View Full Version : How to help a horse jump rounder?

Apr. 19, 2009, 06:46 PM
Is there anyway to help teach a hunter to jump rounder?

I have a paint that is showing the childrens, and snaps his knee's but he jumps flat. I have jumped him over bigger fences 3'6" to 3'9" and he is as round as any warmblood. But is there anything I can do to help him stay round while he is showing the childrens that will in the end put us higher up in the ribbons? Some background/current information on him, he is 16hh has a long reaching stride, is trained 1st level dressage, has shown level 1's but he much prefers to be a hunter. I've taken him cross country to get a bold forward horse that rarely lances at fences and he loves to foxhunting. He has his flying changes and is currently schooling haunches in, shoulder ins, and higher degrees of collection along with a few occasional three tempi's, but lacks the big movement for dressage so he schools at home and this has helped us come alot further as a hunter team. I am hoping to take him further in the hunter ring at A shows, and this year he will be going to Paint World (The Devon/Indoors of the breed) to show in the hunters and Eq.

My trainer would like for us to get more miles in the childrens with us always placing in the ribbons before she moves us up to the juniors. My goal with him is to maybe if he continues like he is going show him in USHJA Derby.
So does anyone know any exercises that I can do to get him going rounder instead of cantering over 3' and 3'3"?

Apr. 19, 2009, 09:34 PM
I am a big believer in the use of gymnastics. Try a couple of short bounces then a one stride with an oxer at the end. It should encourage him to use his back more which will make him rounder.

Apr. 20, 2009, 02:53 AM
Gymnastics with the striding set a touch tight, as well as 'V' poles! You'll feel a huge difference.

Apr. 20, 2009, 10:04 AM
Also, at the shows, try warming up over a lot of smaller oxers rather than verticals.
Placement poles can help a lot, too. On the backside, about 10-11 feet out, to get them to "look down" and use their head and neck better.
Again, gymnastic exercises that you can actually use in a busy schooling ring!

Apr. 20, 2009, 11:32 AM
Low wide oxers (much wider than they are high)

Apr. 20, 2009, 12:42 PM
Low wide oxers (much wider than they are high)

First, I'm not challenging you. I just don't understand. It seems to me a low wide oxer would force a horse to jump more on the flat side to cover the distance. My same logic would mean a high vertical would encourage a horse to jump rounder ?sp? I'm not a trainer or a rider just a pony dad trying to learn more about his daughters passion. Thanks

Apr. 20, 2009, 12:52 PM
First, I'm not challenging you. I just don't understand. It seems to me a low wide oxer would force a horse to jump more on the flat side to cover the distance. My same logic would mean a high vertical would encourage a horse to jump rounder ?sp? I'm not a trainer or a rider just a pony dad trying to learn more about his daughters passion. Thanks

That is actually the sweetest thing ever. I wish my parents were like you, gasrgoose!!
I believe that low, wide oxers help a horse to round up over a jump because it requires that they (ideally) reach out more with their shoulder, use their necks and follow through with their hind end. Of course not all horses are so easily helped in their jumping technique, but it is a very good place to start! Anyone feel free to correct me if I am wrong as I also am no trainer and have become a very part time rider. Most of my learning is from observance from the ground.

Apr. 20, 2009, 12:56 PM
I completely agree with the gymnastics suggestions and wanted to add that hogs-backs will encourage a rounder jump due to their shape. Also, you might want to play with some distances. Many times shorter take-off spots will cause the horse to rock back more to create a rounder jump (not burried into the base of the fence of course, but closer than normal; similar to what is created with the shorter distance gymnastics).

Go Fish
Apr. 20, 2009, 02:47 PM
Do you have some conformation shots of your horse? While gymnastics will certainly help, some horses are just not built well or scopy enough to round over fences. Having had APHAs in a past life, their general conformation is usually not condusive to round jumps. Is your horse a WB paint or an APHA-bred paint?

Apr. 20, 2009, 03:35 PM
First, I'm not challenging you. I just don't understand. It seems to me a low wide oxer would force a horse to jump more on the flat side to cover the distance. My same logic would mean a high vertical would encourage a horse to jump rounder ?sp? I'm not a trainer or a rider just a pony dad trying to learn more about his daughters passion. Thanks
Read either Jimmy Wofford's "Gymnastics" or Linda Allen's "101 Gymnastic Exercises" for an explanation.

Apr. 20, 2009, 04:10 PM
Another exercise is DMK's "patented pile-o-poles"

Apr. 20, 2009, 04:32 PM
At shows, I find my mare needs a high, airy vertical before she goes in, groundrails rolled in close and I have to have her on a forward stride, getting a bit tight to the jump, and then she will jump round.

While schooling at home, there's a variety of exercises I like to work on that I feel make her jump rounder:

~low, wide oxers-but only when I ride her forward to a close distance will she round up. If I'm long and/or weak, she just jumps flat across the oxer

~gymnastics set on the shorter stride, usually starts with a trot pole in and being set a bit tight helps make her take her time and use her topline as she jumps out

~riding forward to combo lines like a one stride to a one stride of all oxers-or bounce, bounce, 3 strides to an oxer that could be ridden both ways

~my personal fave-rollbacks. For one rollback setup, we'll set a single vertical as a "start" jump, rollback to oxer, back to start vertical, rollback opposite way to another oxer, almost like a figure-8 over 3 jumps, all 3 jumps are set straight, so 2 outside oxers and 1 centerline vertical.

I find with my mare, she gets bored doing same old 3' hunter courses, and mixing it up, while challenging her, works the best for us.

Apr. 20, 2009, 05:16 PM
Another exercise is DMK's "patented pile-o-poles"

I especially like it with a super steep X (set the X rails at the 5'0 mark and pull in the standards so you have about a 3' "window" to jump through.

That said, if the horse isn't just learning how to jump and what you are dealing with is a more experienced horse who just jumps flat... well there is a reason why a good hunter costs a lot of money, and that's partly because a really good jump is something they are born with not something you make. Ideally we try to a) not screw them up and b) gently tune on like adjusting the performance of any high powered machine. ;)

Apr. 20, 2009, 06:14 PM
Ditto on the gymnastics and the low wide oxers. I love gymnastics to help the horses use their necks and backs more.

Here is a good video:

Apr. 20, 2009, 07:58 PM
Placing poles in front and behind the jump work for my guy... About 9' I think, I never actually set the jumps so I'm not 100% sure!

Apr. 20, 2009, 10:08 PM
DMK, is that steep X your Patented Pile o' Poles?

I want a piece of that contraption. Did I get it?


Apr. 20, 2009, 10:27 PM
While you can use a hogsback at home, I believe it is illegal at a show! Don't get in trouble! Ask a steward.

Apr. 20, 2009, 10:33 PM
Great to see a pony dad all getting all up on the details!

My advice, gathered from other posters:

Know that there's only so much you can do to modify your pony's natural style. Don't jump the pants off it.

Know that getting the roundest jump this pony can produce might depend on a really careful warm-up and very accurate ride. Don't stress out the kid, this is what pros do!

You can, however, encourage your kid to ride well enough on the flat to make her pony very adjustable. That will help her lengthen and shorten strides on course to get to the optimal distance for her pony and the size/shape jump.

I also like the idea (for all non-pro riders and for all horses) of doing lots with ground poles to get the job done. This makes it easy to get what you want with few fences, and puts no pressure on the rider for accuracy.

Finally, or maybe first, any of the books other posters recommended will give you a solid understanding of how gymnastics and other exercises can help.

From there, you will be able to set poles like pro at the shows. Best of luck to your team!

Apr. 20, 2009, 11:15 PM
good for you, pony dad! :)

anywho, i suggest gymnastics. as far as low wide oxers, they are hit or miss--yes, sometimes it could encourage a horse to just jump flat and cover the distance, but when ridden properly, they will round up. i mean, they don't have to be huge spreads. start with something small. 2' oxer with a 2'6'' spread. start to get wider (while going up only slightly in height). also, try doing very steep crossrails. like where the poles are resting on the highest hole of the jump standard, making a very narrow window for the horse to jump through (may end up around 3' depending on how close your standards are together/how long the poles are, etc.). also try some bounces. another thing is to avoid getting long distances in general. i mean, we all want to avoid getting a long distance, but sometimes they're the best option. if it's the only good option, it should be taken, but in general, start trying to get the horse to come closer up to the base of the jump. NOT burrying the horse in front of the jump, but getting to the base. they will have to jump much rounder, but you should always make sure you have plenty of impulsion when getting a deeper distance, or you will chip in.

Apr. 20, 2009, 11:36 PM
Another gymnastic suggestion: x-oxer-x. A crossrail, followed by a swedish oxer, followed by a second crossrail identical to the first. Put 18 feet between each fence and the next, and raise the oxer after a few repetitions to make the exercise more difficult.

The exercise can be ridden in both directions since it's symmetrical, and the short distances with the swedish oxer in the middle will encourage your horse to collect his stride, rock back on his hocks, and round up over the oxer. Something to do at home rather than in warmup at a show, however.

Apr. 21, 2009, 09:56 AM
mvp - the PO'P is a variation on a landing pole - instead of using a landing pole, you use two parallel to each other and one on top - like a tripod. Then you pull it in as far as you dare, like possibly 6'0, although I'm generally only as brave as 7'. I pair it with the super steep X just to really focus the horse on the narrowest part of the jump and to keep the front and back tidy.

Technically it's not my idea, Danny Robertshaw gets all the credit, so all royalties should clearly go to Dan & Ron's rescue efforts. ;)

Stono Ferry
Apr. 21, 2009, 05:11 PM
DMK do you mean like a pyramid of poles?

Apr. 21, 2009, 08:00 PM