Sasha Suskind Moran and Forrest—March 30, 2012
From: Judge Carol Dean-Porter
First I have to tell you that I am a huge Thoroughbred fan. There is nothing with more heart! I am sure he is super fast across the ground and will be very tough to beat in jump offs. He appears to be well muscled and conditioned.
Forrest seems to really enjoy his job. He has pushed off equally from both hind feet from a slightly longish distance to this little oxer. I have the feeling that Forrest is not very impressed with this jump. His knees are up adequately. He is a bit loose with the lower legs but still clears the rails with room to spare. I think he would love a bigger jump! Be sure to ride him to the base on the oxers to encourage him to snap the front end up. I believe he is very careful and will only jump better.
Your saddle has slipped back a bit despite the breast plate. I think he would appreciate a more snugly adjusted elastic breast plate which will not bind his shoulders. That may be part of the reason he is not snapping those front legs up already. SmartPak has a great selection of my favorites: the 5 point attachment elastic breast plate. These secure the saddle at two points: saddle dees and billets.
Your lower leg has slipped back slightly but that is mostly because you have made an extra effort with your body to stay over his center of balance. If your saddle was adjusted 6 inches farther forward, you would not have to work so hard to stay with his jump.
He is very happy with the light contact release.
I wonder if he really needs the standing martingale? You may like to try him in a running martingale instead. I particularly like the elastic or bungee attachments. Your fuzzy boots are very attractive, but will gather sand and can cause irritation to the leg. I suspect your left front boot may have slipped down slightly.
Do you know his registered name and pedigree?
From: Judge Rob Gage
I love thoroughbreds. This jump just isn’t big enough. He just doesn’t feel the need to put out a full effort at this height. His front legs are OK, but he hasn’t lifted his knees up all the way either. He uses his head and neck nicely, and is well aware of where the rails are….in other words….I doubt he touches the jumps very often.
As for you Sasha, you have a nice long jumpery release. Your body is well positioned above his neck. Your foot may have slipped back….but only a bit. I think your stirrups are the right length. You have done everything to allow your horse to jump his best. I don’t know how old he is, but it looks to me that he has a lot more career ahead of him. Good Luck!
Follow up questions from Laura:
#1. What exercises would you suggest to better his jump? (i.e. gymnastics, etc.)
#2. What can I do as a rider to better my leg from slipping back?
From: Judge Carol Dean-Porter
Question #1: First be sure to ride to the base of the jump, don’t leave him the “gap”. Gymnastic grids are always a good tool to improve technique. Just be sure to not tire him out. Two or three repetitions is better than 10 or 12. These exercises force the horse to engage the hind end and that is hard work! I think this horse has enough natural talent and cares about the rails enough that even if he stays slightly loose, I don’t see him getting sloppy and rubbing a lot of jumps. I bet he will love a bigger jump too!
Question #2: Fixing your saddle adjustment will make a huge difference. Riding in 2 point will strengthen the lower leg and of course work without stirrups makes for a super strong leg!
From: Judge Robert Gage
Question #1: I like exercises like bounces, set at 12′ apart…I like 4 of them, and I never make them higher than 3′, as they are somewhat stressful. I also like a grid, that starts with a pole on the ground, 8′ to a X-rail, about 18′ to a vertical, then 19′ to a smallish oxer, then 30′ to another oxer.
Question #2: As for your leg…of course…lots of work without your irons can’t hurt. I used to spread “stickum” on the insides of my boots, or down the skirts of my saddle. Saddles tend to get slippery. Best of luck, and keep us posted on his progress. Oh, by the way, 4′ is GREAT!!