Free jumping is a very good way for horses to learn bad habits/poor jumping technique. Aside from free-jumping a few times when youngsters to get an idea of their ability (or in-hand to get them over ditches/banks the first couple of times), I don't have a lot of use for it. Neither do any of the BNTs I've ridden with.
Much better to teach the horse to go correctly while sitting on them.
I enjoy free jumping-- mostly because my horses enjoy it. I like to watch their technique, and let them figure out footwork questions on their own. I don't think they learn any more bad habits free jumping than they do when I ride them-- mistakes are inevitable!
It's fun to watch a horse who truly loves to jump-- you set the fences, stand back, and watch them perform on their own. I don't use a whip or anything with my mare-- just two dinky chute rails to help her say straight. I taught her with a bucket of grain-- chased her over an X once, gave her a treat, and that's all it took. Now I stand back with a handful of mints, she jumps and comes back to me for a treat. I raise the jump, stand back, and she goes around again on her own.
Is it a very valuable training tool? No, not really. But it's a nice change of pace on a rainy day in the indoor. What's wrong with having a little fun with your horse?
“A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
? Albert Einstein
only something I've ever done with youngsters. There it has a great value of letting them sort out their body parts and mechanics of jumping without the distraction of a rider.
I think with properly set gymnastics, it has it use for experienced horses too but the exercises would have to be well set and well designed. I just rarely have bothered. Bucking on landing wouldn't bother me nor would I think it would translate to bucking undersaddle....just as I can ride my horse accross his pasture and he knows not to buck, play and graze then.....
** The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits. -- Albert Einstein **
Used judiciously, I think free jumping can be very beneficial. I found it useful for learning more about my youngster's jumping style and for how she figures things out. Granted, I could have learned this while riding. However, in the beginning I was just doing W/T and some canter with her and didn't want to push the jumping issue when she was still learning the basics of how to carry a rider.
Once my horse was going reliably at W/T/C I dispensed with the jump chute and just rode her through
With the exception of introducing the concept of jumping to a youngster (and even then, it isn't really necessary) and maybe to get an idea for a horse's aptitude for jumping, I think it is mostly just a fun change of pace. The couple of times I've done it with experienced horses, it has been a cold day that no one felt like riding on...so we built a chute and sent everyone through. The most interesting part was seeing the brave, game horses, the scopey ones, and the ones that just have limited to no desire and/or ability. It pretty much matched how they were exactly under saddle.
I wouldn't do it regularly with a going horse, but if I was bored I might for the hell of it. However, I typically like to save the jumps my horse has for me!
Really...I use it on a regular bases. I find it helps encourage a horse to find its own balance and gain confidence in jumping before introducing a rider.
In some horses it lets them develope a natural eye and helps teach them rythmn and stride.
But I have a my own pen set up just for this, and they can't just take off across a big ring.
When we re-start OTTB under tack and introduce jumping unser tack jumps are virtually a non issue..its like Oh Yeah I know this.
Less stopping spooking and more going forward and on not sticking.
Where its Less Help is on already made horses, some will run and flatten out careen around and just be stupid.
For greenies done correctly and w/ the right gymnastics I find its a super tool.