Firstly, before you begin to jump practice your jumping position over the flat.
When you are really good at it and feel completly in balance with your horse at a walk, trot and canter, introduce trotting poles (start with one and build up to 6 in a row, around 5 feet apart, this will change depending on your horse).
Make sure you are holding the position with your back tall and your weight in your heels. Repeat the exercise until you can do it without losing balance. It's fine to grab a neckstrap or mane until you can do it without holding on.
Introduce a small jump at the end of the trotting poles (no higher than 1"). Go over it exactly as you did the trotting poles.
Next come at the jump again, this time sit well up (rising trot) for the trotting poles. As you feel your horse lift off the ground, let your upper body fold forward slightly into your jumping position, remembering to grab the neck strap or mane. NO NOT throw yourself forward, this will unbalance your horse and you will probably fall off. If your horse only trots over the jump, raise it slightly.
When you can do the jump confidently in a trot, take away the trotting poles and build 2-3 other small jumps around the arena, working on keeping your heels down and NOT throwing yourself forward as you negotiate small courses (in trot). Your horse may land in canter, this is fine but pick up a trot before the next fence.
Now the real fun begins!!! Pick up a canter and canter over the jump just as you did from trot, grab the neckstrap and concentrate on your position and only fold forward a little bit as the horse takes off. Make sure your shoulders are back, you are looking where you are going and your heels are down. Build wings to keep your horse straight while you learn how to do it if needed.
Once you are confident over one fence in canter, start little courses, gradually making them bigger. Do not jump higher than you feel safe jumping.
If you are having trouble, go back to the previous step and then slowly build up again.
Make sure you have a neckstrap (a stirrup leather fastend around the horse's neck will do) to hold onto.
Your horse should be wearing boots and your stirrups should be 1-2 holes shorter than normal. A back protector and helmet is advisable.
It is almost impossible to have the correct jumping position in a dressage or western saddle, make sure you are using a jumping or GP saddle that fits you and your horse.
Get a trainer to help you or at least video yourself and watch the videos yourself.
ALWAYS have someone present when you are jumping.
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!!
-Abigail, Riding Coach