Cantering sideways before jumps

Hi, my 16 year old TB has a really annoying habit of sometimes on xcountry when we have a long approach swinging his butt to the right and trying to canter sideways to the jump (and these are well within his ability- we jump much higher at home/schooling). We are doing Novice which is well within his ability, he has done Prelim in the past. Has anybody else experienced anything like this? I’m trying to figure out whether it is related to a physical issue or a mental issue. Could it be a sign of pain? (he has had some hock arthritis according to the vet and he has old osselets but he is on yearly hock injections and adequan) Or do you think it’s related to his past- he was brought to Prelim very quickly after being taken off the track with very little training and his past owner admitted to the fact that he did not do enough conditioning with the horse at all so cross-country at Prelim was a real struggle. Other facts- he never out right refuses- he does occasionally run out. No ear-pinning or switching of leads or other signs of pain although he does sometimes charge the jumps and land unbalanced. Lastly- he did something similar with his old owner, and I also ride and jump multiple other horses who do not do this- so while I’m sure I could ride it better, I know I’m not the direct cause of the issue. Thanks for your help!

My old man does this! It’s really quite impressive how he can approach the fence by cantering parallel to it. His show name is Suicide Run for a reason…

With him, it’s excitement. Does your horse get really worked up and nutty when he goes sideways? If so, lots of work on relaxing and reinforcing that jumping is no big deal. I would set up a low jump (maybe 18") and pop over it randomly during our ride, making sure he didn’t have time before the jump to get excited, and going right back to work after.

I had a (slightly younger) ottb that would do this to most jumps except in stadium courses where he didn’t really have time for it. He had been abused and then had his brain sort of fried by a summer camp. He loved to jump, and when the jumps got bigger he was better, but over the little stuff he had a tendency to just loose his mind.

Rather than fight him or try to fix it per say I just stayed very quiet and calm. If I got in his face or my aids got too loud he would get worse. So I would act like he was actually straight under me and ride to the fence in a half seat and let him figure it out. He did gradually get better, unfortunately he also had physical problems that ended his life early (the theory was a chronic bone infection but since keeping him stalled was not really an option since he kicked through walls on a regular basis, we opted to put him down rather than make him suffer)

Yes my last event horse did this a lot. It becomes an issue when the fences get bigger. The reason for this is that they are not containing their energy and remaining straight to the fence. They may feel like they are not capable of jumping straight, as it is more difficult for them to jump a jump straight and properly.

I was able to improve my guy slightly, but it still creeped in when he got really excited. Lots of straightness over fences exercises are needed. Gymnastics, placing poles to narrow the jumping space, etc.

Prime example of this at 6:04 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mhCvwUICSY

This horse has since been retired from eventing due to his showjumping antics.

Sounds like a straightness issue to me. Mine used to do this. Not anymore! We are straight now! With the holes in his training you mention, it sounds like he needs to be taught how to be straight through his body. Is he truly straight in flat work? Mine was very crooked to the right. He basically asked you to pull on the right rein all the time, he’d tilt his nose in like, “I’m bending, take up that right rein!” He did this o/f too. He also never stopped, only ran out, and run outs are a HUGE indicator that you have a straightness problem. Totally fixable!

What do you do when he get’s like this? It is a straightness issue. It could be a hock issue as well. I often see this when a rider holds with restricting hands, but isn’t riding a good canter to keep the horse straight. I also see it happen with horses who think they need the speed to get over the fence rather than to stay straight and push from behind. It could be left over from him being overfaced when younger but you do need to fix it as it will cause run outs…because he isn’t straight. Run outs are a HUGE red flag that the rider isn’t keeping the horse straight.

I sometimes will go back to trotting fences on horses like this, circling, doing various things so I do not have a long straight approach until I can keep his canter straight and relaxed. It takes work but this is very fixable.

I had a guy that wasn’t straight o/f. We did a lot of big X’s (really encourage straightness) and grid work. Also a lot of trotting fences to build up strength.

What happens if you carry a dressage whip? Not to “punish” him with, just a gentle tap on the hindquarters as a like “hey, we’re going straight, you have to focus straight” kind of thing. Like I said, just as a reinforcer.

Just seconding (thirding?) the connection with straightness – I have learned that 100% of our run outs are about straightness.

Not to hijack, but Jealoushe, what a spicy critter!!! I was at Equus that day in PT (and evidently came to grief in stadium as well as I have a big E by my name… :cool:). I must have blocked out what happened, but maybe there was a curse lingering over the ring… yeah, that’s it, I’m sure ;). Congrats on a very tactful ride!!! :smiley:

[QUOTE=fargaloo;7385125]Just seconding (thirding?) the connection with straightness – I have learned that 100% of our run outs are about straightness.

Not to hijack, but Jealoushe, what a spicy critter!!! I was at Equus that day in PT (and evidently came to grief in stadium as well as I have a big E by my name… :cool:). I must have blocked out what happened, but maybe there was a curse lingering over the ring… yeah, that’s it, I’m sure ;). Congrats on a very tactful ride!!! :D[/QUOTE]

LOL oh thank you. Equus stadium is the demise of so many people every year! Such a challenge!

[QUOTE=fargaloo;7385125]Just seconding (thirding?) the connection with straightness – I have learned that 100% of our run outs are about straightness.

[/QUOTE]

I have learned the same! Ever since I’ve learned my run outs were from a straightness issue, we have had very few, and I know immediately what I did wrong to cause it

My guy approached jumps (and jumped them) crooked when he was greener. It was, as many other people have already mentioned, a straightness issue. He would do it particularly on a downhill (even a slight one) because it was easier for him to be crooked and jump crooked than to actually collect his stride and stay straight and collected - by going in crooked it buys the horse more room so he doesn’t HAVE to be more collected.

It doesn’t matter if the horse is “excited” or whatever - it shouldn’t ever be crooked. “Excitedness” is not an excuse for ANY training deficiency.

Unsurprisingly, when my horse was greener he also had a couple run-outs (just while schooling) because he had steering deficiencies (if he had steered properly, he wouldn’t have ever been crooked and he wouldn’t have ever run out). Now we’ve got that sorted out and haven’t had a run-out since either. In fact, he’s so straight I can point him at a single barrel and he’ll jump through the middle perfectly, every time, without me needing to “hold” him there.

Hi Everybody, I’m glad to hear that you don’t think it’s a pain issue and that it’s probably a training issue. I just worry because he does have some physical wear and tear (from racing/etc) and it would break my heart if I was asking him to do something that hurt him, so I just wanted to make sure (he’s also gets chiro and saddle fit btw). I firstly have put a lot more dressage schooling on him than he had had prior and that has greatly improved him. Secondly I have been working with him with my trainer on straightness and calmness over fences and he’s much improved. He still has some straightness/bending issues- for example he does not have a lead change and he prefers to land on the right lead (for all riders that have ridden him). The issue with cantering sideways before jumps really only happens at shows on xcountry with long straight approaches. When he does it, I sometimes have to end up circling him- I’m not really sure what to do though lol so any ideas would help- I usually just try to ride him through it without messing with him too much- i’ve been hesitant to carry a whip or ride with spurs xcountry because of how strong he is and over-exciteable. Do you think it would help me to carry a dressage whip cross country or wear small spurs?

Hi thanks glad to know it is fixable! I actually do a lot of trot work over fences with him as when I first got him he would literally just try to charge fences, and now he’s more confident to come in to tighter spots and at a better pace. It may be related to me riding him with restricted hands xcountry- he is an absolute machine when there are straight long approaches and we do end up fighting a little bit. He’s a frustrating ride because he is so talented but mentally…difficult. Before I got him for free his previous owner was trying to sell him for big bucks and several grand prix jumper riders came out to try him and they all said he was unsellable!

I don’t think anyone is using it as an excuse. They are explaining WHY the horse goes crooked and sideways. Obviously we all want a straight horse, it’s one of the hardest things to achieve in your training.

zorse - Do you hold your horse to the fences? Sometimes that can also make the horse feel like it packaged up but has no where to go. Can you work on cantering into fences with a light rein? That should help.

If I were you I would practice jumping out of a gallop in the field, over a showjump. Diana Burnett used this exercise in a clinic. Set up a pilon about 8 strides away from a 3’ vertical. Practice your three canters (sneaky canter, regular canter, and going somewhere canter) coming down towards the fence. Use the pilon to help count strides. You should be able to canter in and when you pass the pilon you make no change - just allow the horse to canter up to the fence. This is to help you hone your eye and have your canter at least 8 strides back, so you are not interfering with the horse closer to the fence.

[QUOTE=zorse;7385743]
It doesn’t matter if the horse is “excited” or whatever - it shouldn’t ever be crooked. “Excitedness” is not an excuse for ANY training deficiency. [/QUOTE]

Well duh. But it DOES matter if the horse is excited or whatever. You need to know WHY the horse is crooked in order to fix it. Would you follow the exact same training schedule with a horse who is excited, a horse who is lacking strength, and a horse who is ouchy? I certainly wouldn’t.

If he is swinging his haunches to the right…then he is blowing off your right leg. you need to put your right leg on…even KICK him with it. This is hard to do when he is a forward ride but he is probably getting away with it because he gets quick and you are holding with your arms and taking your legs off him. Sometimes the “quicker” horses actually need more leg from their rider. Not both legs at once but if he swings one way, you need to stop it with your leg. So you may need spurs xc and certainly need a crop. Circling is not a bad idea…better than to continue to come to the fence sideways! But otherwise, really it is riding him like you do in dressage…it isn’t different. So the same things you do to keep in straight in dressage are what you do jumping. It’s fairly simple, but not easy. You should get the most help from your trainer who knows you and the horse.

And I would keep a close watch on his hocks…it can be a sign of some discomfort but nothing to be too concerned about. Just keep and close eye as it could be the first signs that he is telling you his hocks bother him…this is where you know your horse and your trainer know your horse. But a horse only landing on one lead is typically a sign of something physical. You are not likely asking him to do too much, but he may need a bit more maintenance. Hell…I do too as I’ve gotten older!

[QUOTE=bornfreenowexpensive;7386920]If he is swinging his haunches to the right…then he is blowing off your right leg. you need to put your right leg on…even KICK him with it. This is hard to do when he is a forward ride but he is probably getting away with it because he gets quick and you are holding with your arms and taking your legs off him. Sometimes the “quicker” horses actually need more leg from their rider. Not both legs at once but if he swings one way, you need to stop it with your leg. So you may need spurs xc and certainly need a crop. Circling is not a bad idea…better than to continue to come to the fence sideways! But otherwise, really it is riding him like you do in dressage…it isn’t different. So the same things you do to keep in straight in dressage are what you do jumping. It’s fairly simple, but not easy. You should get the most help from your trainer who knows you and the horse.

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Agree with all of this - with the circle though - if you do that - make sure you circle the OPPOSITE direction he is trying to be crooked. In my horse’s case, he was always hanging on the right rein and coming at the jump with his left should popped out. He would run out left, and only left, because of this. So if I were to circle, it would NEVER be to the left, because that’s what he wanted.

Glad to know we’re not the only ones…Flash " used" to be very sideways up to jumps…and yes it was amazing that he could straighten out 1 stride out and get over with room to spare. He did it mostly in stadium almost never X ctry…I think it happened mostly when we tried to slow him down…kind of a protest…lots and lots of practice and patience…he’s 17 now…most of the time ( not always) he goes straight…I think I’ve learned to ride him better as well…

What is a pilon? Sorry haha not familiar with that term. Thanks everyone for the responses