore put the weight through the lower leg.
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