Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 2 Talk/Q&A: It's all about the Balance

Once again, the day began with an hour long lecture/question and answer session, and at leas initially, folks hadn't had their starbucks again, save yours truly.

I asked several questions I'd been thinking about: Why use a figure 8 noseband? (other than the fact that SO MANY folks do it).....some people think it gives more control, but basically it's for a horse that opens his mouth both open and sideways. If your horse doesn't do that, you don't need it.

I also asked about the position of stud holes, given that my new farrier places them differently than my old one. At first, Jimmy said I should ask my vet, because he wasn't sure, but he also noted that he thought the "point" of the heel would be best.

One of the participants stepped up then and asked about studs (Jimmy called them something different....not clips, but something....). "When do you start using them?" I KNEW the response to this question, since I asked it last year: "When you get tired of slipping!" He went on to say that most Novice riders should know how/when to use them.

Tricia asked about wraps: standing wraps? When? How long?

Jimmy doesn't do standing wraps on a regular basis. If the horse is doing "extreme" work, he'll do it overnight, but he's talking 3 and 4 star work. His philosophy? Turn out, hacking, linament, and standing in the creek on his farm for hours at a time. :)

He talked about his program to get horses "fit" yesterday, but David asked today about prepping for a 1/2 star or other long formats. Jimmy nodded, saying that this preparation would need to be a bit more intense.

He said to follow the information in his book, but basically you'd need to add 30/40 minutes of hacking to it. You build your horse up to these levels BEFORE competing.

5 " @ 220 X 2 with 2" L
4 " @ 400 X 3 with 2" L

I loved this one: when someone asked how we can figure out what 350-400 mpm is, he said "350 is the speed at which you don't feel stupid for standing up in two point"...!

You should be able to slow canter twice the distance of your cross country. Given that cross country may be 10-15 minutes for the big guys, that's almost half an hour!

This schedule is for N and T.

For P, we'd do the same trot set (5" @ 220), but we'd do

6" @ 400 X 3 with 2" L

For I and A, we'd do

8" @ 400 X 3 with 2" L

Specifically for a Training Three Day Event (which several of us were shooting for), he suggested:

5" @ 220 X 3
4" @ 350-400
4" @ 350-400
4" @ 350-400

By easing up and then easing back, you help the horse become more elastic and responsive. Plus, you don't stress him too much. He gets used to listening to you.

You can also shorten your stirrups to help with YOUR fitness!

For a 1 star, he suggests:

6" @ 400-450
6" @ 400-500
6" @ 400-520

For a 2 star, you go up to 600.

Make sure you pull up before the horse comes "out of the bridle". Psychologically, the horse believes he could have done more, and that's what you want.

There are some horses who don't seem to be able to come out of the bridle--he described The Optimist, and talked about how he had a big, 6/10 of a mile very steep hill, and he would say "Ok, you knuckleheaded Irish sonofabitch, DO IT!". He always did.

Keep meticulous records of your program. And you should start NOW to prepare for the long format in spring. Horses are slower to peak than humans, but they stay fitter longer, too.

He talked to us a bit about our position over the jumps, and where our leg and body should be. Basically, like he said in his book, if you removed the horse, the rider should be able to stand.

He asked what the "two points" were in two point (two knees), and what the "three points" were in the three point seat (two seat bones and pubic bone). You can hold a three point without reins/stirrups. Harder to hold a two point.

We use a two point for
  • jumping
  • galloping
  • to keep weight off the horse's back
  • at the top of the posting trot
Most riders put too much weight on the horses forehand. If we load the forehand, we hinder the horse's balance, and therefore we're likely to have a bad, unbalanced jump (and likely rails). Similarly, if we sit too soon, we're likely to unbalance the horse's hind end, and we'll have rails.

When sitting, we should have a 90 degree angle in our knee for SJ. When we're in two point, it's 110 degrees.

He described how this position will change when we add uphill/downhill terrain. If we remain forward downhill, we're likely to topple. We need to be poised above the saddle, sitting but not down, and reins slipping going downhill.

He likes for riders to gallop in two point, come back to three point before fences (that will be a signal to your horse that something is coming that he needs to be "under himself" for). Jimmy doesn't believe in "zones"....except, perhaps, for the "no whining zone"!

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