Join Date: May 2009
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Yeah, I always free jump my youngsters before starting actual jump training. It's hard enough for them to know how to balance with a rider over a jump, much less never having moved in that fashion before. Obviously some people don't, I just find it makes it a lot easier for the horse to understand the concept. I find it helps teach them that jumping is fun before making it work - if the first time you jump your horse is with a rider and he gets confused, knocks it down and bangs himself with the rail, he views it as a lousy experience. With free jumping, they're able to move at their own pace, set their own distances and really have fun with it. Obviously, always start very small and work up.
I also find it fantastic for building muscle. I've recently started lunging my 2 year old Paint over very small crossrails just to build some different muscles then just moving in circles. Sometimes she hops them, sometimes she just trots over, but either way she's picking up her feet and really working her hindquarters, shoulders and topline.
I hope God tells her to smash her computer with a sledgehammer.