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Striding Lesson - Pony Club meeting

Our March PC meeting was a combined mounted/unmounted meeting about striding in jumping.  It was held at Capstone Farm, which is a solid hour and a half drive from me.  Because we have not been doing much more than toddling around in the sn*w at a walk twice a week, I opted not to bring Ellie with me, as I did not think it would be appropriate for her right now.  Plus, while the majority of my driveway is now down to bare dirt, the first steep hill is still icy, as it faces north and doesn't get much sun.  And let's be real, it was soooo much easier to not truck her that far and worry about her standing on the trailer while we did the unmounted portion (no stalls available).

I feel pretty comfortable walking lines on my owns and setting lines at home, but this type of practice is always beneficial in my opinion.  When in doubt at home, I just pull out the tape measure, but I want to feel more confident in my ability to just walk a line and know it is right.  I felt like I would definitely learn something useful, and I wanted a few of my own questions answered.

The first hour and a half of the meeting was unmounted, as we practiced walking our "three-foot stride" and also using an actual measuring tape.  We used just poles on the ground, which is the best way to practice your striding without overjumping your horse.  I was pleased that our instructor, Courtney, was easy to relate to and the knowledge she shared helped me to solidify my own abilities.

pics are from our PC Facebook page and Instagram
The other PC members were not as confident in their knowledge, so I had to be careful not to answer every single question LOL!  It felt good to know I was on the right track, but I also did not want to overstep the kids.  However, I think they were scared to speak up and be "wrong", whereas I am over that stage in life haha.  So if Courtney waited longer than 10 seconds for an answer, I often just piped up.

It was interesting to me to hear Courtney talk about how she sets lines at home versus how lines are set at shows.  At home, she sets the landing and takeoff at 3' instead of 6'.  So, for example, if you are setting a three-stride line, she would take a 3' step for the landing after the first fence, then pace off the three strides, and then leave one 3' step for the takeoff of the second fence.  It makes sense if you are jumping small fences (or poles, in this case) because the horse's arc over a small fence is going to be smaller than over a larger fence.  And of course, she talked about adjusting the distance between the fences to make it comfortable for your horse.

But that is where one of my questions came in.  Why should I set it at home always perfect for my horse's striding when it is not going to be set that way at shows?

Specifically, in eventing, as opposed to say the pony hunters, everything is set on a 12' stride and distances are not adjusted for heights of horses or heights of fences.  That is all well and good if your horse has a 12' stride or you can easily push them out to create it, but if your horse is a 10' stride, then you have to figure out what to do.  I feel it is best to create confidence over the individually adjusted striding distance at home, especially for a young/green over fences horse like Ellie, but then you've got to practice over a "typical" 12' striding too if you are going to compete.

Courtney agreed this was the right way to go.  I asked her if she thought it was ok to do an add stride if that was needed for the horse instead of flattening out a canter just in favor of getting the strides right.  Because if the canter is crappy or you are galloping down to a fence, the jump is going to be poor.  I mean, Ellie and I are not competing as hunters, but I do want to set her up for success, even over cross rails.  She definitely agreed with doing the add stride and then being consistent (if you add a stride in one combo, add it in any others on course).


Around 11:30, two kiddos got tacked up and we watched them create the "ideal canter" and test it out over the two ground poles set as a five stride.  We also measured each horse's stride length, which is something I definitely plan to do with Ellie to have a clear idea of what I am working with.  It was interesting to see how each horse and rider pair navigated the exercise and how slight adjustments to balance the canter produced better striding.

It would have been fun to start adjusting the canter stride to add a stride and/or remove a stride, which would have been the next exercise, or to try it over actual jumps instead of poles, but it had been almost an hour at that point.  Both riders and horses had improved enough to call it a day (and they had cantered for quite a bit haha).  I remarked that this would be a fun clinic to do again, with more of us riding, and Courtney and our DC, Liz, assured us we could do this again in the spring.  I'd like to ride with Courtney over the exercises now that I have done this clinic with her, so it is exciting to know they are planning to do it again.




A post shared by Atlantic PC (@atlanticponyclub) on


You can hear me encouraging one of the young riders to step up to measure.  ;-)  I did not realize Liz was videotaping us haha.

Next up for PC is a quiz rally the first weekend in April, but sadly I committed to a teacher workshop that day way back in the fall!  So I have to miss it, which makes me super sad.  Oh well; next time!

Comments

Martidoll said…
i so need the unmounted part of this clinic. Sounds like a good day!!
Sara said…
Striding is something I am learning to figure out better. Did they give you any tips on how to best measure your horse's stride? I really have no idea if H'Appy is 10 or 12.
It was great to do all of this unmounted and then watch other horses go! Definitely recommend asking an instructor to take the time to do this with you if you have a chance!
Yes! First you should rake out an area on the long side so you can clearly see the hoofprints. You then create the balanced canter you think you need for jumping. You canter down along through the raked area so the hoof prints are obvious to measure. You find the outside hind (let's say you are cantering on the left lead, so you are looking for the right hind). You start the measurement from the heel of the outside hind print. Then you will see the diagonal pair of hoof prints, then the inside front (the left if going left). So you measure from the heel of the outside hind to the toe of the inside front!

Interestingly, the smaller chestnut TB mare (in the video above) measured only around a 10'3" stride, while the taller/rangier grey mare (not pictured) was just around 9'8"! Sadly, she also did not seem totally sound, so was not cantering as well as she could have been. I never thought she would have such a short stride for her size, but again, she wasn't coming through and underneath herself well. It was deceiving!
TeresaA said…
I think adult PC sounds like so much fun.
Laura said…
Sounds like a good clinic! I've never learned to jump so the whole striding thing confuses me since I'm not great spatially! lol About all I can handle is western trail, where everything is flat. haha - oh and western lope stride in trail is 6ft!
Sara said…
Thank you! I’ll have to try that out.
Definitely! And let us know how it goes! I am going to measure Ellie's stride length once the snow is gone and there is actually DIRT haha.
It is so fun! Definitely would recommend to anyone!
WOW that is a short canter stride! But it makes sense, as a western lope!
Liz Stout said…
What a great clinic. Now you've got me wanting to measure all of my horses' strides.
L.Williams said…
When I was a senior in college I finally got into one of the intro major classes that was required for me to graduate (it was a severely impacted class when I was younger and they let seniors have priority enrollment since it's a requirement) but since it was intro stuff and I had already taken my Upper Level classes it was a snoozefest. In section there were 3 of us seniors and the rest freshmen and they were still in the "I'm too embarassed to raise my hand" phase of life so my 2 friends and I answered all the questions and debated the TA all quarter long. Honestly that was the best part of that class. hahaha

This clinic sounded like a lot of fun and I was inspired by your enrollment in pony club and looked for one near me but there is sadly none
Right! That is how I felt! I must know all the measurements haha!
Haha as a teacher I know how tough it is for some kiddos to ask the (what they see as) "dumb" questions, but I am totally that person who asks all the questions and probably annoys everyone LOL!

THAT IS SO SAD there is no PC near you! D-: I figured CA would have more opportunities than we do here in Podunk, Maine haha.
Did you try searching here? https://www.ponyclub.org/FindPonyClub/Map.aspx

There looks like there are a few in the Southern CA Region!