Do you bother with a horse that isn't naturally forward and brave to fences?
This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. I used to ride a mare who was really sticky, squirmy, and had to be driven to every single fence.
I've heard a lot of people say they won't bother with these types for eventing - that the horse has to have that natural bravery and desire to jump. We've all known those types who prick their ears and drag you to the fence, and those who are backed off and need convincing for every single fence.
As a dedicated adult ammy, I would have to say I would avoid this kind of ride. I only have time and resources for one horse so it needs to be something I would enjoy. I think that the horse you are describing wouldn't be much fun for me as I would always be worried about the "why" of why this horse didn't seem to *want* to do its job. I don't need to be drug to the fences but I do love one that has ears forward seeking the next fence.
I don't think I would willingly ride one, no. I have ridden a few squirmy wormies that were babies, but those usually find their rhythm and start to have fun as they go along. I've also ridden a few going horses that weren't the bravest souls in the world, but when confidently ridden were fun partners. The trick was being a confident rider. One I had to STUFF over a training level show jumping oxer...we WORE it, took it all down, but once he realized I was THAT committed to the other side of the fence, even when he thought it was scary, he got MUCH more forward thinking and eventually took to dragging me around. Which was challenging, since he was way too big for me! . Another one needed to be ridden quite forward between the first few fences to get him thinking "go!", but would often find his own engine after about fence 3. He also needed time to analyze things like water, coffins, and things with drops, but if I sat still with my legs on, he ALWAYS jumped. Sometimes we slithered over things so he could be very deliberate with his feet, but if I did my job, he ALWAYS did his (I loved that horse).
But I would not ride a horse that I have to kick and drive and beat at every single fence, every time out. That's just not a happy horse.
No. I stuck it out with my homebred mare for 7 years and the day I rode a different horse who said "oh, cool, can I jump the next one?" I realized my mare needed a new job. And she's fantastic at it - she loves to jump, but only in the arena.
I won't do that again. It was a long, frustrating 7 years where I kept thinking I just needed to give her a better ride.
Where is this horse at in it's jumping education? Just starting out? I've had a few that went through a phase like that, and eventually grew out of it once they became more confident. If this is a seasoned horse, I'd be more leery, since it's not as likely to improve.
I also don't like riding a horse that is literally dragging me to every fence - been there, done that, got the not-fun T-shirt. Confident is good, pushy and rushing is not. My current horse goes a bit like a hunter o/f, which some might not consider "brave", but he goes where I ask at the speed I ask and seems to enjoy himself. He's big, with a long stride, and a less confident rider would end up pushing and rushing him into the fences, which would shatter his currently fragile, greenie confidence.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what
lies with in us. - Emerson
No. Been there, done that, waste of time and money and may not be the best for rider confidence, either.
You can tell from very early on which type of horse you have. A squirmy baby who has NO CLUE may stop or suck back at an especially scary jump, water, bank etc if they aren't sure, but once they start to figure out that it is FUN you will be able to tell. It is ok if they aren't perfect all the time when they are learning, but if the horse isn't forward and won't take you to most of the fencesit is an entirely different thing.
I can't, because I don't have the skills to swap between my adorable, forward, loves-to-jump Po, and a kick along. I know, because I am trying. Even though kick-along spooky mare loves to jump and will jump anything, it's getting her there that is so frustrating. Last time I tried to ride miss kick-along, when I'd been riding speedy-Po, I fell off at the first. I just don't have an adaptable mind. I don't know what it would be like to only ride the slower one, though. I can't imagine it leaving you with that Huge Huge grin though.
It's so much easier to ride a horse that wants to jump! I personally don't want to bother with a horse that really isn't interested. I had a horse that just hated cross country. In a ring he'd jump anything but it was painful to get around a xc course on him. I eventually decided to compete him as a jumper.
However, if a horse is a bit green and uncertain about cross county, a season or two foxhunting might help. Following another horse over fences can make it a lot less scary.
I dunno. I just sold a youngster who started out The Worst Jumper Ever. And I'm not kidding. He was just awful and didn't get it.
So, we just piddled around and I popped him over things here and there and made a big fuss every time he landed on the other side. My trainer did a grid lesson with us and said "Well, at least he's nice on the flat..."
So, last may we did our first recognized HT and he didn't miss a beat. Jumped around like a rockstar. Now very bold.
So, if it's a greenie, I think it can be taught, BUT it has to be with the right rider in the irons, and if the rider is timid or easy rocked at all, it won't work.
Dappled, at first many green horses look or act reluctant or unsure and have to be "ridden". I think many riders THINK they can ride a forward horse and find they are in trouble when they actually get on such a horse and find out you STILL need a quiet seat and secure leg, even if you don't need to put that leg ON the horse. Riding with ones hands is easy. Riding with your seat and leg is hard -- thus the correlation between riding a horse that drags you around (hands) and a horse that needs more confidence. (Although I am generalizing a bit here.)
My feeling is this: You can always school a horse to the leg. Actually anyone who can hold a crop can school a horse to the leg.( I am reminded of the para Olympians who ride with NO legs and just whips to steer and ride at the upper levels.) Horses can be trained to go forward in many ways, there are many roads to Rome -- it's a matter of the amount of time a rider would like to put in schooling a horse to the job it is to do.
Horses that are nappy are another thing entirely; I am thinking of a horse that is as you describe, just not naturally forward at first, or quite as brave as you would like. A deliberate horse is still just as good, you just have to find its "smart button" in the process of training, I think.
Totally depends on where they are. DH's horse has never been exceptionally "bold" to his fences (he wiggle waggled with me around a NOVICE course the first three fences... a month after running Advanced!) and he sure was a looker and stutter-stepper at first, but now he kicks it into gear after the first two or three and then he's a machine (it's like he has to remember that he's going cross country, and it's actually fun!). So I guess I don't mind so much if they're not barreling down to everything (I rather like how careful our guy is at times), but if you're having to beat them over every. single. fence- who is that fun for?
Nope!!! It gets really old, really fast going toward a jump and wondering if both of you plan to jump it!!! I don't do crazy forward, but I do want a horse who intends to jump!! Too much work to "pedal" and ride!!
A 'no' from me too. My favourite ride is when they lock-on to the fence and really want to go to it. I don't mind if they're hot about it, I had to learn to ride this; how to sit deep and still with a soft, allowing hand and supportive leg (only took 3-4mths on my hot jumper mare to get really in tune - some of the early rides I did think I'd bought too much horse).
The next one I buy is going to have that kind of jump. I'm no good at a kick ride.
IME, there are some horses that are bold from Day 1, some that are bold a little later, and some that are just never bold and brave. Type 1 is easy-- obviously they love the job. Types 2 and 3 are a little harder to distinguish; at what point do you give up and say it won't ever happen?
Out of a couple dozen horses I've taught to jump, most of them took to it immediately. A few of them didn't-- but with confident, positive riding they soon came to enjoy it. "Positive riding" in the case of one particularly fat QH meant beating his butt the last 3 strides over a tiny crossrail...but two months later he would pack anyone around a 2' course if they could steer. He came to enjoy jumping so much he would leave his field via the 3'6" xc bank in the fenceline and wander around the farm!
Another talented young horse was not totally thrilled with the idea of jumping, but he, too, came around in a few months...longer than I thought it would take, but he became incredibly bold and brave as he developed confidence. From his first jumping efforts, I was a bit skeptical whether he would ever enjoy it, but he certainly does now!
Some horses will take longer than others to be comfortable with what we ask of them; and some will just never take to it. Usually, fear/confusion can be overcome with confident riding and experience-- but a genuine dislike is harder to turn around. Many times, an unconfident horse just doesn't know what he can do...if the rider shows him "Yes, yes you can do it!" they often puff up and get proud of themselves, and try harder. Nurturing that confidence can develop trust and bravery.
A horse that requires a Confident Ride is ok for eventing, to me. A horse who requires a Perfect Ride, with no forgiveness for rider mistakes, is not a very fun event horse. A horse should enjoy its job enough that it can overlook an occasional mistake and still try to get to the other side.
“A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
? Albert Einstein
Every horse I have owned has been the type where you have to *really* ride it to every fence. I got a chance to ride a horse that just GOES and it gave me a chance to work on myself for once!
I think I could go either way honestly... but if I wanted an U/L prospect I'd probably look for one that was a drag-you-over-fences type
Eventers of the West
A Facebook group I created for Eventers in the West Region of the U.S. Remy - My OTTB Gelding! Love him to pieces!
WRT the time thing: The mare I had that didn't ever really take to jumping I had for over a year. I'm not the greatest rider in the world, or jump trainer, but I had done it before successfully. I took it slowly, we did plenty of other stuff (trekking, forest and beach riding once or twice a week), fox hunted her (with very inviting little fences to start). She very rarely stopped, and I only had to use the whip on the odd occasion, but I just never got a very enthusiastic feeling from her. I feel like she had a lot of time, I tried a few different instructors and we were consistently jumping 90cm-1m but it just wasn't her thing.
Such a shame as she had a gorgeous jump and was very athletic. She's cleaning up in her new home doing dressage and showing. And she was a lot of fun to have around.
My one regret was that I didn't pay someone super skilled and confident to get her going over fences for 2mths or so. Maybe with that start she would have learnt to be braver.