YOU ARE NOT A PASSENGER YOU ARE PART OF THE TEAM.
Want to improve your performance at the next race? Want to save your horse? Want to be ONE with your horse? Go to the hardware store and get a rope, 3/8 nylon about 10 feet long. Attach it to the headstall or bit on the left side. Learn to ride with the reins and the rope in your hand at the same time. Then you can jump off when ever you want and still be in control.
ALWAYS GET OFF WHEN YOU CAN GO FASTER ON FOOT.
This is usually on steep up hills and steep down and when encountering obstacles. They’re a number of advantages to this strategy.
1. You will quickly learn what the horse has to put up with as far as rocks, soft sand, snow, ice and the like. Then when riding you will be better able to set the proper pace.
2. While you are off take a quick look at the shoes, are they all on? Check your horse, is he lame or moving with difficulty? Check his alertness and general countenance.
3. Run or walk at a pace that fits both you and your horse so you two will get into a rhythm.
4. It saves the horses energy; it is like money in the bank when you need it. You will quickly notice that when you get back on you have a new horse. Rested and ready to go.
5. By getting off you can stretch out get a change of position so when you are back in the saddle you will be a better rider.
IN AN ENDURANCE RACE THE RIDER IS COMPLETELY EXPENDABLE IT IS THE HORSE THAT MUST BE CONSERVED.
When you get off you have several options. One is to run ahead of the horse and lead. If the horse is not used to running behind you he may come to close and step on your heels. This will not help your race at all. You can take hold of his tail and the running rope and run somewhat assisted behind tailing. Again the horse must be trained to do this. The easiest way to train a horse to tail is to get a long 10 feet, or so thin pole and gently guide him as you urge him alone. Now you have to know your horse pretty well to get right behind him and control the direction from the rear but with the running rope and a few hand signals it can be done very effectively. Start training on a narrow trail going up hill.
All of the above will put you much closer, both mentally and physically to your horse. It is rewarding to have such a bond. Give it a try but be careful. Also in a crowded race the other riders are not too considerate of someone on the ground so be careful.