Languishing between the add and the step

Just hanging out in baby horse land between doing the add and moving up to the step and looking for ideas to make that transition easier?

Horse is a 6yo gelding that was supposed to be a large pony and has ended up at 15.2 so far. COVID put last year’s horse show plans on hold so he’s only been out a handful of times and we are doing the babiest of baby green divisions at local shows. He’s not ever going to just lope down the lines at the real distance but I feel confident that the step is in there. In the video you can see I am asking him to whoa down the lines and in the last couple of months doing the add has gotten harder as he’s getting stronger and his stride is naturally opening up.

BUT, he’s not quite ready to comfortably do the step without sometimes finding ourselves launching on the out. Since this horse tended to want to always launch in his earliest jumping efforts and we’ve been working really hard to NOT go there, we’re kind of stuck right now in that less-than-ideal in between phase.

He’s not a sale horse so there’s no hurry or agenda in getting there quickly, but I’d be happy to hear ideas on lengthening the honie canter without losing its quality or rideability. Eventual goal is to be a 3’ Small Hunter.

Over fences:


The jumps are too small - my guess is that you’ll be right there when you are doing 2’6" courses. It’s much easier to do the add when the jumps are 2’-ish, even on a horse with a big stride. The arc of the horse’s jump is just too small when the jumps are that low that it makes the lines ride a little longer.

(I am not judging anyone jumping small jumps for whatever reason!)


Ummmmm…well, in the video down the diagonal, he landed going nicely but you look like you tried to balance or something just for a split second and he shortened up and continued on that step to a bad spot. It was there though.

Thing with low fences like this is they don’t jump big enough to carry any step into the line and any adjusting tends to take away what they do have. To me, he looks like he’s got enough step for these with a little management i.e land and keep going, start riding for the next fence before you land, not a few strides after.

You might benefit from flatwork at the canter working on keeping him ahead of your leg, sit down with more leg, hands a touch higher. Push him into it. The exercise over ground poles where you change the strides from add, to regular to leave out then back to add is very helpful.

First impression of his canter is its a bit pokey and behind the leg. Get that sorted out right after you get your canter and it should help you out…little more energy goes a long way.

Know that from personal experience, none of mine were gifted in the step department and going faster was not the answer. Better canter was the solution along with better corners and a straight horse.


Gosh he really is a super cute little hunter prospect. Super cute and looks very well cared for.

I think if the rider opens up her closed upper body posture a bit (shoulders back) it just might transfer to the horse being allowed to open up his step. Worth a try.

I know it wasn’t asked but the lack of lead changes is probably a bigger issue in this case; rather than stride length.

I think the longer step is in there, once it’s allowed.

Best wishes!


Agree you will probably be fine once the jumps get bigger. And it’s probably good to keep on doing the add at this height.

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What a lovely little pony and rider and such a calm ride.

I am going to be completely blunt which comes from me actually caring and not being mean.

I know nothing about hunters and every single horse I saw in those videos until I stopped watching are the same.

You are not in the world of baby horse land but more baby horse riders. You need dressage lessons. Your pony is on the forehand and you have no connection. Contact takes a long time to learn. You need to start now to become a real rider.

With connection comes collection. With collection comes extensions. You will then be able to adjust the stride to whatever you want. You can practice over poles on the ground you do not need higher fences. They will come with time, patience and training of the horse AND rider.

Enjoy your journey that will start today…I hope.

@SuzieQNutter if you know nothing about hunters, perhaps you should not opine on a beginner level hunter hack class. OP rode it appropriately.


EXACTLY what I was going to say. He will both jump deeper into the line, and leave earlier.

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SuzieQNutter. No


The hunter aesthetic is inherently more on the forehand than the olympic sports of showjumping and eventing. It is a USA-specific sport, where a long, relatively flat arch over the jump, a certain form, and a slow, ground-covering canter win the day. These horses are not in a balance to hunt in the field. I can understand how someone who is not familiar with the American Hunt Seat world could look at a successful hunter and wonder what the heck is going on.


Lol, I have been riding 50 years plus and teaching for over 20. I’ve ridden plenty of 3’6” quite successfully, on horses who were bred and produced for that job. This is my own little project horse who is not blessed with the genetic advantages of my previous rides.

I’m never ashamed to ask for different ideas from other riders. Thanks for your input and I’ll keep enjoying my journey.


Your horse is lovely. I agree a higher fence will help
you immensely down the lines. Your tempo is measured and steady albeit behind the leg. But it’s even. And running that even tempo is more valuable at this height than trying to move up. Good luck OP.


This was his fourth show over fences and I’m pretty sure the first two we were still trotting in and cantering out the lines. We’re schooling bigger at home and he’s learning lead changes, and I know the bigger and more engaged step will help with the changes too.

I see the step right there - with the settle on the first few strides on the diagonal L to R, the add was easy. But, I could see him right on the five with the forward flowing ride up the line. He’s adorable.


Umm I love him. Where did you find this cute fellow?
I think just like everyone else said once you are doing bigger jumps and can ask for a bit more forward you will have no issues with the distances.


I got him as a trade for a school horse I had because at the age of fifty, OF COURSE I needed an unbroken 2-yr-old overgrown pony. :smirk:

But he is quite adorable thank you.



He’s very cute and I think you are absolutely doing the right thing to do the add for now. I think when the jumps go up you’ll just close your leg for the first few strides on landing and be able to balance then to the next jump… and of course that will also help with the changes :smiley:


Holy knees batman!!! :scream:
What a cutie pie!

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First of all, SUPER CUTE HORSE. Me likey!

Thanks for posting this question. I also have a very green bean. He’s not gifted with a huge step despite being 16.1+. I’m getting a lot out of reading this thread.


I am going down the jump height ladder, but lucky to still be riding at 68. I only jump 2’3" these days, but want to do the strides, so I know something about little jumps!

I think 2’3" is the smallest you can do and still do the strides. 2’ is too small, as others said, the arc is too small.

Also, don’t let his size get in your head. One of my two current riding horses is 15.2, and gets down the lines as easy or easier than many taller horses I’ve ridden. Way easier than a lot of them.

Also, IMO too much add step is counterproductive if the horse is the quiet type. I’ve had some lease horses that were doing the add, which they would much prefer, and it takes some work to get them to open up. I’d stay home til you get his changes and get to at least 2’3". Now is a good time to get him in the habit of an open step. And to land away from the jumps.

Another one of my horses is short strided plus he wants to land close. My trainer had me put a pole on the landing side to teach him to land away and jump across better.

At home when I am practicing on a not so long-strided horse, I just set the lines a bit short. I don’t worry because I find that when at a horse show, they naturally give you that bit of extra you need. I also practice a LOT over poles set 5 strides apart. Doesn’t need to be 72 feet. 66 - 68 or so is fine. But you have have the same canter going in as in between and after. I use it to “calibrate” my stride. Find that canter to and through the poles, then keep it to a jump or your course.