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Excerises for lazy u/s but hot jumper

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  • Excerises for lazy u/s but hot jumper

    Hey, long time lurker here but I've got a rather specific question that I figured I'd throw out.

    My OTTB gelding is a saint but a bit opinionated. When flatting, he's very light in the mouth and goes in a D ring happy mouth. I can ride him off my leg and seat only, rarely having to use the reins for anything other than a steady contact. He is lazy but I work on keeping him in front of my leg at all times and try to keep things interesting by doing lots of schooling figures, lateral work, transitions, etc. He's awesome to flat and does whatever I want, whenever I want it. (It should be known that I'm FAR more competent on the flat vs jumping. I am well aware that this is probably an issue dealing with ME, rather than him, at least to some degree.)

    When it comes to jumping, he gets pretty "up" and tunes me out. He's not nervous, just excited, super bold and, well, opinionated. I tend to just let him do his job and do my best to stay out of his way. We only jump up to 2'9 courses so it's not like we're doing anything huge but in order to be more competitive (and eventually move up!), I need to start being able to rate him a little better. Is there any exercises I can do to help get him to focus better on me when jumping? He HATES if I use too much rein and reacts by getting heavy in my hands, chomping on the bit, head flinging, opening his mouth and/or tail wringing. He'll throw in a few mini bucks if I've asked him to do something particularly horrifying. I've practiced adding and subtracting strides in a line, halting in a line, etc and while he does them after a few attempts, he doesn't like it and tends to make that very clear. He will turn, do roll backs, bending lines etc just fine. It's the speed/stride dictation that we have problems with. I make sure to try to use as little hand as possible (I do have soft hands) and keeping my leg on and using my body to ask for the adjustments. How can I get him to listen better the FIRST time I ask without totally pissing him off? Am I just not demanding enough from him? TIA!

    Teeth and saddle fit have been checked by professionals and he's 100% sound for jumping by vet.

  • #2
    Try setting up 3 planks (I like planks as they are visually more substanial but you can use rails too) 45 feet apart. Canter them in three and then work on cantering in four. Then mix it up doing 4 to 3 then 3 to 4 (the hardest). This exercise may not be pretty to begin with and could be down right ugly but it is effective. The easier version is to do in 47 but it is very much easier to get the 4 and seems to help get your horse to step right up to the three. I think for your issue the 45's are the best option.


    • #3
      Originally posted by purplepelhampony View Post
      ? He HATES if I use too much rein and reacts by getting heavy in my hands, chomping on the bit, head flinging, opening his mouth and/or tail wringing. He'll throw in a few mini bucks if I've asked him to do something particularly horrifying. How can I get him to listen better the FIRST time I ask without totally pissing him off? Am I just not demanding enough from him? TIA!
      LOL - piss him off.

      I bought my horse as an unbroke 3 yr old and worked with a trainer full time to get him undersaddle and going over tiny fences. Then he had some major health issues and was off for 2 years - during that time, I moved to a backyard barn to save some funds and decided when he was healthy, I could bring him back into shape and progress his training on my own.

      Yea...so that ended up with him being allowed to do pretty much whatever he wanted, especially over fences, because I wanted to be light...and gentle...with a nice big release...you know, because he is my baby and I LOVE him.

      Fast forward to now back working with a trainer - this horse has been allowed to jump his way and now is NOT happy about being asked to whoa...or rate...or add...he is bold, stubborn and opinionated about this. He shows his dislike by flinging his head up, grabbing bit and gunning.

      It has taken us nearly 2 years to get him to listen to us and just get over himself.

      The strategy is to just keep asking politely for what we want, ignore the crap/avoidance/his opinion, and give/reward generously when he gives in and finally does what we want.


      • #4
        I have a newish OTTB just like your gelding. Leg, leg, leg on the flat and whoa, whoa, whoa to the jumps. He's not terrible but a little too happy to do something more fun.

        We have started incorporating jumps into our flat work. At first I'd just threw in a crossrail here or there at the trot or canter and continue with our flat work like it never happened. If he through a tantrum or became fast, I'd just ride him out until he was bored with the flat work again. I wouldn't jump again until he was calm, cool, and collected.

        After 6 months of doing jumping and cavelettis at random times throughout the ride, he is now able to jump a course in a reasonable manner. He's still green but jumping is not "as exciting" or as much as a reward as before. It just part of his everyday job.

        Good luck with your guy. OTTB's are so much fun!


        • Original Poster

          Yea...so that ended up with him being allowed to do pretty much whatever he wanted, especially over fences, because I wanted to be light...and gentle...with a nice big release...you know, because he is my baby and I LOVE him.
          Haha. THIS. This is probably how I jump most of the time. Because he is a bit opinionated and sensitive and honestly, I don't mind staying out of his way and letting him do his job. I figure it's my job to get him to the fence, it's his job to jump it. And we have an agreement about that. I guess I'll just have to be a little bit tougher! I do try to ignore his temper tantrums and continue on with my ride as if it didn't happen. He just acts like it's the most horrible thing EVER that I've asked him to slow down or add a stride. It doesn't exactly make a good impression if we are carrying on like that in the hunter ring!

          Hunterlover, that's a good idea! I hadn't considering just popping over little jumps here and there on a regular basis to make it not as fun and exciting. It's very simple yet makes sense. Why didn't I think of that?? He's a very smart horse (possibly too smart!) but I think this will keep him on his toes a little bit more without making him get too up.
          Treasmare, I will try that. He usually will do similar exercises, by the third or fourth try, and he just makes faces and complains the entire time. I wonder if I do it more often? Like use poles on the ground and incorporate it into our regular work to add and subtract strides? I do work on lengthening and shortening his stride in all three gaits on the flat and we're fairly competent.

          And yes, I absolutely love my OTTB. They tend to be my favorite rides!


          • #6
            I agree with throwing in random jumps during your hacking, but also trotting lots of jumps. Try some cavaletti in front of an X or small vertical, because the poles should slow him down. Other exercises my trainer has us do to keep the horses listening:
            1) halt (gently) 4-5 strides after jumps several times in a row until your horse expects/anticipates the halt
            2) downward transitions in a line so you trot in and trot out
            3) halt (again, gently) 2-3 strides in front of your next jump. Your halt should still feel like you are moving forward instead of hauling backwards and you should be far enough away that you aren't "teaching" the horse to refuse

            If the jumps are only 2'6"-ish, my trainer always adds the stride when schooling, because he doesn't want the horses to learn to become flat and rush

            Good luck!
            Ride on!


            • #7
              Sounds like your guy needs to start walking some jumps! Yes. You did read right! This helps significantly with the ones that like to "tune out" or start rushing in excitement. It will also allow you to see if perhaps you're subconsciously adding to the issue by falling forward, picking, etc., as at the walk, it's much easier to consciously stay tall. Keep a nice, soft contact at first and just let him walk right up to it. This will dull it down for him, trust me.

              From there, I would go one of two ways, or maybe even a little bit of both depending on the specifics of your horse. Either starting to intersperse random single fences in the midst of flatwork (this works great for horses that anticipate or get edgy), or progress to gymnastics (great for those that tend to lose focus): bounces and/or 1-strides of at least 3-4 fences so that he really has to STAY focused on the immediate progression/line of jumps.. doesn't have x amount of strides to zone out as in a line. Another favorite of mine is 3 raised cavalletti to a ramp oxer with 1 raised cavalletti on the landing side. Trot in, close leg into hand on landing, sit deep and halt. Let this take his (and your) mind off the striding for a while until you're both more relaxed and comfortable, and then and only then would I move back to regular lines with a circle or halt in the middle. Re-evaluate.

              Lastly, I would like to suggest what I probably should have typed first -- going back to some lungework with him in a bridle, ideally with a surcingle & side-reins IF you have the know-how of their proper use. Regardless of what progress you make with all these other exercises, it's still not really addressing the root cause of the issue you're facing. It's just targeting the side-effects. A negative reaction to the rein/contact is not a good foundation for your relationship as horse & rider because as I'm sure you know, that's one of your key means of communication with him. He should be happy to take and receive the contact. Not fight it. By you going out of your way to accommodate his negative opinion of it, you're actually reinforcing his behavior, and no doubt he's actually trained YOU over time to use less and less hand, thereby only exacerbating the lack of focus issue and giving him more freedom with his excitement. You have the right idea by keeping your leg on, but he needs to learn to willingly come forward into the bridle, and happily accept that contact, find his balance in your hand so you can then successfully CONTAIN all that power and energy. Starting this from the ground will let him re-program & learn by himself first how to react to the steady contact that comes with a rider.

              Hope this helps you some! Feel free to PM me if you have any questions! Good luck with your guy!


              • #8
                You cannot shorten a stride without leg. Dressage lessons will help you, with a classically trained dressage instructor.

                Ride into your fences shoulder-fore or shoulder-in, he cannot run if the shoulder is displaced.


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks guys! I will definitely try these ideas out and let you know how it goes.

                  As for the lunging, yes I AM quite capable of lunging so don't worry. It's actually a pet peeve of mine people who lunge their horses to death all the time or, even worse, who lunge incorrectly. I will have to try that. I guess I always just figured he liked the light contact, as he does flat so well but maybe he truly hasn't accepted the bit. Hmm.. sure knows how to keep me guessing!

                  Losgelassenheit, I have walked jumps before and it doesn't do much for him. The minute you get back to trotting them, he reacts the same. And we do work with gymnastics, not regularly but maybe once a month or two? We do this mostly because while he NEVER hits rails (and tends to get angry at himself if he does! even with boots on for protection), he isn't the sharpest with his legs and the gymnastics help him pick his knees up better. But the last exercise you listed maybe help. I will let you know! Thanks.

                  As for the shoulder in idea, I'll give it a shot. He's quite smart so I'm worried about his anticipating this and starting to jump crooked and just swinging his shoulders/haunches one direction and running at the jumps sideways rather than listening to me. I do like to use the shoulder in on very well trained horses if I need to add strides though. (I had an instructor when I was younger that made me get 7 strides over poles in a long 4 stride, short 5 line! Eek! But I was riding a very well broke, very talented guy and a little bit of shoulder fore and a super collected canter was how I got it done in the end) It definitely works I did strictly dressage with qualified professionals for 3 or 4 years and am back into jumping for the past year or two. That's why I noted that I'm far better at flatting than jumping. But I'll give it a try! Thanks again