Scary first jump - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 08-26-2010, 05:23 PM Thread Starter
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Scary first jump

After owning my thoroughbred for a year I am noticing a little quirk about him that I would really like to fix.

Whenever we go to say a jump with a rolltop, water or a grid with something a little different than he has ever seen before he will stop at the jump. BUT, he only needs to look at it and if i bring him right back to it he will go over it just fine (maybe a little overjump, but not much). Also, if the jump gets higher or if we approach the same jump from a different direction he stops. But its usually only the first jump. If say the 5th jump in a course is scary he won't even look at it. And he could care less about flower boxes

Obviously this can be a problem at shows. What can I do?

We also have a no jumping rule without the trainer at my barn so I can't just jump all these things to get him used to it. I jump once or twice a week.
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post #2 of 9 Old 08-27-2010, 08:56 PM
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Since you can only jump with the trainer present, I would desensitize your horse to new sights without jumping them. Try leading your horse up to a jump they have never seen before and just sniff/look at it. Then lead your horse around the jump a few times. Hopefully when you actually jump these jumps your horse will remember that they're not scary. Good luck to you and your horse!

Hope this helps <3
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post #3 of 9 Old 08-28-2010, 03:55 PM
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At a show, if you are allowed to walk a course, walk up to each jump. let your horse look at it and get used to it being there.
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post #4 of 9 Old 08-28-2010, 06:09 PM
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I agree with both of the above posters. Walk the course, let him get a good sniff (if it's allowed) show him lot's of scary things, even if he isn't going to jump them (when your trainer isn't there) and make him walk over them.

My suggestion is to TALK TO YOUR TRAINER! Tell him/her about this problem, and work on it. Get as many scary things out there as possible. During lessons, try to focus on desensitization. Put towels and tarps over things, use jumps that are painted differently. Put weird things under and around the jumps. Make your horse think that it isn't scary.

Good luck!
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post #5 of 9 Old 08-28-2010, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the suggestions. It's an odd thing. He is 10 years old and a seasoned hunter/jumper but sometimes little changes spook him for a sec. He won't run out, he'll just stop and sniff it. Then of course i turn him around and bring him right back to it and he goes over it just fine. But in a show in the middle of a class he can't look at every jump ;)
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post #6 of 9 Old 09-03-2010, 11:48 PM
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Yeah definitely agree, if there's a variation in the jump he's never seen before. Let him sniff the jump before you start the course.
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post #7 of 9 Old 09-04-2010, 10:20 AM
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In the Eventing World, it is a no-no to allow your horse to sniff the fences. You have to think of it, your horses are not allowed to see the course before the comp, the only time they get to see the Cross Country Course and the Stadium Course, is the moment they are in the ring at the comp itself.

I remember riding with Buck Davidson a few years back and when he saw riders allowing their horses to walk up to "questionable" fences to sniff them and look at them, he would say "That is not allowed"

He explained when you are approaching a fence, where you feel your horse balking under you - your ride harder and more agressively. Use your aids, and your aid extensions. Seat, legs, voice, spurs, crop. And you ride hard on approach, keeping your horse between you and strait.

I rode in a clinic, a few months ago, under a 3* Eventer and she said the same thing. Ride hard, use your aids, use your aid extensions and get aggresive about going forward, not balking.


I have a Practicle Horseman Magazine dated June 2006. Where it has a huge article on a clinic George Morris gave. This issue of a horse spooking at fences, made me remember this particular article:

Next comes a simple plank fence, and then a large log-like giant slice of redwood trunk. "I'm going to teach you how to educate your horses to a spooky jump. Remember, a bold horse is produced by a bold rider. So walk up to the log....right up to it," he tells the first rider. But as her horse sticks out his nose towards the log, "Don't let him sniff it! Just stand in front of it and give him a stick and a cluck, a stick and a cluck. How do you use your stick? A stroke behind the saddle, then right back to the rein. Remember that, when you use your stick. A horse shouldn't be afraid of it. He should respect it but not be afraid he's going to be abused. So it's a stroke of the stick and a cluck."

"Now circle, and jump the jump. If he stops, don't think why he stopped. Do something about it." She circles, her horse jumps, and the next one walks up. As each horse responds to the stick-and-a-cluck by jumping the log, George says, "THIS is how you educate a horse to a jump-not by letting him sniff it."

A small course starts to emerge: The girls jump the plank and four short strides away, the log. Then it's the plank to the log and a sweeping rollback left turn between the two jumps to a wall with big shadowy openings underneath. "Don't trust it," George says. "It's a spooky jump!" When one horse overjumps the wall and bolts upon landing, he says, "Stop and back him. School consistently. Don't finish and do nothing. Set that pulley rein. I taught you that so you'd use it."

George then picks up a longe whip, and standing next to a liverpool with a low rail over it, whip at the ready should a horse hesitate or refuse, he tells the girls to drop their stirrups and "pop this little liverpool. CLUCK!"

"Use your spur or your stick just as you take off! Don't hope he'll go by talking to him. I want you and your horse so confident about this liverpool that it's just like a crossrail to you."

Finally, George stands on the far side of another spooky jump, bursting with flowers, and raises his arm in the air. As each girl approaches the jump, he says, "Let me hear it! How many fingers am I holding up?" With each go-round, he changes fingers faster and faster, with the girls shouting "Three! Five! One! Three! Two!" Each horse clears the jump athletically and unhesitatingly, and George says with satisfaction "That's what I want. Talking Parrots!"

George has the girls come into the center of the ring and says "We covered a lot of territory today. The single plank was the next easiest jump, to instill confidence. This sport is built on confidence. Next, you educated your horse to a spooky fence-but not by letting him sniff it, but with a tick and a cluck so he leraned to associate something spooky with going forward. We put together a little course, you built confidence over a liverpool, and the last exercise was all about concentration, distraction and relaxation. By concentrating on my fingers, you were distracted, and you relaxed....and the jump took care of itself."


Hope that helps!

Last edited by MIEventer; 09-04-2010 at 10:26 AM.
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post #8 of 9 Old 09-04-2010, 02:37 PM
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Very good article ^^
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post #9 of 9 Old 09-04-2010, 04:03 PM
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I'll have to go through my collection and find that article of Practical Horseman, MIE.
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