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Jumping the Very Excited Jumper

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  • Jumping the Very Excited Jumper

    Before I begin, this is not a what bit should I use thread. I'm looking for exercises/ideas.

    My current boy is a forward 12 yo TB. He's done up to the 3'6 jumpers (had some bad experiences with people who didn't really know what they were doing, and I expect that most of his issues come from that) and competed in eventing up to Training. He is a dream out on XC, awesome in dressage and a bit of a mess in stadium.

    He has a bit of a winter/summer horse syndrome kind of thing, he is much hotter in the colder months but not unmanageable. Regardless, when we do any kind of jumping, even poles, he gets very, very, very excited. He rushes fences pretty badly, and locks onto fences and bolts the last stride. Interestingly enough, I can count on one hand the number of times he's stopped at a fence with me in a year and a half. He also finds a very good spot 99% of the time on his own, even if he rushes.

    He backs off the higher the fences, but I can't canter him around a course because he gets too forward and I can't stop him. Trotting fences is more manageable, and I can get around a course by cantering before/after fences and trotting the turns, but obviously I'm going to have to be able to canter a course sooner or later.

    I jumped him in a Pelham for a while but after recently trying him in a dee ring snaffle, he is much happier. He did well with a running martingale with the snaffle over the summer and I've jumped him a bit in a standing martingale recently and that's been successful, too. He also has a custom saddle and regular chiro appointments. While I wouldn't doubt that some of his rushing issues come from previous experience with pain, he's feeling better than ever now (maybe even too good at times!).

    Anyway, I'd be glad to hear any sort of exercise, things to try as far as my riding goes, different bits that may make a difference, whatever. I am working with a trainer who's been fabulous, and we've made a lot of progress, but I figure it wouldn't hurt to ask here.

  • #2
    I would start with jumping on a circle, with one jump. Put him on a canter circle and actually jump the jump every 3rd or 4th time around, or when he is balanced and cantering properly. So when you do jump, he doesn't have "time" to get frazzled as he only knows he is going to actually jump a couple of strides out from the jump. As he gets balanced and steady through this exercise, add a jump on the other side of the circle. It should be at least 20 meters and you can add a third and fourth jump, if/when he is ready.

    Also, try lots of canter poles, leading up to gymnastics. He will probably get hot over the poles at first, but repetition and circling, should become boring. Try very hard to NOT change your own position, leg, hand, up to the jump, and try to stay out of the saddle and relaxed. IOW, you should not do any changing as you approach the jump. Think of the jump as just another canter stride, with your focus being entirely on the quality of the canter and the jump being an "after thought."

    Work on transitions and circling constantly while jumping. Do not jump on a straight line until he moves comfortable on the circling exercise.

    I have other exercises but I would start with the poles on the ground and the jumping on a circle first.


    • #3
      circles circles circles

      Besides jumping on a circle (I often put them on a 15-20 meter circle and just kept jumping until they got into a rhythm). Use lots of circles while jumping your course. So you jump a fence, circle until you have re-established the canter and then take your next fence.

      Good luck...sounds like you have so re-schooling to do.
      ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


      • #4
        Are you getting too far forward the couple strides before the fence in anticipation of his jolt forward? Try to focus on riding him to the base of the jump. Not driving, just quietly sitting to the base.

        Try setting up a grid like the one in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=78pmJuXwMws

        Trot in with lots of ground lines and distances on the slightly short side. Focus on staying back with your body and woahing. Make sure you're upper body stays as still as possible with no exaggerated movements. This will make him think about where he is putting his legs and not just launching himself forward over the jumps.

        Also, think about improving your dressage with him. Working on getting some really good half-halts will help immensely. Doing a downward transition to walk from the trot, walking a step or two and then pushing back up into a working trot is an effective exercise for that. Working on strengthening his behind too might also help him with keeping a comfortable canter to the base of a jump. Lots of counter-canter starting with simple counter-flexsion, then counter-canter and eventually counter-flexsion in the counter canter. From here you can do lengthening and shortenings in the counter canter. He won't like it very much but tough cookies.

        As for equipment, ride him in whatever feels most comfortable on the flat.

        Best of luck!


        • Original Poster

          Thank you so much! My trainer actually set up the circle exercise in my lesson and it was really beneficial, so I'll definitely continue it. I like the point about not changing my position, that's definitely something I have to keep in mind.


          • #6
            Originally posted by hightide View Post
            Thank you so much! My trainer actually set up the circle exercise in my lesson and it was really beneficial, so I'll definitely continue it. I like the point about not changing my position, that's definitely something I have to keep in mind.
            NOt changing position on an "anticipating" horse has been key for me. Wofford pretty much cured me of that, and the result in the way my horses approach jumps improved dramatically. As part of working to not change position, counting each stride before the jump can help. So if you put him on a circle with one jump, just keep counting out loud as you approach and land, working to have a steady tempo. Wofford swears that he has worked with Olympians who still counted strides in order to maintain position and not inadvertently launch with a hot horse.


            • #7
              I think sometimes the rushing is due to being anxious, not excited. Especially since you said he maybe didn't have the best riders in the past. One thing I've really had to focus on with my horse who has/had some similar tendencies (partially due to her old owner, and partially due to me not being super experienced when I bought her) is to just ride her really forward to the fences. Its hard with a rusher/bolter to think about pushing them on a slightly more forward canter when all you're trying to do is get them to whoa but it really does help! The hotter/sensitive ones especially seem to just really have to trust that you won't take away before the fences and then they start to calm down and actually listen.

              Anyway, this might not be your situation but its something to try


              • #8
                Popping over from jumperland because I absolutely love exercises for hot jumpers!

                My current favorite is three poles on the ground, set in a four to a four or something like that (the one set up at home now is a five to a four, or vice versa depending on what direction you come from). Since they're poles, there is no need whatsoever to find anything. Just focus on the canter you want and count your rhythm. It sounds remedial and torturous but it really does work. Once you "get good" with the poles, build them to tiny X-rails or use small cavalleto.

                A slightly modified version we've also been using is essentially the same thing but set on a bend down the long side. The first pole is angled a bit toward the rail, the middle pole is straight, and the last pole is angled the opposite way from the first pole. You should end up with a very shallow U shape. The point of the exercise is to focus on keeping a quiet rhythm like with the first exercise, but adding the extra challenge of it being a weird sort of bending line. If you don't keep your rhythm through it, it will be messy, but it's still poles on the ground, so not scary. Just not pretty.

                If you can, you might also try adding trot and canter poles in weird patterns into your flat work. Walk over them a lot first, just to make sure that Dobbin knows they're NBD.

                Good luck! Have fun with your guy, he sounds like a blast.
                Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by hightide View Post
                  He rushes fences pretty badly, and locks onto fences and bolts the last stride.

                  ...I jumped him in a Pelham for a while but after recently trying him in a dee ring snaffle, he is much happier.
                  Rushing in general--even more so that you've discovered he's happier in a milder bit--is so often caused by horse who is pulled on or expects to be pulled on. It is very, very hard for a rider, once the horse starts rushing to keep their hands down, still and not pull back. I like to ride a horse like this in a neck strap and a few strides before the fence stick a finger in it so that if the horse makes a move to pull I don't allow myself to respond to it.

                  Gymnastics where YOU understand that it is NOT your job to make adjustments are really great for beginning to build back the horse's trust that you REALLY are not going to respond to him by pulling. I like to say one of you needs to be the adult and stop pulling first--and it's not going to be the horse.

                  I rode a friend's horse yesterday who can get rushy. We started off with 4 or 5 poles at about 9 or 10 feet--canter poles. The first couple of times through he made a head fake like he was going to rush, but as soon as he found out I wouldn't respond it was like he took a deep breath and said, "oh...ok then."

                  Try the canter poles. Expect him to rush the first few times and make a mess of them. Just keep riding the rhythm and staying soft. Don't change your contact even as poles start rolling around and see if you can get him to do a better job keeping the rhythm by himself after a few times through. If so, that's a pretty good indicator as to how you can improve over jumps. Once he's doing the poles put a cross rail at the end of it.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by subk View Post
                    I like to ride a horse like this in a neck strap and a few strides before the fence stick a finger in it so that if the horse makes a move to pull I don't allow myself to respond to it.
                    This is exactly what my trainer had me do. In addition, she had me stroke his neck as we came into fences. We took lots of breaks where he walks on a long rein and the I will occasionally take him over a fence from the walk.

                    My horse is now fine over poles but he used get worked up over them, too. Repetition and making it boring helped him stop worrying and rushing. Keeping my body back and staying out of his face helped too .
                    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                    EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                    • #11
                      I use what I call, "Blue in the face" exercises. I think they are Ann Kursinski's.

                      Two small fences 6 or so strides apart. Trot the first fence, halt in the middle, trot the second fence, halt, rein back. Do this until it is easy.

                      Trot the first fence, walk, trot the second fence, halt, rein back if needed.

                      Trot the first fence, trot the second fence, halt.

                      Canter the first fence, trot the second fence, walk.

                      Repeat as necessary.

                      This is a basic exercises. I think every horse should be able to do this.

                      You might try multiple placing rails--four or more in front of you fence--12 feet apart and one or two after the jump as well. I did this the other day with one of mine who had not jumped in two weeks and was VERY silly! Worked pretty well!

                      Let us know what works for you!


                      • Original Poster

                        Thank you all! I rode him today with the circle exercise and was actually able to canter all four poles in a circle, after I really focused on keeping my hands soft and my body relaxed. He was much better!

                        I can't wait to try out the rest of these exercises.


                        • #13
                          At 12 years old, I'd see if he's having calcium deposits, mild arthritic changes etc. There has to be a reason why he's better in summer than winter. He's obviously not a mare and going into season, and he can't just be feeling fresh daily.

                          I would see what a flexion test says.

                          (BTW, this just happened to me with my friend's 12yo tb, so I could just be projecting my experience)


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by AzuWish View Post
                            At 12 years old, I'd see if he's having calcium deposits, mild arthritic changes etc. There has to be a reason why he's better in summer than winter. He's obviously not a mare and going into season, and he can't just be feeling fresh daily.

                            I would see what a flexion test says.

                            (BTW, this just happened to me with my friend's 12yo tb, so I could just be projecting my experience)
                            He's been checked by a vet and chiro and all came out well. It gets cold and snowy here in the winter, below freezing from December until March or so, so it's cold enough to make everyone in the barn frisky. Turnout is also a bit limited in the winter, and he's at a different barn. He's feeling great, it's cold and he's a TB.


                            • #15
                              Lunging over jumps

                              My guy is very similar to this, very rushy to fences. We're still working on it but its much improved. I did a lot of lunging over poles and small jumps. It really seemed to boost his confidence and he could figure out his distance without me interfering. When he was calm with these exercises my trainer lunged me on him over poles and small jumps until he figured out it was nbd. Then we moved on to riding over jumps in a circle and it's made a big difference.


                              • #16
                                I didn't read everything everyone said (sorta busy), so excuse me if I repeat stuff but this is my take on it.

                                One of the key things I learned at a recent working student job was that the slower you ask a horse to go, the faster and more worried they will get. So in some cases you are actually more likely to get taken off with after a trot fence than a canter fence because the horse is overcompensating.

                                So when a horse rushes do not do anything as you come to the fence. Trying to slow him down will make it worse. Set up exercises that force him to think about his feet and where he is going. Combinations (bounce to one or two stride or sets of two strides or really anything) all set slightly (really slightly) short so he has to think about compressing himself on his own and you can just keep him straight. Anything to make him think about his feet and let you just stay out of the way. Four strides out go into 2-point if it is a trot exercise especially so that you aren't interfering in any way.

                                When you jump single fences try and always be turning, always have him looking for a fence, avoid long approaches and make sure you are guiding him over and away quickly. Keep his mind elsewhere, thinking, so that it isn't just the mad rush for the fence. An exercise I saw work quite well with an especially hot sensitive mare was taking a single fence and truly doing a figure-8 over it. Not true straight lines, just a constant curve that happens have have a jump there. It kept the mare looking for the fence rather than panicking about what to do when she got there.
                                "I'm too sexy for my blanket, too sexy for my blanket, these mares-they should take it..." (J-Lu) - Featuring The Skypizzle Pony aka Classic Skyline


                                • #17
                                  Several posters have touched upon what I want to say, which is that "rushers" are often anxious and anticipating some sort of undesirable input from their riders- pulling, dropping, etc. Some key points to think about that may be lacking in your jumping:

                                  - Balance. If your horse tends to lean on your hands and get heavy, especially over fences, chances are he is unbalanced and using you as a support. Can you trot and canter him around on a loopy rein and maintain your tempo without him rushing or getting tense? If not, you are allowing him to use you to hold himself up. Help him learn how to carry himself, which will help keep his rhythm steady while jumping.

                                  - Impulsion. Many rushers trick you into riding off your hands, with very little leg, which tends to lead to a forehand-heavy horse that feels out of control. Whether you are trotting or cantering, he should be in front of the leg with his hocks underneath him, not leaning on the forehand and accelerating. He needs to be in front of the leg and balanced before you can half-halt, which is important in maintaining control on-course! In a well-balanced, impulsive canter, you should be able to canter large and transition to a 10m circle with him turning easily off the outside aids and not losing his balance in the turn. If he is properly balanced in the canter and your leg is on, he will have a hard time diving in that last stride over the jump. Many people underestimate how much leg hot horses require, and the power your leg has to slow the horse!

                                  - Confidence. Many rushers I have ridden have been anxious and nervous about jumping (some honest, like yours sounds to be, some not). Letting him pick his own way through grids will help teach him a little about consequences while building his own confidence. Placing rails might help him back off and pay attention. Some of the suggestions in this thread, like angling fences, might trick him into focusing a little less on the jump, which may help mellow him out. Don't be afraid to let him mess up a little- the goal is to have him settle down and listen to you, not for you to control a permanent urge to rush. He can make his mistakes over smaller fences, and as long as you keep your leg on and don't pull (yes, it feels awful, but it tends to not take very long) I'd bet he quickly slows down and starts looking to you for some more input.

                                  Best of luck to you!