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Answers to Your Tough Equine Questions Straight From the Horses Mouth!

Dear Nellie,

I feel like I need a course card!

My person does not know how to help me to bend or balance around corners or turns. His solution is to ride me into a turn, while pulling my head to the out side of that turn. So if we are traveling to the left, my head and consequently my line of sight, is pulled to the right. He does this I think, in an effort to widen our turn.

This is not so bad unless the footing is slick, until we add an obstacle to the exercise!

When we are coming off a turn, and he has my head pulled to the outside, I often do not even know there is a jump coming up, until I am on top of it. I canít get my head around the turn far enough to see what is expected of me!

I do like to jump, but not when it is a shock at the last moment. I have no time to gather, or adjust my lengthening stride to the comfortable forward distance. This means that this is not only an ugly jump, but often an unsafe one.

I am no quitter, but I often feel compromised when I leave the ground in my attempts to get us to the other side of the jump. Any suggestions would be most appreciated.

Constantly Surprised

Whoa Nelly!

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Dear Suprised,

I have seen this problem at many levels of competition, on the flat, over fences and in field sports as well. It is a real problem, and not only makes it difficult for us to negotiate these sudden obstacles, but it makes our jumping efforts unsafe at times.

If our partners would understand that we need to be well balanced on all four feet, at all times, it would make all our lives a bit safer.

I do remember overhearing a conversation at ring side one day. A person was talking about how they almost rolled their car by taking a turn too fast, and having the car come up on two tires around the turn. They said they were very lucky they did not flip! They were very scared, and it changed their driving habits.

That is how we feel when we are thrown at a fence, extremely unbalanced, and unprepared to leave the ground safely. Itís scary! The solution is to not go around a turn blind! If our human partners can not balance and help bend us around the turn so we can see whatís coming, we should not be jumping off of the turns.

Since we donít always have a good choice made for us, we often have to lead by example as best we can. I would recommend that you either slow your rhythm and cadence on the turn, or break gait. This will help you reduce the element of surprise, and buy you some time to balance and adjust your distance to the obstacle so you may jump safely. Better to jump safely, than hope you can survive when unprepared.

I do know many horses that have attempted to solve this problem by refusing, or ducking out. This is seen of course as disobedience by people, and promotes other worse types of miscommunications.

If you can show your person that the mechanical jumping process is much more comfortable for both of you, when controlled, balanced, and safe, they may forgive the slow down in pace or gait long enough to grasp the concept.

I hope that this helps. Good luck and Ill be looking out for you!


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