Joe Fargis, double Olympic gold-medalist, came to The Horse Rescue this past November to give me a lesson. My husband, Christian, has told me over and over again that I have a “long eye.” This means that I leave just a little too much gap between the take-off and the jump. Sometimes this works in my favor, for example with a horse that has a slow front-end. However, it also does not always work in my favor, for example when a back rail comes down over an oxer. The objective of this lesson was to help me fix “my problem.”
We started with two sets of poles on the ground with an arbitrary distance between them, a tight 5 strides. Joe gradually increased the height of the jumps, and we cantered them from both directions, meaning right and left leads. As the jumps got bigger, the horse jumped bigger and left less room between the two jumps for the once comfortable 5 stride as poles on the ground. The goal was to be able to jump in quiet with a normal distance and to stay quiet and steady for the 5 strides. It wasn’t as easy as it looks!
One thing that really stuck in my head about the lesson is to follow through after jumping. This is something Joe emphasizes with all his students. If the horse lands on the wrong lead, change it, and canter again before coming back down to the walk. Don’t just stop after the jump and walk back to the middle. Instead, complete the whole process and make it smooth. Don’t pull the horse up or yank harshly on their mouths.
When Joe trains, he always has the best interest of the horse in mind. During my lesson with Joe, he helped remind me to remain soft on the horse, straight between the jumps and to not make any quick or rushed moves. I know that I tend to get excited, and Joe reminds me to always remain calm and patient.
Watch it here!
Here are some of the videos of Remy and myself and Vigaro and my husband. It shows the gradual transformation of starting with poles on the ground to working up to bigger fences. It was a fun exercise because the more you did it, the better you became. I didn’t have to worry about making a particular striding, or if the strides were going to change, I just got to work on my “long eye.” And I think (I hope) I accomplished something during my lesson that day.
Want to learn more about jump exercises like this? Check out our post about bending lines here!