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My horse rushes over fences-help!

What are your ideas to keep a horse from rushing fences?

I don’t think a stronger bit is the answer, especially if it is partly your fault. I’m not an expert by any means, but what has been working with my mare to stop her rushing fences was doing some simple gymnastics. We just trotted over 4 cavelletti in a figure 8 pattern–2 20m circles. My trainer stood in front of the cavalletti and, as we trotted towards her over them, she would point left or right. We had to maintain a straight line over the cav and then do a nice circle in whichever direction to come back in, focusing on having the same rhythm at all times. The next time we jumped (just a cross rail) she didn’t rush at all. Maybe you could start with the simple 4, then raise the back one to jump height–she can’t rush and maintain her trot rhythm with the cav there. I guess you could do this with canter as well, if you space the poles correctly.

find another trainer who can help… trust me i know from experience. My horse went from dead gallop, upside down rushing to fences to being able to jump on a loose rein. it takes time but lots of retraining, grids and basics help. Oh! And remember to breathe! :yes:

This is going to sound to stupid but try it. Since you want to take a bid so badly.
It will be easiest on a wall or fence.
Set fence.
Start with it as a ground line between standards.
Trot over it.
WITH YOUR EYES CLOSED starting about 3-5 strides out.
As you are mroe comfortable, have your ground person raise it to a smal x.
Repeat, at a trot.
Gradually work up to something “bigger”, using the term loosely.
And gradually work up to a canter.
Trust me, it works.

I’m going to assume that any soundness problems have been ruled out.

For starters, how adjustable is she on the flat? Move her out into bigger canter, then bring her back. Does she come back to you willingly and let you adjust the canter, or does she lay on the bit and flatten out? If it’s the latter, it is a flatwork problem, rather than a jumping problem.

If she is already pretty adjustable at the canter, and the problem only shows up when jumping, it’s likely a rider issue, or a habit that she has developed due to something that you are doing. You said it is worse down lines or in combinations, but she also does it at single fences. One thing that can help you learn to wait for her instead of pushing for the fences to jump a single fence on a large circle. Start with a very small fence, and gradually raise it as you and her become more comfortable. The goal is to ride the circle basically as if the jump is not there, so that it becomes just another canter stride. As the rider, your job is to set the rhythm using your seat and maintain it, while keeping light contact with your hands the whole way to the base of the fence (with horses that rush, the more you snatch at them in front of the fence, the more they speed up).

Once you and the your horse are comfortable with the single fence, I would set a fence from which you can ride one of two different bending lines, and alternate which one you take so that she can’t anticipate the second fence. Make sure that you ride to the first fence just the same as you did to the single one … Don’t let the canter change… And land in the same canter you had leaving the single fence, which you maintain to the base of the 2nd. Think about keeping your shoulders back, but your seat light, not driving, just patiently waiting and maintaining the rhythm. It is more important to maintain your rhythm than worry about speed or stride length.

Did I explain it so that it makes sense?

Edited to add that this is something I had to work on a lot myself, having first been taught to ride very defensively and drive with my seat to the fence early on.

First off, kudos to you for posting video and inviting feedback. We ALL have issues and weak areas to work on, so don’t feel alone.

There are lots,of things you are doing well, and some not so much. For instance, you “over-package” her thru the turn and lose so much impulsion that she springs out of the turn at the jump (like a rubber band). But you have good basics and balance, so good for you.

Do you have a flatwork trainer at all? I know you mentioned taking one lesson with a jump trainer before the show and you felt “it did not help”. Have you considered committing to a series of lessons? These things take time and patience to address. It’s not fair to call them “horse issues” and they’re not always “rider issues”. They’re just unfinished homework.

Dom and Jimmie did a great Evention episode on this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbMqGfcYpnM

Been there, done that. Find a trainer who’s students/horses jump quiet, calm, steady courses. One who will teach both of you how to pick a pace and jump the entire course from the same pace. Expect alot of slow, “boring” flat work and gymnastics. It is really necessary.

Good Luck!

Yep, one lesson is not going to fix this. Find someone experienced and patient, and do a series of lessons. There will be gymnastics, placing poles, trotting into a line and quietly cantering out, etc. It might take months. This is not a bitting problem.

I’ve been thinking about why she does this and think part of it is me.[/QUOTE]
My favorite Jimmy Wofford quote: “The good news is they go the way you ride them. The bad news is they go the way you ride them.” That you’ve identified you are the problem is very mature and a huge step to fixing it!

In addition to “bidding” for the fence you are also using her mouth to try and slow her down (hence the bit changes.) You are telling her to “stop” and “go” at the same time. This will make just about any horse flat out crazy.

I would make it a mental priority to fix the part of your riding that is telling her to “stop” before anything else. Rushing is not the end of the downward progression caused by stop/go riding. Right now she’s listening more to the “go” part, but usually at some point they’ll start scaring themselves and start listening to the “stop” part. Then you’ve created a dirty stopper.

Fixing it is simple (but not easy) put her in a simple snaffle and stop pulling on her. Horses pull because we pull and then we pull because they are pulling. One of you needs to be adult enough to stop it first and it won’t be your mare.

It may take months to fix. You have to totally rebuild her trust that you absolutely will not get in her face and pull on her mouth. Gymnastics that will rate your horse for you so you don’t have to should be your new best friend. It’s going to be really, really ugly at first. You are going to let go and let her pick her own pace and when she begins to believe you that you really won’t pull on her she’ll start to slow down. Reintroducing single fences will be hard because you will be driven to want to pull again. Don’t.

Been there, done it, and not only have the t-shirt, but also have a tattoo across my forehead that says, “Hands down, don’t pull.”

A really good trainer will help. It’s a hard cycle to break, but you CAN break it and results a very rewarding! You are also greatly helped by the fact that this isn’t the way she has always gone. It is easier to recapture old good training than to go back and try to reinstall something new they’ve never done. There is the possibility once you get yourself right with her she’ll take a big sigh and say it was about time you came around. Fingers crossed for you.

First, I do like your horse.

Were you a hunter rider, before you started eventing?

Your horse needs to come from a place of more energy and a consistent rhythm. If he is going too slowly, then he has to make big moves to get himself out of trouble. More energy does not equal faster, which is why so many of us are suggesting that you take some more lessons. Also, you need to use a neck strap, so that you can keep your hands steady between fences. William Fox Pitt uses one, so it is a useful tool and not a crutch.

Jumping grids, without hands and eyes, will teach you to wait for your horse. Plus, you will not be able pick at your horse between fences. Watch your video again. Count how many times you pick (pull) on your horses reins. As a semi-reformed picker myself, I can see when someone else is doing it. It is a very hard habit to break. :winkgrin:

I am going to be honest with you. Watch closely what you are doing between the in and out. As soon as you land after the first fence, you start picking at your horse’s mouth and are looking down. All of these create conditions where your horse cannot give you what you want. Bitting up is not the answer, either. Would you mind trying the snaffle again?

I would set up a jumping chute along the long side of your arena. The arena fence will act as one side of the chute and you can build the other side. Set a series of gymnastics starting with a step rail, 7’ to a cross rail, 9’ to another cross rail, 18’ to an oxer. If you have a ground person there to help you set up each element, after you have gone through a couple of times, it would help you. Getting off and on to set them is a huge pain. Jump the step rail and cross rail first. Add the bounce, then add the oxer.

Before you try the exercise, while you are still in your warm up, count out loud, “one/two”, every other stride. See if you can count slowly and have your horse start to follow the rhythm that you are setting. Try speeding up the rhythm of your counting to see if your horse follows you. If so, then count the rhythm that you want your horse to go, into the jumping chute exercise. (I learned this exercise at a Jimmy Wofford clinic.)

Once you have gone through the whole exercise, then tie your reins in a knot. Go through the exercise with your arms in the airplane position. If you do not feel comfortable doing this, then just hold the neck strap, with no reins. Next, go through with your eyes closed. You can hold the neck strap. Feel when your horse leaves the ground. Stay centered over your saddle, not the pommel. Think squats. Feel your horse jump up to you and go with him. Breathe over each fence.

Having an instructor, who can help you through this exercise, would be the best case scenario. I believe, as the other posters told you, that finding an instructor, with whom you can work, is what would help you the most.

Good luck with your horse. I hope that some of this makes sense?

I too had a terrible time with my current horse rushing. It was a mix of her training (her old owner rode her very ‘bottled up’ in turns, then let her release that energy by blasting over the fences and then motorcycling the turns) and my riding. I think you, like I did, need to think about how much you are actually telling your horse to go- without noticing it! A lot of people ride with too much pinch in their knee and thigh, which is hard to tell from your video, but may be part of the reason you roll your upper body forward a bit. Once I was able to release that tension in my legs, she gradually rushed less and now canters totally smoothly around a course. She doesn’t rush, and equally important she doesn’t loose impulsion because I’m pulling on her. Find an instructor who focuses on your position- that was the only thing that helped me. And time!

what Subk said. Simple fix…but not easy. You are in her face WAY too much and giving very mixed singles…and to retrain you and her will take time. And it will get a bit ugly…but honestly, it sounds like that trainer you went to once was on the right track. But one lesson isn’t going to fix this. Good luck! She’s a nice looking horse.

My experience with horses that rush (ottb’s in particular) is not so much that they love jumping, but rather jumping makes them uncomfortable and some horses react by going faster when they encounter something that stresses them or makes them uncomfortable. If nothing else seems to work for your horse, sometimes stepping back and taking another approach on things might do the trick, and if that means doing grids of cross rails until you both are comfortable and confident, then so be it! We have all been there! You have a lovely horse, and I think she will be worth the patience and time. Best of luck to both of you!