Rider's Resolutions

  Since this will be the last blog post of 2013, why not take the time to list our resolutions for 2014? Though the statistics say that most people will give up on their resolutions near the beginning of the year, making goals for you and your horse is a good thing to do.

2014; the year of the horse

  I think that the trick to sticking to your resolutions is to do two things:

  Be realistic and write them down.

  As much as I'd like to say that one of my resolutions would be to qualify for the upcoming Olympics, it's not a realistic resolution (but it can be a good long term goal). Depending on where you are in your equine career, your resolutions will differ. If you're new to riding, you might make it a goal to be able to know if you're on the right posting diagonal before your instructor tells you to change it. If you're someone like Eric Lamaze or Reed Kessler, then it might be realistic for you to make the Olympics a resolution.

  You're only going to get discouraged if the resolutions are unrealistic. So keep them attainable to you. Who knows, you might end up completing your goal before the year is done and then you can add on to your list and see if you can complete that before the end of the year.

  The next thing to do is to write them down. And don't just write them down on a napkin and leave is somewhere where you will probably lose it the next day. Write it (or type it) on a paper and put it somewhere that you will see it everyday. Some might find it useful to put it on their fridge and others might find it better to keep it on their phone. Wherever the right spot is for you, make sure it's somewhere you look daily. That way, you'll always be reminded of your resolutions. Just like a "to do" list, it will show you your goals and what you need to do to get there before the year is up. If you ever end up forgetting or giving up on your resolutions, that paper will help you get back on track.

  What's also great about writing them down is that, when you complete your resolution, you can cross it out and write the date on it. That way, you'll feel so proud that you accomplished that and it will encourage you to try to attain your next goal.

  Remember your big goal while you write your resolutions. If you would like to make it to the Olympics one day, what little steps do you have to make to get yourself there? If you focus on the little steps, you're less likely to give up, but don't forget what you are striving for in the process. You want to, as the expression goes, keep your eyes on the prize.

  So what are my resolutions for 2014? They're pretty simple:

  • Find a way to ride more whether it is through lessons or free riding

  • Increase my knowledge of horses and horsemanship through theory and practice

  • Continue to write and grow the Pure Horse Sense blog

  So there you have it, my resolutions for 2014. What are your rider resolutions? Maybe you can help me attain the last one on my list by sharing Pure Horse Sense with your horse friends and family. Thank you for reading and I wish you all a wonderful new year.

  Good luck to all of you with your resolutions!

  Until next year, happy riding!

The Art of Jumping (Part 2)

  Last week, I talked about how the different types of jumps will affect where your takeoff point will be. I promised you all the second part where I would talk about how to measure the distance between jumps. So here it is. What you are going to read next should help you to better understand how to set up a combination of jumps and knowing how many strides there will be within the combination. That way, when you are riding alone or walking a course before a competition, you will have a better idea of how to approach each jump before you get to it.

  The first thing you need to know is the length of your horse's stride. On average, a horse's stride will be about 12 feet (or 3.65 metres) and a pony's stride will be about 10 feet (or 3.05 metres). Depending on which method you are more comfortable with, you can either calculate the distance between two jumps in feet or in metres.

  The next thing you will need to do is measure out the length of your step. Stand with your heels against a wall and take a step. Then, take a measuring tape and measure the distance from the wall to where you are standing. Usually, a person will take a step between 3 and 4 feet (or 0.9 and 1.2 metres). Practice your steps with which ever distance is more comfortable for you.

  If you choose to walk a 3 foot step, you will need to take 4 steps to make one stride. If you choose to walk a 4 foot step, you will need to take 3 steps to make one stride.

  Next, you are ready to walk a combination. Stand with your back as close to the first jump as possible and walk your 3 or 4 steps to make the "first stride". This "first stride" should not be counted as one of the strides in your combination, however, this is the measurement of your take off and landing points. In general, a horse will takeoff and land about half a stride away from a jump (though depending on the type of jump and its height, these factors will change).

  Once you have counted that "first stride", start walking towards the second jump until you are as close as you can to it. As you are walking, count the number of strides. Some people like to count like this: "1,2,3,  1.  1,2,3,  2.  1,2,3,  3.  1,2,3,  4." (this would be for those walking a 3 foot step and need to take 4 steps to make a stride). It can become a little bit difficult for some people to count the strides. You'll need to find the technique that works best for you and stick with it. It may also be best to have someone walk the combination with you to confirm your count, especially when you are still getting used to walking your distances.

  Below is a picture of a 3 horse stride combination. The illustration shows how the distances are counted to help you better visualise what I have explained above.

3 stride, horse example.jpg

  So there is the basics of how to walk and measure the distance between two jump. As I have explained before, depending on the type and height of the jump as well as the stride length of your horse, these measurements will be modified.

  Hopefully, this information has been helpful to you. The best thing I could advise you to do is to practice. Once you have calculated and walked your distances, try riding your jumps and modify the distances if you need to. Once you are able to ride through a set of jumps comfortably, try walking the combination again to see how you need to change you step length to work well with your horse's stride and the type of jumps you are using.

  I may decide to write a third part to this segment also where I will talk about the different types of jumps as well as how their height, length and colour can affect their levels difficulty. Please let me know if you would like to do this either by emailing, commenting or tweeting me. I may not write it next week, but maybe in the future if enough of you would like to read it.

  I hope you are all having a nice weekend and enjoying your horses. Thank you for reading my blog and good luck.