Be Brave, Pony! Be Brave!!
I ride at a barn that is exclusively hunters and jumpers. However, one of our assistant trainers is an Eventer. She has mentioned taking a few of the horses up to do some cross-country schooling. I reeeeeally want to go.
Problem is, my horse isn't very confident. But I've been working REALLY hard, both on the ground and under saddle, to get him to be more trusting and brave. So on Sunday my trainer told me to jump around all the "scary" jumps in the arena. All of which he had never seen before. She instructed me on how to ride him up to it, and although i had to growl at him pretty loud at the black roll top, he jumped right over it! So aside from the fact that I'm super proud of him for being so brave. I'm feeling like he might be ready to move forward with some more complex questions.
So i want to know what you all do/did to prepare your horses for jumping cross country? How did you help them to become more brave and more bold?!
Tell me everything!!
Here are some pictures of the new jumps that we did on Sunday. Keep in mind, he's never seen anything like these before... so it kinda' blew his mind. haha!
Fingers crossed you get some good answers.. what an exciting switch though!!
Keep the schooling height on XC below your regular jumping height and start with the easy the questions and work your way up (also, end the session on something VERY easy so he goes back to the barn going "okay, that was fun!"). If there are more experienced horses going out, play follow the leader too! My mare enjoyed follow the leader and it built her XC confidence so much.
Make sure you have enough forward and brakes installed. Meaning your leg goes on, your horse goes forward, no.questions.asked. Growling is good, but the forward should come from your leg. Also make sure he stops no questioned asked too, although I ride XC in a sidepull because my mare needs very few brakes and she is more confident in a sidepull for whatever reason. Put a neckstrap, vest and helmet on and enjoy!
My mare is not naturally a bold horse, in fact sometimes she has melt downs going on simple trail rides, but she knows her job going cross country and will get her confidence from her rider. Not to say I am the most confident rider, I'm not, but she has been schooled to go when I say go. It always helps to tap them a bit with your crop too when you're approaching a fence YOU are afraid of :) Take out the fear with your crop. And if you're used to stadium jumping, don't be afraid to let your horse gallop a little bit on XC, I always thought we were going too fast, but upon watching videos we were just right, if not slow. But I also do not hesitate to trot to a fence of appropriate height if she is looky or if I am unsure of the approach.
If your horse jumped those stadium fences already, XC should be a breeze. Most XC fences are very natural, with nice natural groundlines and shape and are inviting for the horses.
HAVE FUN :)
The lower level XC fences are actually very inviting. They're usually nice solid natural objects like logs, walls, coops... probably all stuff you've jumped before I'm sure.
When I first started eventing, I didn't have the chance to school XC before my first event. Primo was actually more brave out there than he was on SJ.
If you decide to go, just point him at stuff he can step over if need be till you both feel confident to tackle the bigger obstacles.
great advice everyone!
I'm anxious to take him to his first schooling show next weekend (Jan 24th).
It will be the first time i've ever shown him since i bought him last July. He's gotten to be so brave since i bought him. So we'll see how it goes!
what everyone has said, but also remember that you need to be brave too! if you ride up to a jump thinking his to be scared, chances are....he will be(:
good luck and have fun!
good luck at your show !
some horses will find xc easier, because they get to open up their stride a bit more and they have more space in between jumps to have some down time. just start small, small enough that you can have him walk over it like a person if you need to ! =]
PrinceCharming you're so very right!
Do you guys tend to feel the horse respond the same way to a scary XC fence, the same way they do to a stadium fence? My horse never slams on the breaks, but he will run out. He hasn't run out of a fence in months, but for an example that black roll top fence... I rode him up to it and i could feel him suck up under me a bit, and his ears were nearly in my mouth. I growled at him "GOOOO INDY!!!" and he jumped it with his head between his knees. hahaha! I don't want to be too surprised by his possible reaction!
If I feel hesitation a little squeeze click or tap with a crop. I love using a loud HUP too.
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if you can try to make sure he doesnt run out, if he stops have him back up a few steps and trot up to the jump from there.
also, if you can trust him a bit, let the reins out a couple inches when you can tell he wants to look at the jump. horses see things from a distance from the bottom half of their eye, thats why they put their head up when the are approaching a jump. they see things close up from the top half of their eye, so they will want to put their head down in front of the jump to see it.
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