If you have difficulty finding the right take-off spots on course, you should find a vast improvement in your ability to see distances if you’ll do the following:
In your mind, divide the arena down the middle lengthwise. Pretend that at the middle of one short side of the arena, you have a letter “A” posted. Then, in your mind post a letter “B” at the middle of the other short side of the arena. When you complete your initial circle as you prepare to jump the course, your circle will end at letter “A.” At this point, you should have established a 12-foot length of stride at a hand-gallop, with your body in two-point position to free the horse’s back and allow it to easily cover the ground. As you pass your imaginary letter “a,” look to the first line of fences and DON’T TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE LINE OF JUMPS. This is essential, for anything you’ve gained by looking early for your distance will be lost if you look away. Now, extend your horse’s stride from letter “a” to the first fence, for although you’ve established a 12-foot stride on your circle, the corner preceding the first fence will cause your horse to shorten its stride and slow down a little. Keep extending the stride through the corner and beyond, so that the horse’s stride is incrementally getting longer as you approach the fence. This will guarantee enough impulsion to get you out of trouble, no matter what take-off spot you see, and will help the horse get down the first line in the number of strides prescribed by the design of the course.
If you’ll keep your eyes on each upcoming line from letters “A” and “B” and will press the horse forward through the corners on the approach to the first fence in each line, you’ll most likely find that your ability to see distances will immediately improve. Remember that safety is in the horse’s impulsion, which enables it to clear an obstacle; so, be bolder to each line and see if this works better for you.