Pick Up Dem Knees

Ever since I first got Gus, I have lamented that he is not a “natural” jumper the way Dandy is. I’m not saying that he can’t jump, because he certainly can.

But he is not very good at it. Instead of naturally sitting back and keeping his haunches under him to push, he likes to throw his shoulders over and drag himself across the fence. This frustrates me because it’s not fun to ride and (obviously the most important) it looks ugly in pictures. I go through hundreds of photos trying to find just one semi decent picture of him jumping.

Jumping this way is also very dangerous which is the main reason I am trying so hard to teach Gus that this is not the appropriate way to jump.

Some of the problem has been me. With my confidence issues and bad equitation, I have been encouraging Gus to throw himself at the fences because I am throwing myself at the fence. Some of it is his own natural tendencies to be cautious which leads to hesitations at the base when his forward momentum is hard to stop. And some of it has just been that these smaller fences don’t really impress him.

It has not been an easy process. But thankfully I am now riding with Super Trainer, LT, and we are finally getting somewhere.

Last night’s lesson was the best Gus has ever jumped. The jumps were small (can’t remember the last time I wanted them raised!) and we focused on me compressing his stride and keeping his weight rocked back. When I did that, the shoulders stayed up. Granted, I’m at a place in my riding now where I can actually do that but it felt wonderful.

Gus will never ever be a hunter. He doesn’t snap up his knees as tight and cleanly as he should and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to solve that completely. At least now I can keep his shoulders up and with a lot of grid work, I think I can get the knees a bit tighter too. I don’t expect him to be an upper level prospect though so I’ll take safe and cautious and willing while we tool around BN.

7 thoughts on “Pick Up Dem Knees

  1. Idk I’ve kinda come to the conclusion by watching some of my friends bring along their horses that actually a lot about the horse’s jump form can be influenced and improved by purposeful practice and exercises. Looks like a fun lesson too!

  2. Frankie is another one in the not-a-naturally-good-jumper club! It’s only in the last few months that he’s actually started using his neck/back and picking up his feets. Lots of grids set to a short stride, and tons of time and energy from my trainers to encourage him using his body better. Sounds like the time and energy is paying off with Gus too!

    1. It’s actually kind of astounding how much can be fixed by the proper exercises. Makes me think about my own fitness as well.

  3. Hopefully continuing to work with LT will help build the right muscles to jump a bit more rocked back. But at least you’re headed in the right direction!

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