Many of us school over fences 2 - 3 days a week; if you are competing at lets say 3 ft..... do you always school 3 ft or do you do 2'3" - 2'6" and when you have a show do a few at 3 ft?
I would love to get an idea of what most of you do. I think I am paranoid - I want to jump but I also know I need to protect my horses legs the best I can... I think a lot can be done over smaller fences... the hardest part to me is not the height, it's in-between the jumps that usually needs the most work...
"Don't saw on your horses mouth it's not a piece of wood" ~ GM
You need to balance saving their legs with jumping obstacles substantial enough that they do not become careless with their form. If I jumped my 3'6" horse over 2' his form will become sloppy. Greener horses might need more jumps to stay tuned up, while seasoned horses with tons of miles you want to limit their jumps to save their bodies since they already know their job.
My horse shows 3'6"- when jumping at home I usually do a warm-up jump at 2'6" or 2'9" and then all everything else is 3'-3'6" and sometimes some bigger stuff. He's a green horse, he requires a lot of jump schooling to stay tuned up. I do a high frequency in jumping days--I might jump 2-3 days a week but sometimes I might do just a few fences.
With my older horse I only jumped her once, maybe twice, a week, sometimes more infrequently than that when not preparing for a show.
Really it just depends on their horse and rider. There's no perfect formula that will guarantee you perpetual soundness and a perfectly behaved horse.
Good shoeing, good footing, good diet, and good conformation are your best allies in keeping a horse healthy and sound. A thoughtful training program will also help, but I think those four things probably carry more weight than anything. If you're in a place where horses live in box stalls, more turnout can also help.
If you are weak between the fences, do lots and lots of cavaletti and pole work. Low strain and if done correctly, really beneficial. It also doesn't encourage your horse to be sloppy over fences.
Some horses get really sloppy if they jump low fences. Some horses can jump low fences and march around the bigger stuff like a pro. Some people need to jump higher at home to feel comfortable at the shows. Some people are fine schooling lower and waiting until the show to jump higher. It just depends on the person and horse.
We jump little stuff on our own 2-3 times a week. Mostly little crossrails, 2 or 2'3 verticals, logs, whatever is set up. Probably only 3 or 4 jumps per ride. (If I am working on something in particular involving issues in between fences, I am more apt to do it over ground poles rather than fences when I am practicing.) We work in the jumps during the flatwork vs. save them for the end or whatever. Helps relax him (walk...trot...oh and hey here is a cross rail...trot...walk...canter...hey, there's a vertical) and really makes it a part of flatwork.
In our weekly lessons, we don't really jump a TON either. Work on something a little bit different every week - lots of technical stuff, vs going over and over lines/courses etc. We start with fences low and then gradually raise them - the last time or two through the exercise will generally be at show height (3ft), but that's it.
I'm fine to not jump show height much at home and just let it roll at shows. Horse isn't particularly sloppy at low heights, but the higher heights do make him jump better...but I haven't found that jumping him low at home is detrimental to how he jumps the higher stuff.
I prefer to keep our fitness routine to a moderate amount of lower stuff a few times a week vs. big stuff once a week.
If I were riding 6 days a week (2-3 jumping) and showing at 3', and my issues were more with the flat work in between the jumps as opposed to the jumps themselves, I would have 1-2 days a week crossrails-<2' verticles (not excessive, just maybe 6-8 jumps working on any given exercise that my horse needs work on). Then one day a week I would up the jumps to 2'6" with a few 3' thrown in. I would then do a couple warm up jumps/things I had worked on over lower jumps earlier in the week, and then throw a full course together and maybe do it twice.
I am not one to overdo it. If your horse is "made" and doesn't really need the work and is on the older side, then don't do as much. If your horse is green and needs the work, then up it a little. A LOT can be done to fix problems over poles/low crossrails.
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I very rarely jump big fences at home. Now and then, we might do a big gymnastic, but since we show for most of the spring/summer, when we are home, it's down time for Nikki. Sometimes we'll school over a big track simply because the pace we need is so different - but not more than once a week.
Now that it's winter and I'm done showing... well, last week, I had two lessons where we jumped, and we did about 2'6''. I find that we can accomplish a lot with tricky courses and small fences that don't take much out of the horses.
At home I hardly ever go above 3ft. Heck, hardly ever above 2'6". I have a young horse, I want to save her legs. It helps both of us to work over smaller fences. Like me with my "eye" and never seeing a distance when going to a single fence for some weird reason.. lol. I do try to incorporate cavaletti and gymnastics. But, like I said, nothing high.
I have older horses (13 and 15 years) and they are trained (dressage mostly) but have only been jumping for a year or so.
Some pretty successful trainers I know keep things at home pretty basic and pop over a larger jump every once in a while.... and if there is a show coming they will raise them up a bit... but mostly school lower. But then I have seen some training thoughts to put the jumps up most of the time and I worry about that. I guess having older horses that I must maintain and properly care for is always a question for me. It's nice to hear what others are doing and how they maintain a nice balance.
I don't really feel the horses need much schooling over fences, it's their owner that does.
"Don't saw on your horses mouth it's not a piece of wood" ~ GM
I only jump my horse one or two times a week and then at shows. When we jump at home, the fences are very small, maybe 2', so it doesn't put as much strain on my horse. We do lots and lots of flatwork during the week and that helps us for the times that we do jump.
"Many are riders; many are craftsmen; but few are artists on horseback."
Jump 2-3 times a week, less in a week that we're planning to show. One of those times might be show height (3' for us) but the others won't. Instead we work on tricky stuff. We do a lot of flatwork, including on the days we jump. So we won't necessarily jump a lot of fences. I think we jumped about 20-25 yesterday, including warming up. Did a trot in - canter out a couple of times, jumped about six other fences in the ring, and then did a long-ish course.
I have two horses, of whom I ride completely differently.
My mare is training Novice/Elementary dressage. She is a steady 3 foot jumper, plenty of scope for more but just had some unfortunate events this year which didn't allow us to compete - thus I did not bother to try and further her training hugely, as the majority of her problems happen in a new environment. She is super spooky, overly careful and stops on a dime if the atmosphere is "scary" so there's not too much I can do to help her train at home, it's just miles! However, I like to do lots of crosses with her to keep her feeling confident about her fences because she does get spooky and worried about them. I only jump her once a week, normally doing grids and courses of crosses. In prep for a show I will put the fences up to height, maybe a bit bigger to get her used to seeing a bigger fence. With her, it's ALWAYS relaxation first.
My gelding is training Preliminary dressage and is still very young. He previously jumped round his 1.20m-1.30m tracks with the Show Jumper I bought him from in Australia, however having bought him, his flatwork is terrible and I have taken him back to the beginning. At the moment, the majority of our work in a jumping session is done over single poles and grids with poles. I might do a few crosses and a small vertical with V rails to help him keep straight. The priority is keeping him soft, loose, rhythmic and straight.
I never jump more then twice a week, I want to preserve my horses and keep them keen! They get one rest day, one trail riding day, one jump day, two flat days (with one day maybe having poles depending where I ride on the property) and the other day they are handwalked the day after they jump. I do not have a groom, I do this all myself.
I show mostly 3' and rarely school over 2'6" at home. My horse goes in two jumping lessons a week with the fences set at 2'6". My trainer occasionally jacks up a fence in lessons to keep him sharp. In early March we'll do a some lessons at 3' but that is mostly to get ME ready for the shows. I like to hack in the big grass jumping field outside of lessons. Sometimes I tool around over the outside hunter course (usually set at 2') just to reinforce a no-big-deal attitude.
It really just depends on the horse though. I have a really big, confident horse. We do a lot in the warmer months - shows, events, clinics, xc schooling, etc. He doesn't need the pounding on his legs at home. On the other hand, my old TB needed very consistent 3' - 3'3 schooling at home in order to compete in the childrens hunters. He was a chicken.
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When I was showing my old horse I usually kept the fences small - just enough for me to tune my eye. But I usually set the gymnastic 6" bigger than what we were showing at, just to school his form.
With the green bean I suspect my plan will be to school him over stuff at least 3" bigger than he is showing at so the show feels more like a step down than a step up. But since he hasn't even cantered a line yet, I may be getting ahead of myself, planning-wise.
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I usually jump 1-3 small fences almost everytime I ride (depending on the horse I'm riding). My horses tend to get really bored with flatwork, etc. I jump school (courses) each horse 1-4 times per month depending on shows etc. When I do my 3ft horses jump 3'3-3'6, 3'3 horses jump 3'6-3'9, 3'6 horses jump 3'9-4', ect. It works for me.
I only jump school once a week. I like to refer to them as "strategically scheduled jump schools" because I typically do them when I can tell my pony is getting pretty bored/grumpy with dressage. Sometimes I have weeks where I don't jump at all (like this week!). I've found that his jumping is far better/easier when our flatwork is going really well anyway.
My pony and I just finished up a season doing 3' and we're moving up to 3'3" next season. I'll typically set jumps anywhere from 2'6" to 3'9", depending on what we're working on. But most of the time the jumps are in the 2'9"/3' range. I'm not too concerned about the height since we don't jump school a lot and because I don't drill the jumping when we do.
For the green ones I prefer to school a bit higher at home and for older, to keep them alert, I like to set up nice gymnastics.
But I usually jump 1-2 times per week and do 3-4 dressage session, lunge 1 and 1 free turn out day. Some trail rides before or after session if weather is ok.
As I believe lower fences, gymnastics and pole grids are highly valuable, I think it is important to jump as high as the horse will need to jump at shows on a regular basis as to get fit enough to do the jumps without getting injured. Muscles and tendons needs to be prepared and it is not by jumping 2'6 that the horse will get the strenght to jump 3'6 courses at shows and staying sound. And since my goal with my 6yrs mare is to do the big hunter shows, we are getting her fit for that by putting bars a little higher each time!
I saved the big jumps mostly for lessons. But some of the hardest lessons I have ever had have been over courses of poles on the ground.
I don't see a point in jumping "show height" every day, but I'm not crazy competitive and mostly only show for fun.
My horse jumps 1-2 times a week. The only time we go over 3ft is for a gymnastic or an oxer that my trainer doesn't want to adjust! Most of the time, we keep it around 2'9. I think even if I did jump higher regularly, my 10yr old horse would still be fine, (never overjumped and has plenty of time to rest).