Get a "Jumper" to slow down!
The horse I recently purchased and have been riding (mostly flat until now)has been doing jumpers for the last 5-6 years. I want to show in Hunters, but she thinks that jumps mean "lets go fast and race!". I can tell she's got her mind set on having fun and going all out when we go over even small fences or crossrails. She seems (most of the time) to have a soft mouth, so I don't want to just pull on her. I try half-halts, and I keep her collected, but if jumps are in the picture, she thinks she can go fast. Any tips on what I can do about her speed and excitement? I love that she loves it, she seems to have lots of fun. I just wish it could be more controlled so that we can be successful in hunters :)
Put trot poles in front of your fences and make her trot in and easy canter out.
Yep, trot poles. I've also tried circling before a jump, as well as asking a horse to stop before a jump. My first mare was just like this, but also had a hard mouth, so I would circle her until she was calm and responsive, then take the jump.
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An exercise my old trainer had me do was set up 2 jumps 4 strides apart, jump the first, do a circle then come back and do the second. At first if the horse is very fast and intent on doing the second jump it might be difficult to get a nice circle, keep circling until she is calm and at a nice easy pace then continue to the second jump, slowly work your way down to just one circle.
You can also use the same 2 jumps and jump the first, come around the outside and jump the second jump from the other direction, come around and do the first one in the other direction again (so you are jumping both jumps towards the inside of the line). Switch it up and jump from the inside, circle around and jump the other one from the inside too. By using a line and mixing it up so she doesn't know which direction she will be jumping from you are forcing her to listen more to you, she should slow down and wait for you to tell her where to go instead of just rushing to the next jump as fast as possible.
Thank you guys, I will try all of these tips, they sound great! She does really well when we trot ground poles, so maybe that will be an effective exercise for her when we are working with jumps as well. Thanks again!!
Come toward the jump at a canter, transition to trot and continue at the trot. Eventually when your horse is successfully jumping that way without rushing and you have the ability to canter nice and collected on the flat, approach at the canter, transition to trot and then transition to canter to the jump, canter away and then transition to trot.
DO NOT transition to halt right before the jump, we don't want to teach her to stop, do we? Take the jump and transition to halt AFTER the jump (keep things small), one rein stop, whatever you need to do, then let her continue as if nothing happened at a nice collected pace.
Use those exercises as well as trot poles and circles.
It really works wonders with them. My horse was a former drill horse, taught to just RUN he had no collection, no ability to bend, would grab the bit and plow over jumps at top speeds. The above exercises have gotten us to the point where we can maintain a collected canter through an entire course, ride lines without 'pulling' or 'plowing' and find good distances. It just takes lots of time and lots of patience and LOTS of flat work, so don't get discouraged if it doesn't happen over night.
Gymnastic exercises of all sorts. lots of bounces and dont give yourself long straight approaches.
Gymnastics are great, but with a horse with the above issues I definitely recommend having a trainer with you or somebody experienced on the ground to help you out. It sounds like the horse is quite green, and a green horse that likes to rush might have some trouble with gymnastics. It took us a long time to master them with my horse (similar issues) and we faced lots of stops, run outs, refusals, stops half way through because it was 'too hard' (in their heads, anyway) and dangerous behaviour. So start small, with poles and work up to one cross rail and poles, then two, etc. once you're completely comfortable with one stage then move on to the next.
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