How to Find the Distance to a Jump, Part 1

n a perfect world, a horse lands 6 feet from the jump, setting up the next in a line. Journal photo n a perfect world, a horse lands 6 feet from the jump, setting up the next in a line. Journal photo

January 16, 2018

How to Find the Distance to a Jump, Part 1
Top professional competitors share horse-training tips for riding accurately to the jumps.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal
AQHA over-fences classes include working hunter, equitation over fences, hunter hack and jumping. Each event, though unique in style and purpose, demands horse and rider athleticism, efficiency, balance and a strong understanding of distances.

Heed these horse-training tips for success in over-fences classes.

Define a Distance

Hunter-jumper riders and coaches use the words “distance” and “spot” to reference the exact geography in which a horse’s legs lift from the ground in front of a jump. A good “distance” or “spot” is a safe, aesthetically pleasing measurement - typically about 6 feet away from an average 3-foot jump.
To compete in AQHA-approved over-fences classes, you need a current AQHA membership. Join or renew today and enjoy the upcoming show season! Plus, take advantage of the hundreds of dollars in discounts and savings members enjoy each year!
1. Understand the 12-Foot Blueprint

Every great hunter ride follows a blueprint of specific strides, take-off and landing positions. Simple math rules the ride.

Hunters are expected to maintain a 12-foot average stride throughout a course to negotiate the obstacles properly and exhibit stellar jumping form. Without that rhythm, it’s difficult to find consistent distances.

“It’s custom to set a course of 3-foot jumps off the 12-foot stride, as long as the footing is good,” says Mike Christian, course designer for the AQHA and AQHYA world championship shows. “If the footing is too deep, we might shorten the lines a little because the horse has to work harder to get to the jumps.”
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2. Know Your Horse’s Stride

How long is your horse’s natural stride? How do you know when you’re galloping a 12-foot stride?

Horses that compete strictly in hunter events can quickly learn to pick up a consistent, 12-foot stride with training. However, many versatile Quarter Horse hunters also compete in other disciplines, such as horsemanship, so they must learn to be even more adjustable.
Read more about training tips for jumping at AQHA Daily.