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Keep Your Horse Straight Out of the Corner to a Jump

Submitted by member: Diana

Good afternoon! I show one of my horses in the A/O hunters and when going to the left (out of the turn and even down the line) his shoulder bulges right, and of course, creates a right drift.  What exercises can I use to get him straight before, during and after the turn on the way to the jump, and down the line? Is counter bending him in the turn a good remedy? Thank you very much.

Answer by Geoff Teall

I am a little old fashioned and simplistic in my approach to your problem, but this would be my suggestion. I will start with what I would not do, and then work backwards. As a rule, I do not use guide rails or rails on or around the jump. I do not want to have myself or my horse become dependent on them so I just start without them. I also do not use the counter bend to correct the problem. I think that this can be a powerful tool, but because this is so difficult and advanced, I find that more times than not it backfires. The counter bend can very quickly become a backwards correction as opposed to a forward correction, so that even if you do end up with a straighter horse, very often at the same time you have created a new, and in my opinion, a more serious problem; which is a horse no longer working forward. I am a firm believer in the idea that the first and most important step to straightness is forward, so I do not like to do anything that might inhibit this.

What I would do is to incorporate a lot of turning in my schooling. I would jump as many low jumps as I could off of both leads in both directions and do many soft turns off the ground with your horse. The object to me is to get your horse to follow your eyes and your hand in both directions in as many different situations as you can dream up. Start with the jumps low until your horse gets comfortable, and start with soft easy turns. Remember, the exercise is about getting your horse to relax and follow your hand, so take your time. Once your horse is turning well, then mix this up with straight line work. This can be followed up with straight lines, and then turning off the ground over the jump out of the line. Then you can go back to singles with turns, singles going straight, and on and on. As your horse gets more relaxed and rideable he should start to straighten himself out, which ultimately is the point. Good luck and I hope this helps.

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Geoff Teall

Geoff Teall is one of the leading Hunter and Hunt Seat Equitation trainers in the country. Horses and riders who have trained with Geoff have gone on to win championships, medals and ribbons at major events including Devon, the AHSA Medal Finals, the ASPCA Maclay Finals, the Capital Challenge, the Pennsylvania National, the Washington International, the USET Talent Search, and the National Horse Show. In addition to training, Geoff is an "R" judge for both Hunters and Hunt Seat Equitation. Visit his website: www.montoga.com

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