Refusals: preventing frustration of a green horse
This isn't a huge issue for me, as I already have a plan that has worked thus far, but was curious as to what others do when their very green horse refuses a fence (or trot pole). I have seen a lot of different ways people deal with this, such as making the horse back up then go over the jump immediately, turning the horse and approach the fence again, not letting the horse leave the fence but kick them over it (regardless of the ugly protest that is made by the horse, or tons of rider/horse frustration), etc. Right now my boy is still very green over fences. We have been working quite often over trot poles though. If he refuses to walk/trot over a pole or set of poles, I try to get him to do so without turning away from the pole(s). If he starts to back up, I squeeze and turn him a little so he knows he isn't alowed to run backwards and that he has somewhere to go. If that seems to turn into a big ordeal, I circle him in front of the pole(s) a few times (in his case allowing him to work next to the poles and relax), then straighten back out and ask him to go over them again. The reason I do not sit there trying to shove him over the fence (though I DO try to make him go over first) is because I don't want to frusterate him to the point of making poles a bad thing. I put up a TINY crossrail today (height of a raised trotting pole) to walk over and he was concerned with the raised ends of the poles (in the jump cups). I used this method today and it worked (after refusing, circling a few times in front then going over). He first jumped it, then he figured out he could just walk over. What are your methods of frustration-free jump/pole training?
It sounds like he isnt ready to be jumping yet.
He is in front of your leg when you ride him on the flat and how responsive is he to your leg ?
Some horses need more time working on ground poles, and between standards than others. This is just a manifestation of his green-ness. Take him back and start over and SLOWER to basic jump training. The refusals will just get worse, and you will start learning to fly (over his head.)
I have been working with a young horse on starting jumping. He is pretty wary of anything new, and very quick on his feet.
We started with a pole on the ground, until he could w/t/c over without leaping. Then two, three, four poles, raised poles, put the poles between standards and finally I had to bite the bullet and put up an x-rail.
Because I come from a dressage background, I train the horses that there is one place to go and that is right smack in the middle of my knees, on the line which I dictate. Speed and gait comes secondary. Putting a fence in the way does not change this. So I rode him to the fence and he did his best cutting horse impression trying to dodge out from either side and I just sat there riding straight until inevitably he stopped in front of the fence and then I again, just sat there. Eventually he got up the courage to get over the terrifying fence (all 6" of it) and thank goodness for mane.
The horse now comfortably jumps 2'6" lines, less than 6 months after the first introduction to poles, working at most once a week, more like one or two times a month. If you approach an exercise with confidence and a plan, and have prepared the horse for it adequately, training a horse is actually extremely easy. I take the same approach to trailer loading, and both my horses self load. Because the objective is clear, because it is made easy.
I fail to understand how a horse is supposed to get to go over a fence from circling beside it. Or to go into a trailer. A baby horse learns to cross a ditch because mom went over it first. Not because she endlessly circled beside it. Mom is not kicking baby to go over the ditch, mom is waiting patiently nickering on the other side of the ditch. This is how training should be approached, in a way natural to the horse, not natural to the human.
I like your methods, Anabel. That's kinda how I trained Buster to handle gates, which he was wary of. My other two just push them open with their noses. I'd work him in my 55 ft. x 65 ft. training area, then untack, brush and unhalter him in it with the gate shut, but not latched. I let him figure out how to get himself back to the herd. Now, it isn't a problem.
Perhaps the OP could set up a ground pole at the gate, so that her horse must cross it to leave?
^^^^^We have a BINGO! Sorry that was meant for Anabel's post, lol!
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Also, Corporal, we started with just a single trot pole, then went to two, and then three. We have recently been working over trot poles between two standards. I started him over trot poles months ago, before he even jumped under saddle for the first time. So again, we aren't jumping, these are just normal trot poles and a raised trot pole (which he has done before over a cavaletti-- it just didn't have the raised ends like a crossrail does). Therefore, I know the issue was the raised ends (like a crossrail, in the jump cups).
Also, just pointing out, this thread was not for a critique of my methods, but a place for others to share theirs. I know he isn't 100% ready to jump, hence why we are not.
Sky used to bronco dodge trotting poles. Until I had him loose and I would walk over them and he'd try to follow. I'd wait and when he took a step over it he'd get praise. Eventually he did it on his own. Then we tried it on the lungeline and he'd leap over them. So I'd demonstrate how to do it, and he did.
Keep in mind this is back when I had no clue what I was doing, but it worked for him. And now he's able to do it under saddle :)
I guess time for him to put his big boy pants on and just GO.
I also agree with working over poles at the w/t/c before jumping. I did that with another baby I worked with, but this boy needs to get better at his canter before we introduce canter poles. It is definitely on the agenda though!
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