Refusals...need some advice - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 09-06-2020, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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Refusals...need some advice

Hi everyone, new guy here (30 years old). Been riding for about 5 years now. Started with dressage then made my way over to jumping for the past few years.

A horse that I currently ride has been my main horse for about 6 months now. He's an 11 year old Dutch warmblood who used to be in the hunters before my trainer got him a few years ago. He's very heavy on the forehand and very lazy and requires consistent collection, which I don't necessarily mind, but it is a lot of effort.

When we first started together he had a lot of issues we had to work through. He was plagued with constant and sometimes aggressive spooks at the most random things and he would refuse all jumps, even a pole 6 inches off the ground. After much work I eventually got him over jumps but then had to deal with him launching over them like they were a meter high (apparently he really only did this with me). I was ready to throw in the towel many times but decided to stick with him.

Fast forward to now and we've had great progress. His spooks are few and far between and very mild when they do happen. I'm now jumping him nearly 3 feet (not that high very often) and he no longer launches over jumps. Something that still comes up, unfortunately, is refusals. While not nearly as frequently as before, they do happen, especially new jumps we haven't tried before. If I double back and attempt the jump again, he'll go over it with no problem and we're fine for the rest of the lesson as if nothing happened.

His refusals come in two flavors:

1. Stop right before the jump followed by: bolts sideways or spin and run away
2. Deflating a few strides before the jump and drifting to one side (this one is more my fault than his and I'm working on eliminating this one)

I'd like to start showing with him but I don't feel comfortable knowing he's going to refuse a jump. I'd also like continue to higher jumps and even though we've tested nearly a meter, most of our time is spent on lower jumps which is frustrating. It's been a long journey with this horse and he's made me a better horseman and I'm happy that I stuck with him, but I'm not sure how to tackle this issue or if it's just something that I have to accept about him.

Here is us going over some low jumps:


One of the things my trainer says I need to work on is being more aggressive. Not necessarily physically, but mentally/emotionally and to attack the jump with more intent and no hesitation.

Any advice, tips, tricks, etc. is appreciated.
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post #2 of 9 Old 09-06-2020, 05:11 PM
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I think before you go to show or jump any higher, you should be working on keeping your hands and lower legs a bit quieter. May or may not have something to do with his refusals, but I just wanted to put that out there. When you say he only does this for you it makes me think that there's somewhere you should be improving as a rider to set him up for success.
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post #3 of 9 Old 09-06-2020, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aprilswissmiss View Post
I think before you go to show or jump any higher, you should be working on keeping your hands and lower legs a bit quieter. May or may not have something to do with his refusals, but I just wanted to put that out there. When you say he only does this for you it makes me think that there's somewhere you should be improving as a rider to set him up for success.
Thank you April, I do indeed have noisy hands and legs regardless of which horse I ride, something I definitely need to work on.

He refuses jumps for everyone (except my trainer), he only launched over jumps with me in the beginning which no longer happens thankfully.

I'm trying to identify what it could be on my end but I've received all sorts of information from many different people so I'm a bit confused.
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post #4 of 9 Old 09-06-2020, 05:30 PM
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There's a Warwick Schiller video (which I would link to here except that it's only on the subscription site) where he deals with a horse's refusals by allowing the refusal, then turning the momentum of it into working on a small circle near the jump, then using the jump as the "way out" of the circle work. Something to consider. You can't really stop a horse from refusing, but by altering your approach, you might be able to make them not want to refuse in the first place.
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post #5 of 9 Old 09-06-2020, 07:01 PM
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Please always keep in mind that while problems people have with horses can well be 'just behavioural', they can also be physical - after all, how else can the horse tell us he's hurting besides 'acting up'? And jumping is hard on a horse's body. Expecting a horse to perform athletically with a rigid structure strapped to their back means saddle fit is a very common issue. And that's aside from considering rider skill, etc. In that vid, albeit only a small snippet, the rider is bouncing a lot, with hands as well as seat, and the horse is obviously uncomfortable with this. He's doing what he's told, but looks uncomfortable for him just going round, so sure to be even more discomfort going over the jump, and he indicates this by the tail swish. Perhaps there are other reasons for discomfort if he does it for everyone, or it's just about the rider in question, if he only does it with you.
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post #6 of 9 Old 09-06-2020, 07:18 PM
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I don't see much pace, little impulsion pushing him forward.
Noisy and distracting hands and to much of a swinging lower leg, a active leg that is not on the horse sending him off the ground...make your life difficult.

I see it being more you jumped ahead of the animal and if he goes great, if he doesn't you're lucky if it is just a nasty run-out not a bad dump to you.
I can also tell you because it is a habit so many have and you tipped your helmet brim down you looked down...that put a stop to the impulsion, fleeting a downward glance the horse feels your eyes and then slams on the brakes...
Look between the ears, ride a active seat driving his impulsion forward, then a stride out 2-point to fence base and allow that horse to rise to you not you throw your body ahead and somewhat down of his impulsion or as you go higher consistently you will have more powerful stops and run-outs.
He is a big horse and needs some more impulsion, but that does not mean he needs to fly in speed either, he needs to push from behind not drag himself from his heavy forehand.


Riding gymnastics, grids, bounces and riding in a 2-point at a walk and trot to build the quiet muscle control of lower leg might help you..

...
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post #7 of 9 Old 09-06-2020, 07:28 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loosie View Post
Please always keep in mind that while problems people have with horses can well be 'just behavioural', they can also be physical - after all, how else can the horse tell us he's hurting besides 'acting up'? And jumping is hard on a horse's body. Expecting a horse to perform athletically with a rigid structure strapped to their back means saddle fit is a very common issue. And that's aside from considering rider skill, etc. In that vid, albeit only a small snippet, the rider is bouncing a lot, with hands as well as seat, and the horse is obviously uncomfortable with this. He's doing what he's told, but looks uncomfortable for him just going round, so sure to be even more discomfort going over the jump, and he indicates this by the tail swish. Perhaps there are other reasons for discomfort if he does it for everyone, or it's just about the rider in question, if he only does it with you.
Interesting that you bring up the tail swish relating to discomfort, no one has mentioned that yet.

He refuses jumps for everyone who rides him. I'm the only one who can get him over jumps in general. I am trying to assess how much of the refusals are because of me vs. an issue on his end. I suspect it's perhaps a combination of both as I've rarely dealt with refusals on other horses. It could also be him bringing out my weaknesses more than other horses which in turn isn't doing him a favor.
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post #8 of 9 Old 09-06-2020, 07:35 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by horselovinguy View Post
I don't see much pace, little impulsion pushing him forward.
Noisy and distracting hands and to much of a swinging lower leg, a active leg that is not on the horse sending him off the ground...make your life difficult.

I see it being more you jumped ahead of the animal and if he goes great, if he doesn't you're lucky if it is just a nasty run-out not a bad dump to you.
I can also tell you because it is a habit so many have and you tipped your helmet brim down you looked down...that put a stop to the impulsion, fleeting a downward glance the horse feels your eyes and then slams on the brakes...
Look between the ears, ride a active seat driving his impulsion forward, then a stride out 2-point to fence base and allow that horse to rise to you not you throw your body ahead and somewhat down of his impulsion or as you go higher consistently you will have more powerful stops and run-outs.
He is a big horse and needs some more impulsion, but that does not mean he needs to fly in speed either, he needs to push from behind not drag himself from his heavy forehand.


Riding gymnastics, grids, bounces and riding in a 2-point at a walk and trot to build the quiet muscle control of lower leg might help you..

...
I'm putting in a substantial amount of physical effort just to get him to move in that video. He's the very opposite of forward. Maybe that's why my body is so loud, I'm too concerned with getting him to move?
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post #9 of 9 Old 09-06-2020, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by w.a.s View Post
I'm putting in a substantial amount of physical effort just to get him to move in that video. He's the very opposite of forward. Maybe that's why my body is so loud, I'm too concerned with getting him to move?
Then IMO regardless of everything else, you should be getting that ironed out before adding jumping into the 'mix'.
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