Overexcited over Jumps - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 02-20-2014, 12:39 AM Thread Starter
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Overexcited over Jumps

I need some advice on getting my Thoroughbred to calm down and stay on the bit while doing a course. Anytime we start running through a jumping course he gets so excited, throws his head up, and rushes the fence. His flat work is beautiful, its just while we are jumping that it gets messy. As soon as he catches sight of another jump I can feel myself losing connection. His back caves down, his hind legs go out from under me, and his head goes up. The only thing that seems to help is circling him before the jump to get him calmed down again, and it helps. But, as you can imagine, I can't be doing that before every jump in a course. I've had him and all our tack checked with my vet and trainer and they say nothing is hurting him. I use a running martingale for a bit more contact, but it hardly seems to help. Any help is appreciated! Thank you!
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post #2 of 6 Old 02-20-2014, 12:59 AM
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Go right back to basics. A single pole on the ground. Walk over it, and keep walking over it until you can meet the pole in a nice relaxed way every time and meet it at the same spot 99% of the time. Then trot over it, same thing, then canter. Once you can do that, add another pole at what ever distance you choose, 4 or 5 strides normally works the best. Same thing, walk, then trot, then canter. Keep adding poles until you can quietly canter over a course of poles. Once you can do that, then start with a single cross rail. Trot and canter over it until your horse is relaxed and then build on it as per the poles.

It might take a few weeks but it has worked with all my TB's.
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post #3 of 6 Old 02-20-2014, 01:17 AM
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If you're using a running martingale to create more contact, it's adjusted way too tight. The rings should reach the top of the wither or into the jowl of a horse with its head relaxed. The RM should only ever become engaged when the horse tosses his head up and back, it's to help prevent one's nose from getting smashed.
Do you have a video? What is you flat routine like? What do you school on the flat? Do you know how to half halt? Are you working with a coach?
My best guess is that you're freezing up and not riding to the base of the fence. Very easy for a horse to start to rush and take advantage. Your job is to learn how to become an effective rider to the base of the fence, stay balanced through the jump and regain control on the landing side.

Here are some exercises to try:
- circles are your best friend. You shouldn't be showing if you can't school at home in a controlled manner, so don't worry about that right now. Circles. Horse locks on a jump? Circle. Half halt in the circle and work some counter and true bend into it. Do some shoulder fore or haunches in/out. Circle until you have a nice pace, then proceed to the jump, circle after it.
- Do 1-4 jumps (this works very well with cavaletti) on a 20-m circle, equidistant from one another. Adjust your striding between them - challenge yourself to get 7 strides in, and 4, and remember to work your track to get the striding. Circle in and out of those jumps. This is an excellent exercise no matter what level you're at or what kind of horse you have - it's strangely difficult.
- set up a few canter poles in front of the jump and a landing pole. This will require him to think about each stride in and out.
- work on your halt. Halt a few strides out, and make it clear from much further out that it's your intention. Stand still and praise. Take the fence without taking him off of it.
- jump, halt ( only a few strides out), turn on forehand or haunches, jump the same fence going the other way, halt, turn on forehand or haunches, jump, halt, rinse repeat.
- don't make your courses predictable. Got a simple outside line and diagonal course set out? Use the jumps to create some more complex turns so that you are making the horse think.
- use your corners/turns to rebalance. Do a half halt into a shoulder in, make the horse work around the turn.

For the rider:
- jelly elbows. You need to be able to follow and stay in motion. If you freeze up, your elbows aren't moving and the rest of you isn't moving. Keep you elbows flexible.
- keep your abs engaged, draw yourself up through your belly button. First step when going from a walk on a loose rein to being on contact is tightening your core. Keep tension in your core.
- keep weight through the back of the calf, ensure you have a strong base of support without pinching your knee.

Video would be immensely helpful to see what's going on.
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post #4 of 6 Old 02-20-2014, 07:34 PM
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Yeah, this sound like a flat work issue rather than a jumping one. You already do the circling exercise. Have you tried halting on a straight line after fences when schooling at home?

Another exercise I like is set up two poles about 4 strides apart. Canter over the first pole, make a large circle and canter over that same pole again this time proceeding to the second pole. Do the same circle back over the second pole and then continue on until you get back to the poles. Mix that exercise up every which way until horsie gets the idea that you are dictating where you go next, not him.

Grids also seem to help excitable horses calm down since the spacing is all set up for them and all the guesswork is eliminated. There's a zillion different ways to set those up, so go nuts.

Finally, no poles involved, forward-back. Sit tall, collected canter to 2-point hand gallop, back to collected canter. Change it up every 10 strides or so and don't take any answer from your horse other than collected or hand gallop.

Hope those help.

You just have to see your distance...you don't have to like it.
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post #5 of 6 Old 03-26-2014, 05:11 AM
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I had the same issue with my TB ad it is MANDATORY that you sort this out, otherwise he will find it too hard to jump in the wrong sort of shape and start stopping.
What I did was used canter poles in and out of a singe low jjump, that will teach him to think when he jumps. After a while of just doing one, try a grid of bounces with a trot pole in and MAKE HIM TROT!
Lots of half halts and just sit on his back, don't move, sit liek you are on a couch. If you get excited, the horse will get excited. Keep trying!! It works

Thanks
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post #6 of 6 Old 03-26-2014, 05:37 PM
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Oh duh, I just thought of the most telling exercise for your problem. Jump fence and then halt on a straight line. Never do it when facing another fence. Think halt while going over the fence, sit tall and halt, no exceptions. Much easier said than done, but it will definitely show you any holes in your flat training.

You just have to see your distance...you don't have to like it.
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