Purpose of Free Jumping?
What is the purpose of free jumping? I seen people do it at the CNE and stuff and also at home, but what is it really for? I was just wondering because I have never done it with my horse before because I never really understood the purpose. Am I supposed to do it with her? :-) Thank you!
It is a way to teach horses to jump naturally. It helps them learn to adjust their striding to find the perfect distance, it helps them bascule better and it helps to build jumping muscles on horses that are too unfit or young to jump with weight on them. That being said, no you don't have to free jump your horses. It's just a fun and beneficial alternative to riding them over jumps. It also helps them stretch and pick up their feet. Many dressage competitors free jump their horses every once in a while for cross training, to get them to really stretch over their toplines and use their hindquarters. It's also fun for them although you need to make sure they understand what you're telling them, because if you run up to a fence and stop and let go of them, 99% chance of them stopping too because they were trained to stop when you stop. So be persistent and patient in teaching them what to do and it can be a fun little exercise for them.
Thank you. :)
That cleared up a lot.
However, if I were to free jump my horse, how would I know what height the jump should be at?
Start out with some nice low crossrails, then as they start to understand you can do pretty much anything. Grids, bounces, lines, big oxers. Just gradually make it harder or higher as the horse gets fitter and better at it. You can tell if they are being pushed too hard or having fun or getting bored. Let your horse let you know when to change it up and make it more difficult. But remember to keep the sessions short since they're working hard!
Yeah, I always free jump my youngsters before starting actual jump training. It's hard enough for them to know how to balance with a rider over a jump, much less never having moved in that fashion before. Obviously some people don't, I just find it makes it a lot easier for the horse to understand the concept. I find it helps teach them that jumping is fun before making it work - if the first time you jump your horse is with a rider and he gets confused, knocks it down and bangs himself with the rail, he views it as a lousy experience. With free jumping, they're able to move at their own pace, set their own distances and really have fun with it. Obviously, always start very small and work up.
I also find it fantastic for building muscle. I've recently started lunging my 2 year old Paint over very small crossrails just to build some different muscles then just moving in circles. Sometimes she hops them, sometimes she just trots over, but either way she's picking up her feet and really working her hindquarters, shoulders and topline.
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