Re-Training in Jumping
My 13 year old gelding was neglected for a few years before we bought him, and I'm pretty sure he knew how to jump beforehand. But now, two years later, he can't seem to figure it out. We have a lot of refusals, and he doesn't know how to do bounces, one striders, or anything like that. Does anyone have any tips? :?
How have you reintroduced jumping to him? Just so we can get a clearer picture.
My advice would be to take it as slow as needs be. Do lots of trotting poles with him, then put a flat tyre (or any other low object) under the one side of the trotting pole, raising them on one side so he can think about where he's putting his feet. Then start off small, very small, with simple crosses, just one at a time until he is clearing those happily. Then two, but not close together. Then slowly introduce him to a double. I usually leave the first jump of the combination down at first, so its just a pole/two poles lying next to each other on the ground between the uprights and trot him over that and then into the second part of the combination which is a small cross. Dont make the combination too short to begin with, give him three to four strides to let him work it out. I do this at a trot, and then at a canter. Once he's happy with that, put up the first part of the combination and let him go over that.
The point is to go slow and build up his confidence as refusals teach him bad habits. By taking it slow, you reduce the chance of refusals and give him time to happily find the jumper inside himself again! Once he is happily jumping the combination, shorten it, keeping the jumps short, eventually reduce it to a one strider (you might need to put the first fence down again to just the poles on the ground to give him the idea) and eventually to a bounce fence.
I like to keep fences low and do them at a trot first before doing them at the canter, I find it keeps the horse a bit calmer (some horses in my experience tend to rush into jumps at a canter) and gives them more time to work it out. But trotting poles and cavaletti really do help in the beginning! I also found that lunging over jumps sometimes help but I usually prefer tackling the problem in the saddle with jumping.
Thank you so much for those tips! And we do jump low at first and build up, we've gotten up to 2'3"! I'm going to try some of your exercises next time I jump.. Thanks!
Great post by munschk!
I'd like to add that while working over cavaletti and trot poles, focus on your position, staying still and out of the horse's way and doing as little as possible.
Part of the difficulty may be that you're trying to "help" him too much, which can cause confusion or balance issues.
Your job is to establish direction, pace and balance; his job is to jump the jump. So if he's heading straight to the jump, in an energetic, balanced gait, your job is done! Hold your position, keep your leg on, and let him do his part.
Thank you! Also, since he has some refulsal/turn out problems, my instructor told me to "ride him like a dressage horse- reins super short and be ready to correct anything he does wrong!" Is that correct?
Only if you're absolutely sure you're releasing completely. The problem with riding defensively (what you're instructor is suggesting) is that you run the risk of catching him in the mouth, and essentially punishing him for doing what you've asked.
Might be best to only jump him with an instructor present until you get this problem straightened out.
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