Ronny Riemer described a scene he sees over and over again as a trainer and clinician: Everybody wants to know the secret to finding the perfect distance over fences, but they constantly get in the way of their horse.
“A lot of riders are scared when they don’t see a distance,” he described. “They come around a turn and go, ‘shoot, I don’t see anything. So I pull one more time, and it’s still not there, so I pull again’. The stride gets shorter and you get this choppy distance, because the horse won’t be able to go with the long stride with less and less momentum.”
Ronny, who may be better known for his viral videos as “The German Riding Instructor”, says that in this scenario, the rider is the problem.
“I try to explain, don’t be the biggest burden to your horse while you ride,” he said. “You just want to be a guiding tool for your horse in show jumping. You want to keep a nice forward rhythm, and let the horse do its job.”
For riders who struggle with finding distances to the takeoff and landing spots over fences, Ronny suggests working on ground pole and cavaletti work to sharpen the sense of feel, balance and rhythm.
“We as riders are the worst thing that can happen to a horse that just wants to jump clean. This micromanagement has to be eliminated. It’s counter productive.”
“People always underestimate a straight and rhythmic horse. The distance you have is secondary,” explained Ronny, who owns and trains out of RCR Equestrian in Ocala. “As long as you have a horse that is forward, balanced and sitting on the hind end, you don’t need to get so hung up to always hit right on the spot.”
Ronny will show videos of riders at the top of the sport, like McLain Ward and Beezie Madden, to his students to analyze their distances to the fences.
“It’s eye opening when you look at it this way. Sometimes they’re a little deep or a little wide. They don’t always have the perfect take off or landing. But they get away with it because they have a forward moving horse that is light in the front end, sitting on the hind end, and is balanced and straight. This is the most important part,” he said.
“We as riders are the worst thing that can happen to a horse that just wants to jump clean,” Ronny continued. “This micromanagement has to be eliminated. It’s counter productive. The rider should be the perfect little minion, sitting in the middle of the saddle to smoothly guide them, and let the horse do their job.”