Any tips on how to introduce a young mare to learning how to jump and make it fun and interesting so that I can keep her mind on track. Thanks for any tips.
I start every horse jumping by introducing free jumping. This can be done on a lunge if your horse is well trained on the lunge, or just in an open pen with a chute set up to the jump. I prefer this because I think every horse should learn where his feet are first and learn the dynamics of what I'm asking before asking him to do it with my weight as well. Horses also seem to greatly enjoy free jumping, so it gives them a nice fun start to jumping. If the first time you face a fence, the horse struggles to find his balance under you weight and ends up knocking the jump and having you fall onto his back or neck, he's not going to associate it with a good thing.
After that, I would perfect ground pole work. Have her doing ground poles at all gaits, make them on straight lines, curves, serptintines, etc. to get her soft and supple. I would then gradually introduce a tiny crossrail that they could step over easily if need be.
I started my Arab mare in this fashion and she absolutely lives to jump. She gets excited when she sees fences and practically insists we go over them. I never over did the work on her and always alternated it with fun flat work and rewards. I also never overfaced her which is a huge problem. We spent literally six months on crossrails, which may be excessive, but I'm not a jump trainer by profession and I wouldn't move her up until we were jumping them with ease. To many people want to go from no jumping to doing 3'0" courses in the span of six months, and you really need to listen to your horse if you want a happy jumper who enjoys his/her work in my opinion.
Best of luck!
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