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ytr45
Jun. 2, 2011, 06:23 PM
This is a question for people who know about jumper instructors and the jumper world. I ride in a different discipline, so this was bizarre to me.

We have a green 6 year old horse that my friend has been working with. They have started jumping and she has got him jumping nicely at around 18" . We're thrilled - he is very green. She is an experienced and lovely rider, but hasn't done tons of jumping. We met a jumping teacher whom we liked so we scheduled a lesson and trailered over.

When we got there we found out that we would be working with a different instructor, a big time jumper olympian/rider/trainer from Columbia who does jumper clinics. Sounded good to us.

He had a little grid set up with raised cavaleties and a 2'6" oxer at the end. He said he just wanted to see what the horse would do. The horse is basically a lazy kickalong, neither brave nor athletic. The horse refused to even go over the raised cavaletti.

He lowered the caveletties + jump and had her ride the horse more forward with some whip taps until he went over everything. Then he kept having her ride thru the grid, raising the jump at the end each time she went through. Eventually the oxer got raised to 3' !! The horse went thru fine by the end, although there were some very ugly moments in the middle.

But I was in shock, how can you take a green horse and go from 18" to 3' ?? But wait, there's more....

Then he had her jump a line of 3 jumps, including a wall and a 2'9" oxer. I thought he wouldn't & couldn't jump those jumps, but the instructor kept reassuring me that the horse was capable and needed to learn. The horse had never seen a solid wall (maybe 2'3" x 1' wide ?) and kept refusing, never making it to the big 2'9" oxer.

Then the instructor got on him in order to school him over the line becuz my friend was too timid to be super aggressive. (the horse does get away with being lazy, so I know you have to make your point about FORWARD sometimes). The guy smacked him a bunch to get him really forward and then got the horse over the first fence in the line, but went over his neck when the horse stopped at the wall. (oh yeah the instructor didn't want to wear a helmet, maybe this is just a cultural difference ? I was pretty freaked out about him riding the horse w/o a helmet, but maybe Columbians ride differently? )

He kept smacking him forward till he went over the whole line. I could hardly believe my eyes. Then he had my friend get back on the horse and do it. The horse then jumped the whole line very nicely.

So, I was kind of in shock. Is this the Columbian style of teaching? Is this guy phenomenal? or reckless? I don't know enough about jumpers to know. I've never seen a jumping lesson like this. I don't think he was abusive to the horse, but definitely didn't pamper the guy. The horse did jump fine at the end, and the guy even was doing flying lead changes on him?!?!?! I thought flying-lead changes were a big deal to teach, but by the end he would just give the horse a smack and voila! the horse would change his lead?.?.?

Is this normal ?

findeight
Jun. 2, 2011, 06:38 PM
Is this normal ?


Columbia Missouri or Columbia SA?

Sounds like a productive clinic session to me but, then again, I don't think 18" is "jumping" or that horses have to be babied through learning lead changes since they are born knowing them.

I think this person pushed your friend and that horse to get better and...horrors, they got better. What a shame

MR
Jun. 2, 2011, 06:43 PM
IMHO - run away and never go back. Sure it's the way I'd run a lesson for a green bean that was coming to my barn for the first time.

Sounds like there were some good parts in the end, but he got pretty severe to get there. Sure, a smack occassionally might be necessary - but not over and over. You don't want your horse being "scared" into jumping. There's a reason we say "baby steps."

Honestly, I'd never let a rider get on my horse without a helmet - ever. Sure, there are plenty of trainers out there that ride sans brain-bucket, but I am not going to be liable for their choice on my horse. Sure glad he didn't get hurt (and didn't hurt your horse!) when he got tossed over the wall. You make that call. If the trainer won't put a helmet on, it's not worth paying them if you are uncomfortable with it.

Obviously, I don't know your hose at all, but seems like that was way too much for the first time for your horse. Sure, "testing" the horse a little is natural - to see scope/potential - but not if the horse is showing signs of worry (stopping, backing off, etc). Grids can be great - but usually you'd build it - start with the cavaelli and no jump at the end, build it up, and the raise it.

Next time, stop the lesson BEFORE it gets that far. You are the owner, it's your money, and you make the call. Sadly, you may have to work hard to reverse some of that & rebuilt the horse's confidence. Hopefully, it's a horse with a good mind, who will get home and be OK. Go way back to the beginning right away - poles and build up to 18" on the first ride, then build slowly from there.

I'd suggest next time you go see the trainer ride before you take your horse - even ask to see them at a time they are working with a green horse.

Oh, and I've been POd if I showed up to lesson with one trainer, and got someone else instead (only exception being if I knew both trainers equally and would have happily worked with either when I signed up for the lesson).

Sorry you had such a crappy experience. :(

hntrjmprpro45
Jun. 2, 2011, 06:45 PM
Jumping 3' on a green 6 year old is very reasonable. Personally I dislike starting a horse over teeny tiny speed bumps. A real, solid jump will teach the horse to actually use itself rather than develop sloppy style over itty bitty jumps. And for lead changes- most horses will start getting them if they are forward and balanced and usually isn't a huge deal.

I can't comment on the aggressive riding since I wasn't there to see it but the size of the jumps and lead changes are completely within reason.

ytr45
Jun. 2, 2011, 06:48 PM
Thanks. Just to clarify, I didn't say it was a crappy experience. I said it was bizarre. Coming from a different discipline and not knowing anything of the cultural differences either, I didn't know if it was phenomenal or reckless.

Also to clarify - I didn't mean to indicate the guy was riding overly aggressive, maybe "necessarily assertive and fearless" are better descriptions.

MR
Jun. 2, 2011, 06:55 PM
Thanks. Just to clarify, I didn't say it was a crappy experience. I said it was bizarre. Coming from a different discipline and not knowing anything of the cultural differences either, I didn't know if it was phenomenal or reckless.

Also to clarify - I didn't mean to indicate the guy was riding overly aggressive, maybe "necessarily assertive and fearless" are better descriptions.

Oh, got it. The way I read it, it sounded like he was sticking the horse constantly and you sounded really uncomfortable with the situation. Gut reaction is important. Sound schooling shouldn't make you feel like "something might be wrong here..."

Still, not the way I'd work with the horse the first time, but that's just me. :) If the horse is refusing, I'd want to address that before I was raising the jumps.

I definitely agree with other folks that going bigger isn't the issue - if the horse is calm and well-balanced, then raising the height a bit can help built impression and get them using themselves much better than falling over a tiny xrail. :)

Cita
Jun. 2, 2011, 07:27 PM
If the horse is refusing, I'd want to address that before I was raising the jumps.

I definitely agree with other folks that going bigger isn't the issue - if the horse is calm and well-balanced, then raising the height a bit can help built impression and get them using themselves much better than falling over a tiny xrail. :)Yes. You want to set up horses (especially green ones) for success, not put them in a place where they are "practicing" refusals. Horses can develop confidence issues just like people - if a green horse is refusing repeatedly, it is probably being overfaced.

findeight
Jun. 2, 2011, 07:47 PM
Also to clarify - I didn't mean to indicate the guy was riding overly aggressive, maybe "necessarily assertive and fearless" are better descriptions.

Like in "experienced professional"?

I was not there but, to me, a 6 year old can do all these things and should do all these things under a good rider. I did not read it was dead green and had never cantered crossrail. 3' is not the moon and is, in fact, a starting place for many trainers with a 6 year old well, broke on the flat.

I cannot comment on anything else as all this is filtered through OPs admittedly inexperienced eyes. I am experienced but I was not there.

Does not sound like anything bad happened. Sounds like it WAS set up for success because this horse and rider had some setbacks they overcame and were, ultimately, successful and did more then they ever had before. Sounds like a session with a profssional who gets riders to enlarge their envelope and advance their horses.

naturalequus
Jun. 2, 2011, 07:57 PM
Agree here too that the height and course and also lead changes sound within the realm of 'normal' to me also. 3' is 'not much', especially with a horse who is introduced to jumping and is doing well at 18'', and the flying changes can certainly be done within a session if the horse is properly prepared otherwise.

My only worry would be with how it was all introduced, which we can't truly know without having been there :) There is a difference between aggressiveness and assertiveness, and setting the horse up for success but challenging it and possibly over-facing or over-challenging it. I've never been an advocate for punishing a horse for a refusal - as Greg Best says, it's healthy for a horse to stop and refuse. You take it for what it is, likely change something (either for the horse or in your ride and approach), and try again. BUT, I wasn't there so don't feel comfortable commenting beyond that :)

doublesstable
Jun. 2, 2011, 08:03 PM
Well if you had video I would be able to better say if it's normal... but I don't think 3' is high for a 6 year old.... and something I noticed when around jumper riders (expecially when they jump over 1.30 meters) 3' is nothing to them. And probably think a horse that is 6 should be well on his way.

It sounds like you need to go someplace else because you don't sound comfortable working at that pace. Regardless if it was normal or not, you have to find a program "you" are comfortable in and it doesn't sound like you were.....

Big_Grey_hunter
Jun. 2, 2011, 08:04 PM
Like in "experienced professional"?

I was not there but, to me, a 6 year old can do all these things and should do all these things under a good rider. I did not read it was dead green and had never cantered crossrail. 3' is not the moon and is, in fact, a starting place for many trainers with a 6 year old well, broke on the flat.



Uh, maybe not for a sporthorse or bred for hunters horse. but your for your average green, "lazy kickalong, neither brave nor athletic" horse, 3' IS a big deal. Overfacing a not brave horse is NOT 'pushing the envelope' it is setting the horse up for failure. The stops don't sound nasty, they sound more like the horses way of saying it is uncomfortable and nervous. A good trainer wouldn't force the horse, they would work to build the horse's confidence *before* rasing the jumps.

I would not move a not particulary athletic horse straight to 3' anymore than I'd jump an athletic horse over 4' right away. Just because physically they CAN do it, doesn't mean they have the confidence to get anything from the session but 'jumping is scary, jumping gets me smacked, I don't like jumping" OP, I would suggst finding a trainer who will help build your horses confidence instead of pushing it to the point it stops.

findeight
Jun. 2, 2011, 08:23 PM
...We met a jumping teacher whom we liked so we scheduled a lesson and trailered over.

When we got there we found out that we would be working with a different instructor, a big time jumper olympian/rider/trainer from Columbia who does jumper clinics. Sounded good to us.


OK, hate to say it but the old read for content banner is over this one. It is NOT their regular trainer. It is NOT the trainer they thought they would work with. It IS a clincian with International experience and training (unless it is Columbia Missouri that claims him).

Got them over 3' with lead changes, no bleeding, no welts and they never have to work with him again.

So he problem here is they want to stay at 18" and simple change for another 2 years? Or ?????

Calvincrowe
Jun. 2, 2011, 08:31 PM
What did you think would happen when your friend agreed to lesson/clinic with an international level jumper rider? Did your friend discuss goals, experience, etc. with BNT?

I guess I don't find it bizarre at all. A really good rider/trainer can take a horse very far, very fast with no baggage. That's why they are that good.

I'd be interested in the next lesson report, to see if the horse is still happy going to a jump...should be, unless your friend is not able to replicate the more forward ride. Sounds like your friend is not at the level of the BNT's usual clinic/lesson participants.

trabern
Jun. 2, 2011, 08:46 PM
It is unclear to me whether you trailered over for a training session for the horse (what you seemed to have gotten) or a "lesson", which I think of as a training session for the rider on how to ride/train the horse for the next x amount of time to get y goals (which seems to me to have been lacking). The latter would have involved more discussion of where you were and where you wanted to go, how you ride and how horse responds, etc. Also with the latter it seems odd for me you got a surprise clinician instead of your appointed instructor.

You seemed to get someone whose goal was to show you what he thought your horse could do & how he would do it. If that's what you were paying for, then it sounds within the scope.

I wouldn't say that you should expect this same thing normally every time you trailer for a lesson, however. It seems a bit abrupt and cookie-cutter for a standard first session, to me.

BTW, The idea that he didn't wear a helmet would make me not go back, no matter who he's training--not enough brains there to protect, it is not enough brains for me to pay for a session.

keepthelegend
Jun. 2, 2011, 08:59 PM
I think it all sounds fine. The horse was refusing to step over a cavaletti in the beginning so I think the "smacking" him over the fences is probably what he needed as he doesn't sound scared, just naughty and lazy. The fact he did jump the line nicely once he realized he had to go shows he isn't overfaced....an overfaced nervous horse would have gotten quick and been overjumping, etc. Sounds like he just stopped at the fences like he stopped at the cavaletti and then learned a lesson that he needs to go over what's in front of him.

CBoylen
Jun. 2, 2011, 09:01 PM
Most professionals I've worked with do not wear helmets at home, so that's not a cultural difference.You aren't going to find too many who will put on a hat for your benefit if they don't normally wear one.
Otherwise, hard to say without seeing what happened, progressing heights in a grid is standard procedure, it doesn't mean that the horse now jumps 3' outside of a grid, that's just how you introduce height. And then, any horse is capable of getting over a 2'3" wall, from day one of jumping, and if your friend couldn't get the horse to do that then it was very important for the professional to get on and make sure it got done. He fixed the issue for your friend, and hopefully she will now be able to progress.
But if you think the horse isn't athletic and can't jump 2'9", why on earth spend any time or money on it?

Rel6
Jun. 2, 2011, 09:03 PM
Uh, maybe not for a sporthorse or bred for hunters horse. but your for your average green, "lazy kickalong, neither brave nor athletic" horse, 3' IS a big deal. Overfacing a not brave horse is NOT 'pushing the envelope' it is setting the horse up for failure. The stops don't sound nasty, they sound more like the horses way of saying it is uncomfortable and nervous. I would not move a not particulary athletic horse straight to 3' anymore than I'd jump an athletic horse over 4' right away.

This. I totally agree.

Cacique
Jun. 2, 2011, 09:10 PM
I'm going to say that this was probably actually not completely out of line. I agree with the poster above who dislikes starting horses over "speed bumps." I definitely believe in intensely solid basics, flat work, etc. However, I think that once a horse is ready, and I mean really ready, to jump then they should be JUMPING. A horse only has so many jumps in them, and you might as well make them worthwhile. Actually, 18" fences can be detrimental to style after a while. I doubt Sapphire has ever seen a 18" "jump" (okay, she's worked over cavalettis...becasue 18" is still a cavaletti and should be treated as such).
If the horse wasn't ready to jump, don't take them for a jumping lesson. I think these were things that stuck out to you because you are unfamiliar with the way in which jumpers, real jumpers, are trained. I could be totally off base, and this could, in fact, be a situation that you should have responded to negatively. If this was truly horrible, don't take my post to say that all jumpers are like this. I would just say that you shouldn't go into this thinking "omg, I need to fix this now." In fact, it was probably good for the horse, provided that your friend can continue the upward trend. I would suggest more frequent jumping lessons going forwards if this is truly the area that you are heading with this horse.

findeight
Jun. 2, 2011, 09:10 PM
BTW, The idea that he didn't wear a helmet would make me not go back, no matter who he's training--not enough brains there to protect, it is not enough brains for me to pay for a session.

Ummm...assuming it is Colombia SA and not Columbia Missouri? This person grew up without such a requirement and his country does not have such a requirement. Only when competing FEI.

So if he helped the horse to it's best ever and the friend/rider to her best ever? Lack of a helmet not required by his country or his culture or his current employer disqualifies him from further instruction or teaching you anything???

We are NOT the center of the equine universe and, as horsemen, need to learn whatever we can from whoever offers it wherever it is offered without passing judgement.

Just have them sign a waiver;). But if they can help me and my horse? I could care less if they ride upside down in pajamas and a bunny hat-I need them to help me.

Sound like this friend is waaaay ahead of where she was coming in to this session.

I thought that was the point of the whole thing. Getting better with no harm. But I am old school so...whatever.

wcporter
Jun. 2, 2011, 09:17 PM
How has the horse been going since this schooling session?

klmck63
Jun. 2, 2011, 09:24 PM
It sounds to me like the horse was not pushed too far, per say, (3' is well within what an average 6 year old should be able to do) but the horse was pushed out of it's comfort zone too fast. Particularly in your first lesson with an unfamiliar trainer goals and timelines should be discussed so the trainer doesn't ride your the horse you want to be a 2'3" hunter like it's headed to the 4' jumpers.

Grids should, in my experience, be built up element by element as the horse gets more comfortable. You would start with a pole as the first "jump", then make that a small jump and the next element a pole, moving down until the whole grid is set up. Then if things are going well you start to incrementally raise the height.

If the horse had never jumped above 18" before, it's not unreasonable to expect it to be jumping 2'9"-3" in a grid by the end of a good training session or lesson, but things need to be built up incrementally and if the horse gets scared and stops a couple times you need to go back a step or change something until the horse gets it's confidence back and then keep working up.

In short, it's hard to say definitively without being there, but I would not be happy with how it seems this person rode your horse. I would be really unimpressed if I had scheduled a lesson with a specific trainer and then am passed off to someone else without any notice beforehand and unless two trainers are partners in a business, this is not really usual. Lots of professional and "big name" jumper riders prefer to ride without helmets so that isn't unusual, but if you aren't comfortable with that you don't have to let them on your horse. I personally would not let someone on mine without a helmet. I wouldn't want to be, even indirectly, responsible for any sort of preventable accident!

keepthelegend
Jun. 2, 2011, 09:24 PM
To me it sounds like your friend is the one overfaced. Doesn't sound like she wants to actually jump over 18" as you said she was too timid to ride aggressively to the bigger jumps. Maybe she picked out an unathletic and not brave horse on purpose so she could just pop around her cross rails and both of them be happy? If so then she should not take lessons with jumper riders. He did the right thing for a rider wanting to get better and progress but maybe she doesn't? Was she happy she jumped 3 feet out of the line? If she insists the horse was overfaced maybe it's to cover for herself feeling overfaced. What did she think of the whole thing?

Big_Grey_hunter
Jun. 2, 2011, 09:33 PM
But if you think the horse isn't athletic and can't jump 2'9", why on earth spend any time or money on it?

Wow. Just wow. :no:

Treasmare2
Jun. 2, 2011, 09:39 PM
I would say this was a training session that was successful. Your horse has learned he can jump 3 ft and that jumps are for jumping regardless if they are rails or someting more solid like a wall. The grid would have shown him how to use his body more effectively and shown the horse the 3ft height. Given he is 6 years old he is strong enough for this and the sooner he see a real jump the better for him and the rider. I also agree with whoever said low fences/speed bumps are sometimes guilty of creating bad jumping form.

I hope your friend is feeling Ok with this experience and is feeling onfident enough to continue with progressing this horse. If she is feeling rattled by this or is doubtful that this is an OK progression you may want to take the horse to the trainer for some more schools so the horse is confident before your friend continues the schooling. Doubting an approach can produce confidence problems in the horse because they will pick up on rider emotions. Good luck with the jumping.

CBoylen
Jun. 2, 2011, 09:42 PM
BGH, I don't feel I deserve the head shaking icon for asking why someone took a horse they describe as timid and unathletic, and that they felt couldn't or wouldn't jump a 2'3" and 2'9" fence, to a jumper trainer for a jumping lesson. If you don't think the horse is capable of jumping, that is a waste of time and money.

wanderlust
Jun. 2, 2011, 09:44 PM
Some of you guys seriously kill me. 3' is NOT BIG. The horse sounds lazy, behind the leg, and disobedient. IMO, he got exactly the ride he needed.

For a comparison, we started out my youngster *walking* and then trotting solid walls no smaller than 2'3 or 2'6.

Timex
Jun. 2, 2011, 09:45 PM
So, you got a timid, unathletic horse for a timid rider to ride? And the goal is what, exactly? I'm not trying to be overly critical, but I'm a little confused. What's the point of jumping him in the first place? If he's timid, and the rider is timid, THAT is setting him up for failure, not having a pro put a (relatively? I wasn't there, so......) Successful ride on him. If the point that she needs to be more assertive hit home with her, that will not only benefit both horse and rider, but also possibly keep her safe. Harder to fall off when the horse is going forward and your butt is in the saddle than it is when one sucks back, is timid to the fences and stops. I promise. ;)

doublesstable
Jun. 2, 2011, 09:46 PM
BGH, I don't feel I deserve the head shaking icon for asking why someone took a horse they describe as timid and unathletic, and that they felt couldn't or wouldn't jump a 2'3" and 2'9" fence, to a jumper trainer for a jumping lesson. If you don't think the horse is capable of jumping, that is a waste of time and money.

It sounds like to me that the OP and the rider did not really know what to expect. It also appears the rider is not much of a jumper and I'm sure that was a bit of a shock to someone that doesn't jump much.... I jump and it would be a shock to me. (but I'm old and like keeping things on the low down)

It also sounds like the horse may have had some potential if the trainer started to push it a bit... ??? maybe...

But I understood what CBoylen meant....

Timex
Jun. 2, 2011, 09:58 PM
Hey OP, you said neither of you are jumper riders, so what do you ride? What is *your* norm?

Ponytoes
Jun. 2, 2011, 10:04 PM
When I was at WEG this fall and watched the jumpers schooling 90% didn't have on helmets. Our trainers don't where them but I do insist on dd wearing them and always will :yes:

CHT
Jun. 3, 2011, 12:00 AM
When i was younger and braver I was sometimes the test dummy when trying out horses. It was not unheard of for us to put a horse over a 3'6" oxer its first time jumping just to see if it had potential. We set it up for success with a line set for their natural stride. Wheels did not come off and brains did not explode.

I also agree that a horse should jump some sort of fill early on in its education so that it doesn't become a big deal in the horse (or rider's mind).

I am wondering if this astute coach saw a horse and rider that had more potential than they realized, and just wanted to show them both they could do it. Sometimes it is easiest to be pushed out of your comfort zone by a stranger...and then the stuff you used to be afraid of seems easy!

greenwoodeq
Jun. 3, 2011, 12:16 AM
Sounds like a clinic from where i stand. Not sure how aggressive it was, but a six year old and 3' sounds more than right to me. I like baby steps as much as the next person, but it really depends on the horse. A baby step doesn't necessarily mean a tiny jump. If my jumper had started with small fences he'd have terrible form and knock rails (but that is just him) if one of my OTTBs hadn't started with "glorified poles" as jumps then they'd probably still be s%*!ting themselves out of fear. To each their own and a professional/ experienced rider should be able to gauge the horse well enough to know where to start.

Stoney447
Jun. 3, 2011, 12:18 AM
I wouldn't say that this is outside of the norm for serious jumper riders starting a new horse over fences.

Perhaps the trainer was not on the same page and did not understand the true goals and intentions of the rider for coming to the lesson. I think this happens more than we realize. My trainer makes sure to be on the same page with me with my goals for all of my horses by asking me for progress reports at the beginning of each lesson. To that point, she asked me what each horse had done in the past and what I wanted them to do in the future (as well as how far off the future was in my opinion) the first lesson she saw them. This is important and both parties should have made an effort to be clear about expectations of the lesson.

With that aside, I think that this trainer did what needed to be done in order to understand the jumping potential of the horse.

I personally (and I have to admit I couldn't stop myself from typing this I am so proud of my guy) just started jumping my 6 year old OTTB rescue that I got back in March. After about 2.5 months of flat work 6 days a week I thought he was strong enough to carry himself and introduce jumping. On our first U/S jumping day (he had been through the chute, albeit he does not like free jumping much and wont make much effort, and had walked and trotted crossrails a couple days before in the middle of a flat lesson as we worked around the ring) our trainer built a gymnastic gradually adding elements as he went through. The gymnastic ended with a 3'6" oxer (measured) and a happy horse/rider who walked away from the lesson knowing that he had the willingness, natural form, athleticism, and overall ability to do his future job.

Neither myself or my trainer could have known his ability (or on the other side of the coin lack of ability) which would dictate what we needed to work on next to continue to develop him if we had only jumped 18 inches.

SmileItLooksGoodOnYou
Jun. 3, 2011, 12:39 AM
I also agree that 3' and flying changes on a green 6yo is nothing to worry about at all, especially with the horse going in already cantering 18" without any issues. I have a horse slightly younger than 6, that courses 3'-3'6 with changes, so this doesn't concern me AT ALL.

The OP said something about her friend being an experience rider who hasn't done a lot of jumping. The OP also mentioned that as the grid got raised and raised there were ugly moments in the middle. This says to me that the rider may not have been terribly effective in riding the horse over the jumps, starting to teach it something wrong. At which point the trainer gets on, corrects the mistake, then goes forward.

I would take another lesson or two before making a decision.

SSacky
Jun. 3, 2011, 01:56 AM
I get a lot of heck from my trainer from riding to passively and 'babying' the horses I ride. Admittedly, they are his horses so he is well aware of whether or not said horse can jump the height/width/object, but I'd guess that since this guy obviously had a long background (and no one ever spoke up to mention injury or anything that would hold the horse back) he could recognize a horse that just needed a more assertive ride. He demonstrated this to the rider and it seems improved them.

To answer the question: Jumpers is not all whips and spurs, which I did get a bit from the OP's post, but it is all about confidence and bravery and asking for huge efforts from the horses. This isn't hunters, where a ride is more conservative. Jumpers are expected to compete at higher speeds and (in most cases) higher obstacles, so, yes assertive rides are rewarded and lazy horses are taught to give 110%. There are the crazies, as with any discipline, that will whip a baby over 1.40m, but it doesn't seem unheard of that a trainer would ask a horse to jump these jumps, even with little experience. For most horses, 3'/solid walls don't actually take significant build up so long as they have been adequately muscled on the flat.

Ski'sthelimit
Jun. 3, 2011, 02:28 AM
Columbia Missouri or Columbia SA?

Sounds like a productive clinic session to me but, then again, I don't think 18" is "jumping" or that horses have to be babied through learning lead changes since they are born knowing them.

I think this person pushed your friend and that horse to get better

Agreed. minus the sass

Many 'trainers' (aka up-down-up-down pony/kids trainers) will keep a horse at 18'' for 3 months then move them to 2'6'' maybe then show them at schooling shows after a year or two of at home schooling... This is like studying a Dr. Seuss book for your entire freshman year of high school.

The horse is 6 years old 3'-3'6'' should be perfect for him.

But honestly I wasn't there didnt see if horse was timid or bad, or if the rider was riding him to bad spots... many variable unknown however i would say 2'9''-3' is a great height to start out at.

holaamigoalter
Jun. 3, 2011, 07:18 AM
Its not a cultural difference. It is the way some people do things. I am familiar with the style of "just do it" as we do that with most of our horses. The only time it can go wrong is if the trainer is not experienced enough to know when they are scaring the horse. You can have baby steps while still pushing the horse.

Think of it this way, if you want to run a marathon, your not going to run a mile one day and keep running a mile for a month. Every day your going to try and push yourself a little further. But say you are capable of running 5 miles and you keep running a mile, no one gets better. A 6 year old shoul be physically and mentally capable of jumping fences of that height and it sounds as though the trainer was pushing at a very reasonable pace. Your horse is running a mile but he is capable of running 5!

Gymnastics are a fantastic way of teaching an inexperienced horse to use itself. It makes the mistake the horses fault and a careful horse will learn quickly to fix it himself without extensive rider influence. Gymnastics will also help him develop the muscle that he needs to eventually move up to jumping 3' courses or higher. I wouldn't find it unreasonable it he had put the last jump of the gymnastics up to 3'6" so long as the horse was happy and sane doing it.

As far as smacking the horse to get over the line, that is reasonable. There is no better way to create a stopper than to let a horse continuously get away with unacceptable behavior. Even the best riders fall off sometimes, this trainer should have been better prepared for a stop IMO but I'm sure he learned from the experience and hopefully he didn't scare the horse. Sometimes a horse needs some good smacks to know that certain behavior is unacceptable. They have tough skin and in my experience, the slow ones have REALLY thick skin ;)

Good luck! If you were uncomfortable with the experience, I would find a trainer that is better at communicating with riders. In South America and Europe, the focus is training horses not riders so most don't know how to teach riders but are fantastic horse trainers. America is one of the only countries where the focus is training riders and horse training falls to the side. So find someone who is better at communicating with your rider and you.

ytr45
Jun. 3, 2011, 07:32 AM
Very interesting. Sounds like it might have all been normal-ish for a lesson with a serious jumper trainer. The horse hasn't been jumped again but it will be interesting to see if he is more forward with a work ethic or more stressed out. The girl who rides him is a lovely rider but very sweet and probably not used to being a big "smacker". The horse is a pokey little slug, the kind of horse that its impossible to get hurt on. So I was freaked out when the guy went over his neck. So it all sort of makes sense. Especially if 3' is not considered ginormous to you folks.

desert_rat
Jun. 3, 2011, 01:12 PM
When i was younger and braver I was sometimes the test dummy when trying out horses. It was not unheard of for us to put a horse over a 3'6" oxer its first time jumping just to see if it had potential. We set it up for success with a line set for their natural stride. Wheels did not come off and brains did not explode.

I used to ride the OTTB's and young ones my trainer had (she said I bounced better!). Remember one filly we broke at 4yo - sat on her back on the lunge on Saturday. Rode again in the indoor on Monday and on Wednesday we had her going down a grid with the last element at 3' oxer. Another trainer in the ring bought her right there for a crazy $.

Same thing with the OTTB's. We would bring them home from the track and see what they could do. That often meant something nearing 3' within hours of getting off the trailer. Once we knew what we had, moved forward with a training plan.

Agree with PP's...sounds like it was a little out of the comfort zone and a bit of a surprise as far as training methods.

GingerJumper
Jun. 3, 2011, 01:29 PM
Sounds within the normal range to me... considering that more than once I've been the rider sticking the horse and jumping what's considered to some to be "big."

I've got a 6yo who's been taking baby steps (mostly because we wanted more solid flat work first), but this week we've got it scheduled to set up a grid and do 2'6-3'. It's not out of his scope, he's brave, smart and balanced. He also does flying changes and has "jumped" a 2' with fillers quite capably.

I think it might have been more of a shock from not being used to seeing that... IMO, I'd go back to the trainer and get another lesson! He sounds like he did a good job by the horse.

bambam
Jun. 3, 2011, 02:19 PM
It sounds to me like the horse was not pushed too far, per say, (3' is well within what an average 6 year old should be able to do) but the horse was pushed out of it's comfort zone too fast. Particularly in your first lesson with an unfamiliar trainer goals and timelines should be discussed so the trainer doesn't ride your the horse you want to be a 2'3" hunter like it's headed to the 4' jumpers.

Grids should, in my experience, be built up element by element as the horse gets more comfortable. You would start with a pole as the first "jump", then make that a small jump and the next element a pole, moving down until the whole grid is set up. Then if things are going well you start to incrementally raise the height.

If the horse had never jumped above 18" before, it's not unreasonable to expect it to be jumping 2'9"-3" in a grid by the end of a good training session or lesson, but things need to be built up incrementally and if the horse gets scared and stops a couple times you need to go back a step or change something until the horse gets it's confidence back and then keep working up.

In short, it's hard to say definitively without being there, but I would not be happy with how it seems this person rode your horse. I would be really unimpressed if I had scheduled a lesson with a specific trainer and then am passed off to someone else without any notice beforehand and unless two trainers are partners in a business, this is not really usual. Lots of professional and "big name" jumper riders prefer to ride without helmets so that isn't unusual, but if you aren't comfortable with that you don't have to let them on your horse. I personally would not let someone on mine without a helmet. I wouldn't want to be, even indirectly, responsible for any sort of preventable accident!
This
3 foot is not big, especially at the end of a properly set up grid- but, if it were my horse, I would not like how it was introduced to a grid as I would not take a horse that has jumped a few 18 inch stand alone fences and point it at a full grid exercise. I would work up to it element by element. Based on the description of the horse, it may very well be he needed a lesson in when I say go you go and stay in front of my leg, but the way the jumps were introduced would not be my cup of tea even in that instance. But then again I am not a BNT/Olympian jumper pro.
The real test will be when the horse is jumped again- did it gain or lose confidence by this approach? depending on the horse and how this all actually played out in the lesson, could go either way I think

Losgelassenheit
Jun. 3, 2011, 03:15 PM
IMHO, based on the refusals you describe coupled with the fact that he's a 6 y/o only jumping 18" (unless of course he has some type of negative history), I would imagine the aggressive ride being somewhat of a matter of showing the horse who's boss after being "coddled" and allowed to be lazy. I say this tentatively however, having not been there to see firsthand nor being the actual rider to feel. Babying a horse through the learning process only invites more trouble after a certain point because a lot of it can actually act as reinforcement of bad behaviors.

That being said, there is a fine line, and I have personal experience dealing with the aftermath of young horses that have been ruined by overly aggressive riding, but that entailed overfacing the horse completely (ie. chasing the horse with lunge whips through a chute to a 4'+ fence with rider also beating its backside the entire way through).

The exercises & heights you describe are common in training young horses as young as age 4. While I personally would have stopped after the grid-work and gone back to reinforcing "FORWARD" in general before employing it over fences -- (after all, "jumping is simply flatwork with fences in the way!" ;)) -- this should have been something that your friend taught the horse prior to undertaking any type of over-fences training, especially before bringing it along to someone else. This trainer got on the horse as a result of its disobediance and essentially worked with what he had. He was also there to see the horse in person unlike me here behind a screen ;) so he likely determined just how far he could safely push the horse, and I would say this was evidenced by the difference in the horse at the end. Perhaps it was just shocking to you being less familiar with the jumping discipline and seeing an aggressive ride right off the bat? But think of it this way, too.. How will the horse ever develop and get better if he is not pushed a bit and actually asked to stretch his abilities?

Did the trainer give any parting advice to your friend on things to work on back at home? I'd be curious to hear.

On another note that's been eating at me.. if the horse is neither brave nor athletic, where did the idea even come from to get into this kind of training with him?

Lastly, I don't care how good you are. BNT, Grand Prix rider, whatever.. a helmet is a MUST for me. But as always in this world, to each his own. :)

dags
Jun. 3, 2011, 03:15 PM
The horse is a pokey little slug, the kind of horse that its impossible to get hurt on.

Actually, quite the opposite is true when you throw jumps into the mix. They need to react and react promptly when cued, or else very bad things happen. I'm guessing the horse got more of a desperately needed tune up than a progression in training, and I would strongly encourage you to go back and see what the next steps are in this program. I bet there is far less whip involved . . . unless you wait too long and the tune dissolves and you again show up with the pokey slug who's eventually going to get someone stuck in the middle of an oxer.

Don't confuse laziness with a lack of athleticism. ;)

naturalequus
Jun. 3, 2011, 04:52 PM
Especially if 3' is not considered ginormous to you folks.

3' might be ginormous to some of us as riders, but it's not ginormous to the conditioned and athletic jumper-destined horse ;) Especially not the horse who, albeit green, is 'doing well' at 18'' and especially not when the horse is built up to it via grids/exercises within that session.

Second not to confuse laziness with lack of athleticism. I've got one really 'lazy' gelding who has a ton of athleticism, even for just 15.1hh. On a related note, it's the rider's job to 'balance out' a horse. That means installing more forward (ie, respect to you and thus your aids and leg) on the 'lazy' horse and 'toning down' the horse with too much forward, and channeling their forward.

As for how the grid itself was introduced, I recently attended a BNT (Olympian) clinic with my one guy (whom I've spent the past 2 1/2 years re-starting and preparing for a jumping career) who did send us over grids with increasing heights... he had us go over one jump, then a line of two jumps, then one jump of the second line, then two, then over the entire grid finally. I agree with the BNT we clinic'd under that day that introducing the entire grid to a horse who has never done such a course before would have been over-facing him. As it were, my horse stopped quite a few times (my fault entirely!) - had we done the entire grid from the hop, he would have stopped a bunch more times, even. Instead, he introduced the grid gradually and appropriately. The height certainly wasn't a problem for my boy, only for me (though I LOFF jumping, I seem to lack the bravery I had when I was yay-high and jumping, lol!), for the record. This is why I made the point in my post earlier that while the actual grid, the height, and the changes were within the norms of training a jumper (especially in a clinic-type setting), how it was introduced might have been of concern, especially if the ride was aggressive and composed of sending the horse over the entire grid from the hop (ie, possibly setting the horse up for failure), as opposed to assertive and setting the horse up for success (ie, introducing the grid gradually).

ETA: second also establishing forward on the flat (only takes 15min at most!) then putting that over fences, but I wasn't there, and this was a jumping session with a BNT *shrug*.

As for the helmet, to each their own. I certainly wouldn't walk away from say a Greg Best or George Morris or what clinic (just as examples) because either of them didn't wear a helmet that day - they have much to teach me.

Old Fashioned
Jun. 3, 2011, 05:56 PM
It sounds like the horse and rider got a great education and a good place to work from. :D

It's almost as detrimental to underwhelm a horse with training as overwhelm him. 18" cross rails are more like cavaletti and for a mature horse isn't even a blip on the jump radar. At some point if you want to progress you have to move on/up or be stuck indefinitely.

Bogie
Jun. 3, 2011, 06:07 PM
This is kind of how it reads to me, too.

For point of reference, when I started my first horse over fences we jumped him through a grid or two then my trainer hopped on and jumped him over everything in the outdoor -- rollbacks, oxers, picket fences etc. Most of the fences were about 2'6".

She kept it very matter of fact and the horse was fine.

5-6 weeks later we jumped our first novice XC course in competition.

I think that if you're in that program and as a rider, you're not adding a lot of anxiety to the horse, it's perfectly fine to progress that way.

For your friend, it might have been too much, but it sounds like she needed some helping getting the horse moving forward over the fences.


To me it sounds like your friend is the one overfaced. Doesn't sound like she wants to actually jump over 18" as you said she was too timid to ride aggressively to the bigger jumps.

BeeHoney
Jun. 4, 2011, 04:38 PM
As the responses show, there is a wide range of practices out there. There are trainers out there that baby their horses along, jumping tiny stuff for way too long. This might be perfectly appropriate in the situation of a green horse and an inexperienced or timid rider, though. Then, there are are trainers that expect a lot more much more quickly. This also can go either way. With a confident, experienced rider and a knowledgeable person setting the exercises this can be very effective and appropriate. OTOH, over facing a horse when starting jumping can also be a bad mistake.

One thing I will say though is this: with a sound and reasonably athletic horse, the jump height in a grid isn't really so much of an issue, as long as the grid is introduced in a stepwise fashion. Unless the rider isn't confident about it! I definitely agree that horses need to learn to have some energy and carry pace and attention when jumping, and the rider needs to be confident enough to ask for that.

In the OP's case, it sounds like this lesson was towards the aggressive end of the range--just a little too far out of the pair's comfort zone given that the rider was not experienced either. Sure, they got a lot done in that lesson, but training horses (and riders) isn't about having one brilliant lesson where you get all the work done. Sometimes horses (and riders) get rattled or overwhelmed when you try to teach them too much too fast. The real test of how good that lesson was or not is how the horse went the next few rides after that lesson.

Also, I am well aware that many (many) trainers do not wear helmets when schooling at home, but I absolutely count that as a mark against any trainer no matter how good they otherwise are. A helmet is appropriate, basic safety gear. People can do whatever they want, but no one mounts one of my horses without one.

SBT
Jun. 4, 2011, 06:43 PM
How has the horse been going since this schooling session?

THIS. I have been witness to some jumping lessons that made ME cringe in sympathy, but the horse never appeared overly stressed (physically or mentally) and was 110% better afterwards. If the methods used aren't blatantly cruel or counterproductive, AND the horse responds well, then it works for that horse. :yes:

Stellar_moves
Jun. 4, 2011, 09:25 PM
I haven't read any of the posts on this but here's my opinion:

This guy seems a little off his rocker. Considering the horse has only went over 18', is really green, and isn't necessarily the bravest or most athletic thing, this guy pushed it a little too much. Now, if the horse has jumped 3' and is a little more brave, then I wouldn't necessarily see the clinic or lesson as a huge issue.. although the smacking seemed kind of aggressive. Don't go back... For your horse's sake. Some horses (from my experience) can take that kind of training the wrong way and be scared to jump after being beaten like that. Try looking for a different trainer.. Or request to be trained by the person you originally met.

Isabeau Z Solace
Jun. 5, 2011, 11:14 AM
OP - Sounds pretty typical for a BNT experience in my neck of the woods. The trainer gave you a good clue when he told you he "wanted to see what the horse could do." In my experience BNT is likely more interested in the horse and less interested in the rider(s.)

It is not uncommon for the attitude to be 'well do you want to jump or not ?' Sounds like you got in over your head with this instructor and I can sympathize... You didn't know what you were in for and then you felt unsure about speaking up. So now you know better. In the future you will know that BNT = likely to get your ass kicked big time... OR be ready to speak up FAST when you are uncomfortable or you will likely get steamrolled.

Okay, some BNT are pussy cats. But especially when it comes to jumping, don't count on it !