A common problem among hunter seat riders is finding a bad spot to the first fence in a class. It usually results from the rider coming out of his initial circle at too dull a pace, so that he looks at the first fence only to see a deep distance or a distance that is much too long for the amount of impulsion his horse has. This leaves him with two choices: (1) place the horse at the deep spot, then struggle to lengthen the horse’s strides to the second fence; or (2) try to jump from the long spot out of too little impulsion, in which case the horse will either make a dangerously weak attempt or will chip in, adding an extra stride at the base of the fence.
Often, when a rider meets a bad spot to the first fence in a couple of classes, he becomes so preoccupied with that fence that he spends the rest of the show worrying about it. If you have this problem, concentrate on using the time you have during the initial circle to steadily increase the horse’s pace. Look at the first line as you cross the centerline of the ring and keep your eyes riveted on it while driving the horse forward through the corner, preventing it from shortening its stride. Try to “override” the approach to the first line a little by having more impulsion than you think you need. By doing this, you will have about the right amount to the first fence and will find a better spot.