Joe Fargis, double gold-medalist, came to The Horse Rescue this past November to give me... specifically... 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, example... a horse that has a slow front-end. But sometimes it does not work in my favor... a back rail coming down over an oxer. Personally, I have no idea why I have a "long eye." I might have developed it with my old Thoroughbred with a slow front-end, or maybe it's because I find it hard to move up to a normal spot on my current sensitive Thoroughbred. Whatever the case maybe, 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. We cantered them both ways and the distance was a tight 5 stride. Joe gradually increased the height of the jumps. We would canter them from both ways... from the right and from the left. As the jumps got bigger, the horse jumps bigger which leaves 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 and with a normal distance to stay quiet and steady for the 5 stride. 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 one of Joe's biggest things to teach to 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... complete the whole process, make it smooth, make it easy for the horse, don't jerk them up, don't pull harshly on their mouths... be kind.
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 as a rider, I get excited, and Joe reminds me to remain calm and always patient.
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 that day.