Bit Suggestions for TB that Hunts the Fences

Yes, I know, another bit thread - bear with me. I need bit suggestions for my ultra sensitive Thoroughbred mare.

We flat in a loose ring snaffle, and she’s great - soft, round, balanced, very light in my hands. She halts when I sit into the saddle and exhale. When we jump, she’s compact and very handy - turns on a dime, and I only have to look at the next fence for her to rollback. If she knows we’re immediately turning, she’s forced to stay light in the bridle and balance herself.

The issue is, as soon as she knows what we’re jumping next, I lose my brakes. She’s like a honing missile to jumps. It’s the worst in a straight (or even slightly bending) line, whether one stride or eight strides between. She pulls down and drags me in the lines. I’m riding with my hands fairly high, but it’s hard to pick up my hands (and pick her up off my hands) when we land off a jump. She doesn’t get faster, just stronger - she’ll back herself off before we get to the jump to find her own distance.

I’ve tried jumping one then halting and she it easily. It’s as soon as I look at the next fence… and then if/when we put it all together for a course (especially one without a lot of sharp turns) that she tunes me out.

She’s currently in a full cheek corkscrew. She was in a tom thumb jointed pelham (with two reins) for a long time, but the curb chain/rein is now too much and she backs off my hands too much.

I do like her to take me to the jump (I do appreciate her enthusiasm for jumping), just not drag me before/after it, haha. Trainer suggested trying a waterford or a snaffle with a port next, but can someone enlighten me on the mechanics of how those bits work? Any other suggestions?

From what you’ve imparted it doesn’t sound like a bit problem - it sounds like an anxiety/green problem - horse rushes to the jump to get it over with and done.

IME the best antidote for a rusher is to set a jump that’s big enough that they respect and want to rush to it (2’6" usually will do) and just jump it on a circle over and over again… ad infinitum. Especially if they’ve figured out the whole “halt after the fence” routine, which some horses are clever enough to do. Don’t fight them to the fence and let the fence come up to you. Until the anxiety or anticipation wears off and the fence just becomes “ho-hum”.

Then once you are able to rate the canter in between and over the fence on the circle, add a second jump on the circle… Just jump it and develop a tempo and think ‘regulate’ but not interfere.

Alternatively, you can do grid-work but IME that’s more for a horse that isn’t already “looking” for the next fence.

Hmm, the jumping on a circle is a good idea. She’s not truly green anymore - we’ve been doing the 2’9"-3’ jumpers for a year now (after spending a year in the 2’6" jumpers and the year before that in the 2’3" hunters). It’s not so much on the approach that she rushes, but upon landing.

How big of a circle would you suggest? Smaller to keep her from leaning on her shoulder and give her less time to build when we land? Or bigger to give her time to forget that we’re jumping and relax?

I know I probably also have a position issue here somewhere - she must be taking advantage of my lack of timing - either sitting up too early or too late upon landing. As the fences change in height and width, I’m having issues figuring out when to sit up upon landing.

You’re right about gridwork - every time we do it, we come in nice and quiet, but she’s galloping away from me (even if they’re set short) when we come off the last jump.

If she is running away after the fence, have you considered it might be something physical? Just to dot your I’s and cross your T’s - saddle fit and chiro have been done?

If she is rushing AFTER the fence, the better thing to do is to come to a stop. Make a game of it - see if you can stop 3 strides after, next time see if you can stop 10 strides after without changing the rhythm. Keep the point you stop different, but never let the rhythm get faster than the speed you want. You can place canter poles after the fence to keep her from getting strung out, but prepare to have her trip over it the first time if she is really rushing.

For the circle exercise, I usually do a 25-35m circle. I want it big enough it isn’t going to hurt them to do the exercise repeatedly, but small enough that they don’t “zone out” in between each representation of the fence.

pulling after the jump usually tells me it is a balance, not a tack issue.
Are you sitting up after the jumps? Not going back into a half seat, I mean truly sitting your bum down, and halfhalting? And when you ask her to slow down, do you pull evenly with both reins, or ask with your one rein first? Make sure you use one rein first, than add the other (don’t seesaw, one rein then add the other to the halfhalt. If no response, ease the pressure and do it again, sharper this time) to make sure you don’t get into a tug of war.

She’s seen the chiropractor and the massage therapist within the last two months and both said she looked good.

Oh saddle issues! I’ve been through saddle fitting hell. I had a Frank Baines Reflex specifically fit to her (had a non-brand rep come out and she chose this saddle for us) and after two years of having it re-flocked every 3-4 months, I finally gave up on it. The cantle constantly lifted off her back at the trot, canter, and when we jumped. I stopped riding in it four months ago and borrowed a friend’s Devoucoux while waiting for my new saddle. My issue now is probably a lingering training issue from the poor fit. We’re now in a custom Loxley by Bliss, which I’ve had for about a month or two.

From the poor Frank Baines fit (At one point, the fitter over-flocked/put more flocking in the left side than the right side), my mare now has slightly less muscle on the left side right behind her shoulder/below her withers than on the right. So, I’m also in search of exercises to help even her out. Need suggestions and ideas for that, too, lol!

I do sit up after the jumps, but either too soon or not soon enough. Timing is so tricky when she’s so sensitive to any shift in my balance. I pull back and up with my inside rein and then back and out with my outside rein to try to lift her off her inside shoulder. I also apply inside leg. It takes at least 4-5 strides before I get a response.

I’ve had good luck with the waterford!

What do you mean by sensitive? How does she respond if you sit up too soon, or too late? Bucking, ear pinning? I would think that if she is sensitive to your shifting balance, you would have the opposite reaction than pulling after jumps. She may have your number :slight_smile:

I’ve also had luck with setting up a six stride line and halting in between and quietly trotting or cantering out. It might be ugly the first few tries but has helped a lot. Then sneak in going all the way through, halt and hop off.

A Waterford has helped before. It’s so loose that they can’t really bare on it. I think if you do the above excercise it will help more, not that I’m apposed to changing bits.

Have you tried a landing pole on landing side of jump, and then another pole about 3 strides from that? Tends to make them rock back a little and balance.

Maybe responsive is a better description than sensitive. She rocks onto her haunches if I sit up; if I lean forward, she leans on her shoulder. If I turn my head, she turns. I barely have to steer with my reins. If I sit up and down into the saddle and exhale/sigh really loudly, she down transitions.

No bucking, rearing, or tail swishing. If I sit up too soon, there’s a little head toss and then she trucks on. If I sit up too late, she pulls me down and gallops. She 100% has my number!

Balance issue

Not to hijack, but WOW this is my problem exactly! My TB isn’t such a rusher to the jump, but as soon as he lands, it’s off to the races and I am pretty ineffective at slowing him down without a tug of war and/or increasingly smaller circles. Definitely going to incorporate all suggestions here–I know I need to sit down (up…) more immediately after landing, I had been in two point trying to force him back with my upper body, and that clearly wasn’t working… I will definitely jump on a circle, and I like the idea of a landing pole a few strides after the first one.

StormyDay, I want to zero in on what you said about balance, because I have eliminated (several times over) any health issue (saddle fit, massage, chiro, teeth…). So how does a lack of balance mess with them after the jump? (Stupid question?) And, more importantly, what can we do to fix it?

Thank you!!

[QUOTE=GrayTBJumper;8855006]Maybe responsive is a better description than sensitive. She rocks onto her haunches if I sit up; if I lean forward, she leans on her shoulder. If I turn my head, she turns. I barely have to steer with my reins. If I sit up and down into the saddle and exhale/sigh really loudly, she down transitions.

No bucking, rearing, or tail swishing. If I sit up too soon, there’s a little head toss and then she trucks on. If I sit up too late, she pulls me down and gallops. She 100% has my number![/QUOTE]

Sounds like maybe you have solved your own problem- sit up high after the jumps. When she decides to break to the trot, add leg! I think you just need to do this from now on.
If she acts like a freight train even when you sit up, then that is a different problem.

[QUOTE=LearningBearWithMe;8855118]Not to hijack, but WOW this is my problem exactly! My TB isn’t such a rusher to the jump, but as soon as he lands, it’s off to the races and I am pretty ineffective at slowing him down without a tug of war and/or increasingly smaller circles. Definitely going to incorporate all suggestions here–I know I need to sit down (up…) more immediately after landing, I had been in two point trying to force him back with my upper body, and that clearly wasn’t working… I will definitely jump on a circle, and I like the idea of a landing pole a few strides after the first one.

StormyDay, I want to zero in on what you said about balance, because I have eliminated (several times over) any health issue (saddle fit, massage, chiro, teeth…). So how does a lack of balance mess with them after the jump? (Stupid question?) And, more importantly, what can we do to fix it?

Thank you!![/QUOTE]

I so often see horses on the forehand after the jump. Part of this can be from the jump itself ( if the horse is green, it may not use itself well over the jump, which effects the landing. Better jumping will come with time) but I always expect my horses to come back and get off their forehand after the jump, no matter the age.
The best thing you can do is really sit up, butt on the saddle, and it may almost feel like you are leaning backwards. Your horse mimics you, so if you are leaning forward, so will he. Have someone watch you, since so often we think we are sitting up straight but we actually are still bent forward. For some horses that is enough to slow themselves down and get off that forehand. If it is not enough, then you need to do a half halt, or for even worse cases when the horse doesn’t listen to the half halt, a complete halt after the jump. If the horses face is between its legs, I usually raise my hands to get the face to come up, and then I ask for a complete halt. Do not pull back with both reins at the same time, that’s how you get into a tug of war. Use one, then add the other.
the other exercises are great, but perfect practice makes perfect, so don’t just let your horse get on the forehand with that exercises too! :slight_smile:

[QUOTE=GrayTBJumper;8855006]Maybe responsive is a better description than sensitive. She rocks onto her haunches if I sit up; if I lean forward, she leans on her shoulder. If I turn my head, she turns. I barely have to steer with my reins. If I sit up and down into the saddle and exhale/sigh really loudly, she down transitions.

No bucking, rearing, or tail swishing. If I sit up too soon, there’s a little head toss and then she trucks on. If I sit up too late, she pulls me down and gallops. She 100% has my number![/QUOTE]

Thats a rider problem with you on landing, need to look at your flatwork…and do more of that and less jumping. The '“run and be done” style is best dealt with by half halts a couple of strides after landing or within lines, rather sophisticated rider skill but helps the heck out of speeders.

Check her hocks too…like with a X ray, not a look see. They don’t limp but they do want to get jumping over with ASAP.

[QUOTE=StormyDay;8855316]I so often see horses on the forehand after the jump. Part of this can be from the jump itself ( if the horse is green, it may not use itself well over the jump, which effects the landing. Better jumping will come with time) but I always expect my horses to come back and get off their forehand after the jump, no matter the age.
The best thing you can do is really sit up, butt on the saddle, and it may almost feel like you are leaning backwards. Your horse mimics you, so if you are leaning forward, so will he. Have someone watch you, since so often we think we are sitting up straight but we actually are still bent forward. For some horses that is enough to slow themselves down and get off that forehand. If it is not enough, then you need to do a half halt, or for even worse cases when the horse doesn’t listen to the half halt, a complete halt after the jump. If the horses face is between its legs, I usually raise my hands to get the face to come up, and then I ask for a complete halt. Do not pull back with both reins at the same time, that’s how you get into a tug of war. Use one, then add the other.
the other exercises are great, but perfect practice makes perfect, so don’t just let your horse get on the forehand with that exercises too! :)[/QUOTE]

Thank you! So helpful!

Landing poles and halting in between lines are great ideas - will add to my homework to work on. I’ll also have her hocks checked; she does have some arthritis there, so that’s a good thought.

Yes, my issue is sitting up after jumps and the timing that goes into it. Also, it’s hard to sit up when she’s already pulling me down as we land - maybe I need core strengthening exercises or …?

Videos for reference are from my failed attempt to turn her back into a hunter briefly for the Take2 division in May. We were in the Frank Baines saddle and pelham. We’re back in the jumper ring now, and still dealing with my position/her leaning issues:
Flatting w/o leaning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6wmJD4FBXU
Jumping and dragging me through the corners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uolr4vBzbsM

From last month, first time jumping in the new custom saddle and first time jumping 3’ since that May show. I tried to circle to lift her, with so-so results: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inLnrIM1cf0

She definitely builds on course. By the end of the round you were going much faster than you want on a hunter course. After every jump at home, you need to really sit up. Butt to that saddle, it should feel like you are leaning back! If no immediate response to that, lift your hands up to bring her face up, and ask her to come to a complete halt.
She is unbalanced, even in the flat class. She should be able to go from canter to walk with one or two trot steps, or better, none at all. Her legs kind of go everywhere when she does that transition. I would do a lot of walk to canter and canter to walk transitions with her, and they should be smooth and balanced. She should not ‘scramble’ when stopping.
Now, In both videos you sit down too early over the jump and hit her in the back when she is still in the air. You need to focus when jumping on keeping that butt up and out of the saddle until she is on the other side. You may have to over exaggerate this until it is more natural to you by staying up until the back legs are on the ground. At first, this is not going to help her building and pulling. But what you have to understand is that when you sit down too early, you restrict your release when she still needs it. To her, you are initiating the tug of war, which is probably one of the reasons she builds. She has learned to ignore your pulling, because over the jump it doesn’t mean anything. Your trainer may or may not like this new position, it depends on the hunter trainer :slight_smile:
Lastly, when doing a circle to get her more balanced, sit up, and try not to lean. Put more weight in that outside leg so you don’t lean in, and sit up! Your horse mimics your body.
I should also add, any type of excersize to balance her will help a lot! Do Balancing exercises between the jumps at home. Walk to canter, canter to walk, side passes to the wall, shoulder in, haunches in, turn on the hindquarters, etc.

[QUOTE=StormyDay;8855920]She definitely builds on course. By the end of the round you were going much faster than you want on a hunter course. After every jump at home, you need to really sit up. Butt to that saddle, it should feel like you are leaning back! If no immediate response to that, lift your hands up to bring her face up, and ask her to come to a complete halt.
She is unbalanced, even in the flat class. She should be able to go from canter to walk with one or two trot steps, or better, none at all. Her legs kind of go everywhere when she does that transition. I would do a lot of walk to canter and canter to walk transitions with her, and they should be smooth and balanced. She should not ‘scramble’ when stopping.
Now, In both videos you sit down too early over the jump and hit her in the back when she is still in the air. You need to focus when jumping on keeping that butt up and out of the saddle until she is on the other side. You may have to over exaggerate this until it is more natural to you by staying up until the back legs are on the ground. At first, this is not going to help her building and pulling. But what you have to understand is that when you sit down too early, you restrict your release when she still needs it. To her, you are initiating the tug of war, which is probably one of the reasons she builds. She has learned to ignore your pulling, because over the jump it doesn’t mean anything. Your trainer may or may not like this new position, it depends on the hunter trainer :slight_smile:
Lastly, when doing a circle to get her more balanced, sit up, and try not to lean. Put more weight in that outside leg so you don’t lean in, and sit up! Your horse mimics your body.
I should also add, any type of excersize to balance her will help a lot! Do Balancing exercises between the jumps at home. Walk to canter, canter to walk, side passes to the wall, shoulder in, haunches in, turn on the hindquarters, etc.[/QUOTE]

Very good assessment. The lack of release was pretty noticable.