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Position on the bit and driving force in the approaches

REF HA55, approaching fences, Riding lesson, Show Jumping, Position on the bit, Jump approach

Gilles, a professional rider from the Haras de Hus, came for a clinic with Michel Robert.  He rides “Charles de Gaulle”. Today’s lesson focuses on improving the horse’s position on the bit and his propulsion as he approaches fences.

This work session takes place on a grass footing. Michel rides Conrad de Hus to demonstrate the positions, attitudes and actions needed to reach the expected results.

The lesson starts with some flat work and getting the horse on the bit at the three gaits. Michel offers an easy solution without the help of any rein-aids that he has banned from his training method years ago. This session proves one more time the effectiveness of his work principle based on the respect for the physical integrity of the horse.

As the session goes on, the rider learns to combine the position on the bit with the improvement of the quality of the canter as he approaches fences. The solution offered by Michel leads quickly to good results without going through the classical dressage training which can deaden some horses.


Approaching fences, it would be ideal to have the horse round and on the bit, with a good strided quality canter. To reach these conditions, the rider has to give priority to the pushing force and forward movement. Charles de Gaulle has a tendency to be a bit slow in his hind legs and not lift his back. To solve these issues, Michel advises Gilles, to get a stronger canter further away from the jump and to come with strides that decrease closer to the jump.

The solution is to alternate transitions within the gait until the horse settles round on the bit.


Most riders have a tendency to do the opposite which is to close the horse in from afar and let him open up in the approaches on the pretext to give him more freedom…at that moment, the horse goes above the bit and loses his pushing force and engagement.

The proposed solution here is to stock up some strength in order to regulate it close to the fence.

Once we’re successful, meaning when the horse gets used to staying on the bit in the approaches, we can modify the work by approaching fences with steady strides, and then increasing the stride length.

18 min 50