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Fourpaws 11-26-2010 09:34 AM

Any tips on how to train a horse to jump?
So i might buy this horse but he isn't jump trained. I jump somewhat when riding horses. He has never gone over ground poles nothing. He is a dressage horse who has been ridden near jumps but never done them.

I just want to know if anyone has any tips or things they want to add to my training schedule. Yes i have how i will do this planned out already:
  1. Start out on the lunge line with him trotting ground poles. when he can perfectly trot one we will add more. after that add more etc.
  2. When he can trot at least 3 or 4 we will canter 1 or 2 on the lunge.
  3. When he can do both those things we will then do them with me in the saddle.
  4. While working on that in the saddle we will start to do TINY cavalettis (sorry my spelling is terrible :oops:) on the lunge. (6 inches off the ground)
  5. As he gets better and better at those things we will make the cavalettis higher and higher.
  6. Once he can jump 2 or 3 foot cavalettis on the ground we will start doing nice small ones in the saddle.
  7. We will then move on to more complicated jumps like oxers, flower boxes, colorful cross rails and BIG verticals.
  8. Once he can do those we will start doing them in the saddle.
You see that is how i will train him. Just post any pointers or important tips.

maura 11-26-2010 10:42 AM

If the horse is over 4 years old, you don't necessarily have to start over fences by lunging. Lunging over fences is difficult to do well and correctly without a round pen and the correct type of standards. I see it done badly/dangerously way more than I see it done correctly or well. If you do anything other than a single low fence, you need to *really* understand striding and distances, but that's true for undersaddle work as well.

I started a lot of horses over fences from the saddle, no lunging over fences first, with no issues. If their foundaton is sound (meaning they are straight, forward, in front of your leg and obedient) start by trotting over single poles, then a series of trot poles adjusted for their comfortable stride, then at 2X the distance of the trot poles, set a little pyramid of poles (the gap in the distance is to allow an awkward green horse to engage his hind end without stepping on/rolling a pole.) Gradually raise the pyramid of poles to a cross rail.

When your horse can jump a crossrail after the trot poles and land cantering without fuss, build a little one stride gymnastic. When they can handle a little gymnastic without fuss, you can start jumping low single fences from the trot.

If you have not started a young horse over fences before, I would HIGHLY recommend you approach everything in a balanced two point, grabbing a piece of mane. Greenies take some big, unpredictable leaps, and you don't want to discourage them by getting left or getting them in the mouth.

I looked around for a good reference book or website for you and was disappointed at the lack of info. I did find a terrific series of articles on the USEA website that might be helpful:

USEA - Starting Your Green Horse Over Fences - Part II

Of course, all of this goes better and easier with a knowledgable person on the ground, and the best thing would be to work with a trainer with experience starting horses over fences to help you and the horse, but I'm guessing if that was available to you you wouldn't be posting. Do have someone on the ground to help you and watch, it's nearly impossible to do on your own.

Good luck!

Fourpaws 11-27-2010 07:52 AM

Ok thanks for the advice. he is 12 but supposedly has never jumped.

Alcatrazjmpr 11-27-2010 09:51 AM

I agree with maura, lunging over jumps is more difficult for horses, if you have the oppurtunity to free jump him in an arena this way he can get straight to the fence and have a chance to go straight after the fence. My trainer starts all his young ones over fences like this, he will even add flower boxes when they are comfortable. Or we start by trotting poles under saddle, then multiple trot poles in a row, then cantering poles. I was always taught when starting a horse over fences, young or old, to start with a single fence, and again I agree with maura, grab mane the first couple times, they tend to jump rounder and a little stranger than made horses as they figure everything out. Then once they are comfortable with single fences then add related distances and gymnastics, this is what I was always taught, there are many ways to do it and get it done well. If you are inexperienced training a horse to jump, try having a trainer or someone who is experienced helping you. Good luck with everything!

Deerly 11-27-2010 04:29 PM

I'm doing this with my horse now :)

We started doing lots of ground poles, gradually adding more and more.

Our first jumping lesson we added a small crossrail to the end of the poles that he was already used to to see how he'd answer that question. It wasn't super pretty at first and he'd try to go around the jump or trot over it but he figured it out and, once he did, really liked it.

We're focusing on keeping his rhythm up to the jump, keeping him very centered and staying STRAIGHT afterward.

We are starting just with a trotting approach and a single fence w/ and w/out trot poles. Good luck!

I wouldn't think of lunging at first either because you really want to help them be straight and centered which is so hard to do on a lunge. Only after a lot of trot poles under saddle did I "send" him over them on a line and he did really well because he knew what was expected at that point.

Fourpaws 11-27-2010 04:52 PM

ok so if i do the free lunging in the arena without makeing him go in a circle it would be ok?

Alcatrazjmpr 11-27-2010 05:55 PM

Fourpaws, I have seen many people free jump a horse to teach it to jump, watch some videos and read up on the proper way to do it. I have done it with a bounce to a one stride, or a single fence. Make sure the fences are spaced appropriately and when they are learning I have seen some trainers adjust it to the stride of the horse so they are comfortable while learning how to jump.

maura 11-27-2010 06:02 PM

The reason most people free jump is with young horses who are not yet able to bear the weight of the rider over fences.

There really isn't a whole lot of reason to free jump a 12 year old. You're not going to teach him anything he doesn't already know. Most horses know instinctively how to jump a log or obstacle in their path; what needs to be taught is how to do so in balance under the weight of a rider.

I see a *LOT* of bad free jumping, almost as much as bad lunging over fences, where essentially the handlers get the horse upset and chase them over fences. The horse isn't learning anything other than not to like the activity much.

I understand that you're reluctant to start this process from the horse's back, and I think that comes from a good instinct, not wanting to do too much too soon, and to introduce this concept gradually. But honestly, you really are better off with trot poles under saddle and then adding a cross rail, then a simple gymnastic as described above. I really don't think free lunging in this scenario accomplishes what you're hoping for.

Fourpaws 11-28-2010 08:06 PM

ok thanks everyone for the advice i understand all of you points of veiw

brookelovesparelli 11-28-2010 10:10 PM

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My horse turned 12 this year and I got her in December '09 (I've had her a year on the 7th of December). When I got her she didn't know how to jump at all, she didn't even know how to walk over trot poles. She just simply had never been taught. My advice to you is to be patient, let the horse build up its conference and if you take it slowly at first and make it fun for the horse you'll end up progressing a lot faster. I started off with just a pole on the ground and got her to walk over it, but you can't expect your horse to just go straight over it if they don't have the coordination. My mare walked up to it and stopped but you could see she was thinking so incredibly hard as to what she was meant to do, and after what seems like a long time she stretched her front feet over it and sort of kangaroo hopped over it with her back feet. If your horse isn't thinking what to do and is just standing there looking around not paying attention back them away and try again. Once they've gone over it heaps and heaps of praise and even a reward if you want. Once their confident try it when your riding them and then try 2 in a row evenly spaced out and keep working on that. Gradually build it up to a tiny raised pole and started them with that while your on the ground just as you did with the ground pole. Then try when your on them until there confident with that height and happily, willingly doing it and then take it higher. Just remember that praise is the main thing as well as quit at the slightest try, be sure to finish on a good note to keep them wanting more. You'll get there. My horse went from not knowing how to walk over a pole on the ground to jumping 65 - 70cm in a year and she could happily go higher. (here's a couple pictures of her jumping now)
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