5. Ad­just Your Goals on the Fly

Practical Horseman - - Cross Country -

Cor­rect a horse who hes­i­tates re­peat­edly on take­off.

If you feel con­fi­dent enough to put both reins in one hand just be­fore take­off, give a tap of the stick right be­hind your leg, be­ing sure to keep your eyes fo­cused ahead. Tim­ing is ev­ery­thing here, so if you’re not con­fi­dent that you can do this with­out los­ing your bal­ance or rein con­tact, use the stick on your horse’s shoul­der in­stead and give a cluck.

Pre­vent cut­ting in on take­off.

Dis­cour­age your horse from an­tic­i­pat­ing the turn as you ap­proach a jump and cut­ting in be­fore the jump.

Take the spooky jump test: I’ve draped a cooler over a small ver­ti­cal. Be­fore pre­sent­ing Au­tumn to the jump—which truly alarms him at first—I calmly walk him past it. Then I pick up the can­ter and head to­ward it. Still wor­ried about the jump, he breaks to trot, but I per­se­vere by sit­ting deep in the sad­dle and tall in my up­per body while clos­ing my legs firmly on his sides and widening my hands slightly, main­tain­ing a steady con­nec­tion on both reins. I main­tain this de­ter­mined po­si­tion all the way to the base of the jump, keep­ing my eyes up and my shoul­ders be­hind his shoul­ders, be­ing care­ful not to col­lapse my up­per body. I also give a cluck and wave my stick so he can see it out of the corner of his eye. As a re­sult …

… he bravely jumps the cooler. C.



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