My horse knocks down poles a lot when jumping. He may go over one and keep it up, then go over again and knock it down. And he hits them a lot, even if they don't fall. He enjoys jumping and has had experience jumping 2'6"; I'm new so I have the jumps at about a foot and a half. Why is this? Is he tired, careless? Is there anything I can do to keep him from knocking so many? He usually takes off long to the jumps, so this is probably a reason to...
It could be possible that you're not giving him enough release. It's hard to say, though, without pictures/videos of him jumping to see where the problem lies.
If you haven't found a trainer to sort out your problems on the flat, you shouldn't be adding jumping into the mix.
If a horse knocks a jump and there are no consequences they will keep doing it because it is way easier than actually picking up their feet. If my horse knocks a jump I will use my voice to tell them they are doing something wrong. A loud "hey" or "ahh" or something is usually enough. If the horse has been getting away with it for a long time a verbal reprimand may not be enough a light tap with a crop may be needed.
Now after I have said that all I am going to say what I should have said first. If he has been clearing jumps fine and all of a sudden isn't I would first check for pain or tack fit. If they are fine, take a good hard look at your riding, are you inadvertently doing something to hinder how he jumps? (not giving enough release, not getting off his back, jumping ahead making it hard for him to lift his front end over the jump etc.). If all of that is fine then he is just being lazy and what I said above should work.
Is he hitting behind or in front? It makes a difference in analyzing what is wrong with the bascule/arc of the fence. Is he leaving the ground too early, or crawling up the fence? Are you using caveletti to an X (with a ground line)? If not, why not. And some horses are just plain sloppy because of a little fence, changing the type of fences can help this.
Instead of pointing him at the jump and expecting him to clear it - instead place a pole in front of the jump about the same height as the jump - then learn to adjust his stride so that he comes to the base of the pole and jumps. Also ensure that his canter has some "jump" TO IT - I.E. the canter can NOT be flat - in the "up" stride he is getting his hind legs underneath himself.
That means Half Halts (search the dressage section - I have explained how to train a Half Halt (HH) there several times). So once you AND your horse know how to do/respond to HH's then come towards the jump - HH 3 strides out, HH just before pole (it rocks him back onto his hind end) then bend forward at waist and allow horse to jump. Unless you have the reins so tight your gagging him he should have plenty of "release" in the reins to allow for such a small jump.
If he is jumping in the canter and you have good HH's then the jump will be clean. It is all about "preparation" - a good rider properly prepares the horse for an activity (jump/ Flying change, etc...) to allow the activity to be correct.
I agree it could be alot of things.Is the horse tall? When I jump our TBs, they are pretty lazy over small jumps and don't really give it their all, mostly because they are so long legged, it is much easier to just be lazy then to jump over something that is more like a giant ground pole. Are the jumps made from light weight pipes? If they are, try using something a little more solid, like 2" thick poles that are much harder to knock down and may cause them to feel the pole hitting their legs so they will learn to pick them up more. Is your horse wearing boots? if so, take the boots off temporarily so that the horse can feel the jump hitting their leg.
To test if it might be a rider issue, try lungeing your horse over a few 18" crossrails and verticles. If he jumps fine without a rider, then we can assume that you are inadvertently giving him some signal that has him jumping like that. Hopefully you can figure out the problem and fix it. It is no fun to ride over jumps that have to be put back together after each take off!! Good luck!
Try lunging over SOLID obstacles--maybe there are some outdoors to use? That's safer for you, and will punish him if he's lazy. He'll understand this better than using your voice. The other suggestions are excellent.
I'm a beginner jumper, but I have this problem with the very low jumps I do. I fixed it by buying plastic flowers and inserting them into holes I drilled into a landscape pole and set it at the base of the jump. He didn't want to step on the flowers so he began picking up his feet and clearing them.
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