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Lunastriker 10-15-2008 12:30 PM

Jump Start
Ok, I have this amazing 3.5 year old horse who I have raised since the day he was born. This is my first foal, and I am sort of learning everything as I go. However, I am having a few training problems that I was hopeful I could get some advice about.

1) I'm having a bit of trouble getting him to turn tightly. At the walk he is excellent. At the trot, he is decent. But at the canter, his turns get very wide. Similarly, when he is outside the ring in an open field, everything gets sloppier. I am just assuming that part is because he is so young... but I thought it was worth mentioning.

2) I am having big trouble getting him to jump. He is so desensitized to everything, that he always just plows through the jumps and knocks off the posts. Seriously, he doesn't break stride at all, he just keeps a steady pace and goes straight through the posts as if they weren't even there. This can't feel good on his legs... I have walked him over a large tree that I often jump with my other horses, it is so large that he can not simply knock it away. At that tree, he has learned to pick up his feet most of the time... but I am afraid to go over it past a walk, for fear of him hurting his legs badly.

Any advice you could provide would be extremely appreciated.

Some things that might come in helpful:
-I am using a very mild D-ring snaffle bit
-This horse is extremely lazy and takes a good bit of encouragement to get moving beyond a walk
-He is very desensitized and is rarely afraid of anything
- I spent yesterday getting him used to some boots I had lying around, as you can see in the pictures. ( sorry they are so fuzzy... I have no idea why)

G and K's Mom 10-15-2008 01:31 PM

I'm sure some may disagree, but at 3.5 this horse is still learning how to use it's body.

The falling in or out at the canter is a sign that he is not balanced. Open up the circles and get him balanced on a larger circle.

I also feel that he's pretty young to be jumping, especially with a rider on his back and especially since it sounds like he doesn't have a good foundation quite yet. Maybe spending more time working him from the ground and under saddle over ground poles. Several ground poles set at a trot widths apart teaches them to judge distance and balance.

I'm sorry, this might sting, but that picture you posted of him looking at the boots with the reins hanging down around his feet is just wrong. If he were to step on the reins and jerk his head up he could break his jaw or damage his pole.

RusticWildFire 10-15-2008 01:38 PM

I have to agree with G&K on the too young part. My horse was still feeling very unbalanced at that age so I would barely canter him. He was the first horse I trained and I went by everyone's advice to hold off on the cantering. This is mostly to not push his bones and joints beyond what they are ready for.

Also I agree that it is way too young to start jumping due to the damage that could be permanently done to his joints. It'd be worth it to hold off a little while longer on that.

I'd say just take it easy with the cantering gradually making your circles smaller let him boost his confidence and get used to everything! Like they explained it to me with Hunter...It's like you trying to run with a really heavy backpack on. It takes time to get used to it and conditioned for it.

Good Luck! :)

He's beautiful by the way

Curly_Horse_CMT 10-15-2008 01:48 PM

I agree with both the posts above. Give your guy some more time just learning how to balence himself and get used to a rider. If you are patient enough with him things will come in time as long as you are persistant and take it slow.

AKPaintLover 10-15-2008 04:20 PM

again, I have to agree. Keep working at that flat, and hold off on the jumping for another couple of that time he will have a better sense of how to move with a rider on him, how to move his feet, how to balance himself...and he will be more mentally ready to handle jumping. Mentally, he is still just a baby :D

Spirithorse 10-15-2008 08:43 PM

I'm also going to agree. Three is very young to be jumping and he isn't going to know how to balance himself. Hold off on that. You've got plenty of time:-)

One exercise you can do under saddle to get him more motivated to move is an exercise called point-to-point. This is excellent for motivating the lazy horse! Start this at the walk. Ride off on a loose rein to a really good grassy spot not too far away and stop and let him eat. The harder it was to get him there (meaning if he didn't move off well or if he was really sluggish) the longer you let him graze. This creates incentive. Pick another spot and repeat. The distances shouldn't be too far away right now. When you feel he has more pep in his step ask him to trot. Again, the harder it is to get him to trot the longer you let him eat. Some might think this is rewarding the horse for lazy behavior but this is not the case. You're telling the horse, "The faster you get to where I want you to go the sooner you will get to eat." Soon he will be trotting off quick. So when he puts more effort into it you don't let him stay as long. Do this at the canter as well. Soon you will be able to go all over the place, at any gait you wish, and have him be motivated because he knows that eventually he will get to stop and eat. The more you do this exercise the longer the distances in between stops becomes.

If you are in an arena the same idea applies except there is no food involved. You can set up cones at each corner, or not, whatever you want, and as you ride off stop at each corner. So use the same ideas as above and soon you can ride around the arena for awhile and not have the horse act lazy. My warmblood is on the lazy side and I usually ride him outside and this exercise as made a huge difference in his motivation and his attitude. He actually trots off with his ears up now.

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