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  1. #1
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    Default How much do you "jump" a 4 year old?

    Hi all, I'm wandering over here from dressage-land. I'll be riding a coming 4 year old in a couple of months. He's very nicely started under saddle (w-t-c) and he'll primarily be a dressage horse for now. But I'd like to jump him here and there for cross-training, giving him something else to do, keep his mind fresh, etc. I think he has another inch to grow and he needs to fill out.

    What kinds of "jumping" exercises do people do with a 4 year old? What is too much? (I put jumping in quotes because this horse probably will never see a real fence with me on board!). Thanks!
    Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation



  2. #2
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    For a 4-year-old hunter, I'd expect them to already be quietly cantering around courses around 2'3"-2'6" once a week or so with the occasionally higher single fence.

    For a 4-year-old destined for a dressage career but wanting to dabble over the jumps, I'd start with some trot poles, cantering over a few flower boxes on the ground, and then gradually working up to trotting small cross rails and verticals and then cantering out of lines. I think, based on your goals for said horse, it would be hard to do "too much".


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  3. #3
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    My four year old was doing the baby greens once a month at rated shows. So, 2'6" courses.


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  4. #4
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    I have a 4 y/o mare and we showed in the crossrails this past summer and moved up to the 2'6 division at the last show in August.
    She is now schooling 2'6-2'9 once a week but only a total of 8-10 fences.
    Just enough so I see noticeable improvement and I finish with more flatwork.
    She doesn't have the muscle stamina for many of the higher fences.

    I will likely be moving her up to 3' schooling once she hits 5 y/o. But I tend to always stick to the once a week school with hacking and flatwork.

    My other two times I ride I work primarily with ground poles and suppling.


    Regarding your question on what I do for exercises.
    I do a lot of gymnastics, mainly following the 101 Jumping book.
    Since I am stuck in the small indoor, I am restricted to 1-3 stride lines so I prefer the trot in once stride gym's with trot poles and landing poles on the out.
    Last edited by pryme_thyme; Dec. 19, 2012 at 05:51 PM. Reason: Forgot to answer the rest of the question.



  5. #5
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    Mar. 24, 2012
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    It really depends on the horse. Start with trot poles, then when your horse is quiet over thos and not ticking them, move to cross rails, then bigger cross rails, and then courses of cross rails, and so on.

    In short, don't go for as high as possible as fast as possible.

    I jump my four year old about once or twice a week over cross rails and 2'. He's not a bad jumper, we just want to make sure that he has a really good foundation before we take him higher.


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  6. #6
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    One worry is that by jumping (especially a big horse) over a lot of tiny fences you are actually hurting his form and teaching him to step over obstacles rather than jump them.


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  7. #7
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    Depends on the horse, rider, circumstances. But in Eventing, 4 year olds can compete throughTraining (3'3") and some, but not most, do.
    Janet

    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).



  8. #8
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    My last 4 year old (an eventer) did a handful of novice events (2'11"). He rarely jumped more than once every 10 days...but he was a prodigy.

    It really depends on the horse. Some horses take to jumping with incredible ease. Some struggle along for awhile or need to be babied a bit.



  9. #9
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    Mine is a forever horse, so I am keeping him low....2 ft at most (he is a pony)yntil he is 5. I want to make sure he is done growing and strong Just my choice.
    Save a life...be an organ donor! Visit www.Transplantbuddies.org


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  10. #10
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    Thanks, everyone! I didn't realize that 4 year olds could jump that much (hahaha- I envisioned jumping 2' max as a 4 year old). Like Tha Ridge said, I'm a dabbler in jumping and just wish to cross-train - I wouldn't press as much as many of you do preparing a hunter/jumper. Pryme-thyme that's exactly the info I was looking for. Thanks! AmmybyNature, thanks for that interesting tidbit of information regarding horses getting sloppy by jumping lots of small jumps. This guy has a full sibling with a hunter career, and if he doesn't like dressage he'll probably be redirected to the hunters.
    Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation



  11. #11
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    I would not do more than crossrails for the next year and not more than once a week at that.

    Best to let him finish growing before you stress him joints to much.


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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silk View Post
    Mine is a forever horse, so I am keeping him low....2 ft at most (he is a pony)yntil he is 5. I want to make sure he is done growing and strong Just my choice.
    THIS!


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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by J-Lu View Post
    Hi all, I'm wandering over here from dressage-land. I'll be riding a coming 4 year old in a couple of months. He's very nicely started under saddle (w-t-c) and he'll primarily be a dressage horse for now. But I'd like to jump him here and there for cross-training, giving him something else to do, keep his mind fresh, etc. I think he has another inch to grow and he needs to fill out.

    What kinds of "jumping" exercises do people do with a 4 year old? What is too much? (I put jumping in quotes because this horse probably will never see a real fence with me on board!). Thanks!
    This is a video of my coming 4 year old, and this is what we do at that age...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtZWcc7qszA
    We do this about twice a week and ist more supposed to be fun, and to teach her how to get her legs organized... And she is supposed to become a dressage horse too.. But especially at this age, they need to learn and to see as many different things as possible.. They are like a sponge...



  14. #14
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    That horse looks a lot like mine!! 3yo's should not be doing more than that, IMO. Horses turning 5 next month can step it up a little, unless they are tall and gangly and still growing, like mine.



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manni01 View Post
    This is a video of my coming 4 year old, and this is what we do at that age...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtZWcc7qszA
    We do this about twice a week and ist more supposed to be fun, and to teach her how to get her legs organized... And she is supposed to become a dressage horse too.. But especially at this age, they need to learn and to see as many different things as possible.. They are like a sponge...
    See, but that doesn't look effective to me... I see a very, very cute horse who is largely being allowed to just trot over a caveletti with hocks trailing, landing stiff and counterbent, and then at the canter, seems to rush and evade. I would, personally, expect a coming 4-year-old to know a lot more, especially over poles/cavaletti.


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  16. #16
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    for a dressage horse..
    cross training helps them so much!
    Many of the big farms free jump all of their dressage horses each week.

    Under saddle it's great to do lots of raised cavaletti.
    Canter poles set as bounces as Xs to 1' high is a great exercise.
    Start with one and end with 4. I would adjust them to the horses stride. Maybe try 10 feet and move as needed from there.

    Other than that--the horses have a great time over the very small XC stuff. The stuff you can walk and trot over.

    It's basically a game and fun play for them. No need to let it worry you when they are lower than 2'.

    In regards to the video showed...
    That's pretty unorganized and it's too easy therefore does not demand attention.

    If organization and coordination is what you desire then give them something they need to look down at--stretch their necks, use their back and pay attention too.

    I currently have an OTTB. Last race was in Sept.
    The very first ride he was trotting through 4 trot poles.

    I also do things like place every other trot pole at a diagonal so that you have stay in the middle.
    I do A LOT of raised cavaletti. The youngin can only handle 3 before he gets quick but my other horse used to do up to 12 in a row!

    Anything that makes them think about what they are doing and articulate their hocks is what serves best. The horse in the video doesn't have to think or use itself at all. That was like a crash course. lol.
    http://kaboomeventing.com/
    http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
    Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by purplnurpl View Post
    In regards to the video showed...
    That's pretty unorganized and it's too easy therefore does not demand attention.

    If organization and coordination is what you desire then give them something they need to look down at--stretch their necks, use their back and pay attention too.
    Exactly! It doesn't have to be big, but letting an athletic horse plop over a single cavaletti is much too easy—even at 3 or 4 years old, a row of multiple cavaletti will at least get them using that back end and keeping their attention on the job at hand. I don't think there's any reason why a young horse can't or shouldn't regularly work over cavaletti. If it's done right, it won't break them.



  18. #18
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    The big thing for the OPs horse will be, trot trot trot into everything.
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
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    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tha Ridge View Post
    See, but that doesn't look effective to me... I see a very, very cute horse who is largely being allowed to just trot over a caveletti with hocks trailing, landing stiff and counterbent, and then at the canter, seems to rush and evade. I would, personally, expect a coming 4-year-old to know a lot more, especially over poles/cavaletti.
    I agree. I rather see it trotting through trot poles and cantering in an organization over poles and cavalettis in a more structured fashion. This is what I would do with a baby horse who's just mastered w/t/c.



  20. #20
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    Maybe you are right, we are just Dressage riders who want to give our horse a little distraction. Of course poles and a little row would be more effective. But I have to confess that we just got started with this. I mean the horse is still only three and the winter is not over. I guess during the next months we will introduce trotting over poles and doing little rows. But I tried to answer the question of the OP and his horse obviously is even less advanced than ours (although I consider our horse very unexperienced which I like. Many 3 year olds in Germany are more advanced at this age)
    And this video shows the very beginning of our horse....
    For me this is enough at that point. This is supposed to be a forever horse and not a sales horse which needs to show a lot....


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