Four-star event rider and multi- junior and young rider European eventing medallist Georgie Spence provides one H&H forum user with some helpful advice on how to see a stride while jumping
Q: “I can’t see a stride any more! Please can you give me suggestions for exercises and techniques to help me get my eye in while jumping and also perhaps build a little more confidence. I’m currently jumping at around 85cm.”
Georgie says: A lot of people struggle with seeing a stride so I wouldn’t worry yourself too much. There are plenty of different exercises you can try.
Firstly you need to make sure you have enough quality in the canter — a lot of people confuse a powerful canter with a fast canter. You need balance, rhythm and “jump” within the pace.
A large number of people become hung up on seeing a stride but actually it’s not the end of the world if you can’t see the perfect spot. If you think about when you loose jump a horse, they don’t get to the fence on the perfect stride every time but they learn to sort themselves out — a horse needs to be able to think for itself.
Seeing a stride is something that develops with time. A few exercises I use when teaching, is to place two poles five strides apart. Canter over the two poles several times each way on the five strides. Then adjust the canter to add a stride to make it six strides between the poles, again riding in both directions. Then go back to the five strides and then go to four strides. As you get more confident build the poles to small fences and then bigger fences, but still within you and your horse’s capability.
This exercise starts to develop your ability to change the canter and feel the length of each stride which will come in handy if you need to collect or extend the canter to meet a fence on the best take-off point.
I also find it helpful to put a pole on the ground two strides before a fence. It doesn’t quite give you the security of having a placing pole (usually a bounce stride) before take off which will nearly always put you in the right spot, but allows you to start or feel the take off point from two strides away.
The main thing to remember is a horse is much more likely to be able to take off from the wrong place with a good canter than the perfect place in a weak canter.