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Jumping Lesson - Is this Normal?

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  • Jumping Lesson - Is this Normal?

    This is a question for people who know about jumper instructors and the jumper world. I ride in a different discipline, so this was bizarre to me.

    We have a green 6 year old horse that my friend has been working with. They have started jumping and she has got him jumping nicely at around 18" . We're thrilled - he is very green. She is an experienced and lovely rider, but hasn't done tons of jumping. We met a jumping teacher whom we liked so we scheduled a lesson and trailered over.

    When we got there we found out that we would be working with a different instructor, a big time jumper olympian/rider/trainer from Columbia who does jumper clinics. Sounded good to us.

    He had a little grid set up with raised cavaleties and a 2'6" oxer at the end. He said he just wanted to see what the horse would do. The horse is basically a lazy kickalong, neither brave nor athletic. The horse refused to even go over the raised cavaletti.

    He lowered the caveletties + jump and had her ride the horse more forward with some whip taps until he went over everything. Then he kept having her ride thru the grid, raising the jump at the end each time she went through. Eventually the oxer got raised to 3' !! The horse went thru fine by the end, although there were some very ugly moments in the middle.

    But I was in shock, how can you take a green horse and go from 18" to 3' ?? But wait, there's more....

    Then he had her jump a line of 3 jumps, including a wall and a 2'9" oxer. I thought he wouldn't & couldn't jump those jumps, but the instructor kept reassuring me that the horse was capable and needed to learn. The horse had never seen a solid wall (maybe 2'3" x 1' wide ?) and kept refusing, never making it to the big 2'9" oxer.

    Then the instructor got on him in order to school him over the line becuz my friend was too timid to be super aggressive. (the horse does get away with being lazy, so I know you have to make your point about FORWARD sometimes). The guy smacked him a bunch to get him really forward and then got the horse over the first fence in the line, but went over his neck when the horse stopped at the wall. (oh yeah the instructor didn't want to wear a helmet, maybe this is just a cultural difference ? I was pretty freaked out about him riding the horse w/o a helmet, but maybe Columbians ride differently? )

    He kept smacking him forward till he went over the whole line. I could hardly believe my eyes. Then he had my friend get back on the horse and do it. The horse then jumped the whole line very nicely.

    So, I was kind of in shock. Is this the Columbian style of teaching? Is this guy phenomenal? or reckless? I don't know enough about jumpers to know. I've never seen a jumping lesson like this. I don't think he was abusive to the horse, but definitely didn't pamper the guy. The horse did jump fine at the end, and the guy even was doing flying lead changes on him?!?!?! I thought flying-lead changes were a big deal to teach, but by the end he would just give the horse a smack and voila! the horse would change his lead?.?.?

    Is this normal ?

  • #2
    Originally posted by ytr45 View Post
    Is this normal ?
    Columbia Missouri or Columbia SA?

    Sounds like a productive clinic session to me but, then again, I don't think 18" is "jumping" or that horses have to be babied through learning lead changes since they are born knowing them.

    I think this person pushed your friend and that horse to get better and...horrors, they got better. What a shame
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

    Comment


    • #3
      IMHO - run away and never go back. Sure it's the way I'd run a lesson for a green bean that was coming to my barn for the first time.

      Sounds like there were some good parts in the end, but he got pretty severe to get there. Sure, a smack occassionally might be necessary - but not over and over. You don't want your horse being "scared" into jumping. There's a reason we say "baby steps."

      Honestly, I'd never let a rider get on my horse without a helmet - ever. Sure, there are plenty of trainers out there that ride sans brain-bucket, but I am not going to be liable for their choice on my horse. Sure glad he didn't get hurt (and didn't hurt your horse!) when he got tossed over the wall. You make that call. If the trainer won't put a helmet on, it's not worth paying them if you are uncomfortable with it.

      Obviously, I don't know your hose at all, but seems like that was way too much for the first time for your horse. Sure, "testing" the horse a little is natural - to see scope/potential - but not if the horse is showing signs of worry (stopping, backing off, etc). Grids can be great - but usually you'd build it - start with the cavaelli and no jump at the end, build it up, and the raise it.

      Next time, stop the lesson BEFORE it gets that far. You are the owner, it's your money, and you make the call. Sadly, you may have to work hard to reverse some of that & rebuilt the horse's confidence. Hopefully, it's a horse with a good mind, who will get home and be OK. Go way back to the beginning right away - poles and build up to 18" on the first ride, then build slowly from there.

      I'd suggest next time you go see the trainer ride before you take your horse - even ask to see them at a time they are working with a green horse.

      Oh, and I've been POd if I showed up to lesson with one trainer, and got someone else instead (only exception being if I knew both trainers equally and would have happily worked with either when I signed up for the lesson).

      Sorry you had such a crappy experience.

      Comment


      • #4
        Jumping 3' on a green 6 year old is very reasonable. Personally I dislike starting a horse over teeny tiny speed bumps. A real, solid jump will teach the horse to actually use itself rather than develop sloppy style over itty bitty jumps. And for lead changes- most horses will start getting them if they are forward and balanced and usually isn't a huge deal.

        I can't comment on the aggressive riding since I wasn't there to see it but the size of the jumps and lead changes are completely within reason.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Thanks. Just to clarify, I didn't say it was a crappy experience. I said it was bizarre. Coming from a different discipline and not knowing anything of the cultural differences either, I didn't know if it was phenomenal or reckless.

          Also to clarify - I didn't mean to indicate the guy was riding overly aggressive, maybe "necessarily assertive and fearless" are better descriptions.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by ytr45 View Post
            Thanks. Just to clarify, I didn't say it was a crappy experience. I said it was bizarre. Coming from a different discipline and not knowing anything of the cultural differences either, I didn't know if it was phenomenal or reckless.

            Also to clarify - I didn't mean to indicate the guy was riding overly aggressive, maybe "necessarily assertive and fearless" are better descriptions.
            Oh, got it. The way I read it, it sounded like he was sticking the horse constantly and you sounded really uncomfortable with the situation. Gut reaction is important. Sound schooling shouldn't make you feel like "something might be wrong here..."

            Still, not the way I'd work with the horse the first time, but that's just me. If the horse is refusing, I'd want to address that before I was raising the jumps.

            I definitely agree with other folks that going bigger isn't the issue - if the horse is calm and well-balanced, then raising the height a bit can help built impression and get them using themselves much better than falling over a tiny xrail.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by MR View Post
              If the horse is refusing, I'd want to address that before I was raising the jumps.

              I definitely agree with other folks that going bigger isn't the issue - if the horse is calm and well-balanced, then raising the height a bit can help built impression and get them using themselves much better than falling over a tiny xrail.
              Yes. You want to set up horses (especially green ones) for success, not put them in a place where they are "practicing" refusals. Horses can develop confidence issues just like people - if a green horse is refusing repeatedly, it is probably being overfaced.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by ytr45 View Post
                Also to clarify - I didn't mean to indicate the guy was riding overly aggressive, maybe "necessarily assertive and fearless" are better descriptions.
                Like in "experienced professional"?

                I was not there but, to me, a 6 year old can do all these things and should do all these things under a good rider. I did not read it was dead green and had never cantered crossrail. 3' is not the moon and is, in fact, a starting place for many trainers with a 6 year old well, broke on the flat.

                I cannot comment on anything else as all this is filtered through OPs admittedly inexperienced eyes. I am experienced but I was not there.

                Does not sound like anything bad happened. Sounds like it WAS set up for success because this horse and rider had some setbacks they overcame and were, ultimately, successful and did more then they ever had before. Sounds like a session with a profssional who gets riders to enlarge their envelope and advance their horses.
                When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Agree here too that the height and course and also lead changes sound within the realm of 'normal' to me also. 3' is 'not much', especially with a horse who is introduced to jumping and is doing well at 18'', and the flying changes can certainly be done within a session if the horse is properly prepared otherwise.

                  My only worry would be with how it was all introduced, which we can't truly know without having been there There is a difference between aggressiveness and assertiveness, and setting the horse up for success but challenging it and possibly over-facing or over-challenging it. I've never been an advocate for punishing a horse for a refusal - as Greg Best says, it's healthy for a horse to stop and refuse. You take it for what it is, likely change something (either for the horse or in your ride and approach), and try again. BUT, I wasn't there so don't feel comfortable commenting beyond that
                  ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
                  ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Well if you had video I would be able to better say if it's normal... but I don't think 3' is high for a 6 year old.... and something I noticed when around jumper riders (expecially when they jump over 1.30 meters) 3' is nothing to them. And probably think a horse that is 6 should be well on his way.

                    It sounds like you need to go someplace else because you don't sound comfortable working at that pace. Regardless if it was normal or not, you have to find a program "you" are comfortable in and it doesn't sound like you were.....
                    Live in the sunshine.
                    Swim in the sea.
                    Drink the wild air.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by findeight View Post
                      Like in "experienced professional"?

                      I was not there but, to me, a 6 year old can do all these things and should do all these things under a good rider. I did not read it was dead green and had never cantered crossrail. 3' is not the moon and is, in fact, a starting place for many trainers with a 6 year old well, broke on the flat.
                      Uh, maybe not for a sporthorse or bred for hunters horse. but your for your average green, "lazy kickalong, neither brave nor athletic" horse, 3' IS a big deal. Overfacing a not brave horse is NOT 'pushing the envelope' it is setting the horse up for failure. The stops don't sound nasty, they sound more like the horses way of saying it is uncomfortable and nervous. A good trainer wouldn't force the horse, they would work to build the horse's confidence *before* rasing the jumps.

                      I would not move a not particulary athletic horse straight to 3' anymore than I'd jump an athletic horse over 4' right away. Just because physically they CAN do it, doesn't mean they have the confidence to get anything from the session but 'jumping is scary, jumping gets me smacked, I don't like jumping" OP, I would suggst finding a trainer who will help build your horses confidence instead of pushing it to the point it stops.
                      .

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ytr45 View Post
                        ...We met a jumping teacher whom we liked so we scheduled a lesson and trailered over.

                        When we got there we found out that we would be working with a different instructor, a big time jumper olympian/rider/trainer from Columbia who does jumper clinics. Sounded good to us.
                        OK, hate to say it but the old read for content banner is over this one. It is NOT their regular trainer. It is NOT the trainer they thought they would work with. It IS a clincian with International experience and training (unless it is Columbia Missouri that claims him).

                        Got them over 3' with lead changes, no bleeding, no welts and they never have to work with him again.

                        So he problem here is they want to stay at 18" and simple change for another 2 years? Or ?????
                        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          What did you think would happen when your friend agreed to lesson/clinic with an international level jumper rider? Did your friend discuss goals, experience, etc. with BNT?

                          I guess I don't find it bizarre at all. A really good rider/trainer can take a horse very far, very fast with no baggage. That's why they are that good.

                          I'd be interested in the next lesson report, to see if the horse is still happy going to a jump...should be, unless your friend is not able to replicate the more forward ride. Sounds like your friend is not at the level of the BNT's usual clinic/lesson participants.
                          Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            It is unclear to me whether you trailered over for a training session for the horse (what you seemed to have gotten) or a "lesson", which I think of as a training session for the rider on how to ride/train the horse for the next x amount of time to get y goals (which seems to me to have been lacking). The latter would have involved more discussion of where you were and where you wanted to go, how you ride and how horse responds, etc. Also with the latter it seems odd for me you got a surprise clinician instead of your appointed instructor.

                            You seemed to get someone whose goal was to show you what he thought your horse could do & how he would do it. If that's what you were paying for, then it sounds within the scope.

                            I wouldn't say that you should expect this same thing normally every time you trailer for a lesson, however. It seems a bit abrupt and cookie-cutter for a standard first session, to me.

                            BTW, The idea that he didn't wear a helmet would make me not go back, no matter who he's training--not enough brains there to protect, it is not enough brains for me to pay for a session.
                            At all times, we are either training or untraining.
                            Flying Haflinger blog: http://flyinghaflinger.blogspot.com/ Flying Irish Draught blog: http://flyingirishredhead.blogspot.com/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I think it all sounds fine. The horse was refusing to step over a cavaletti in the beginning so I think the "smacking" him over the fences is probably what he needed as he doesn't sound scared, just naughty and lazy. The fact he did jump the line nicely once he realized he had to go shows he isn't overfaced....an overfaced nervous horse would have gotten quick and been overjumping, etc. Sounds like he just stopped at the fences like he stopped at the cavaletti and then learned a lesson that he needs to go over what's in front of him.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Most professionals I've worked with do not wear helmets at home, so that's not a cultural difference.You aren't going to find too many who will put on a hat for your benefit if they don't normally wear one.
                                Otherwise, hard to say without seeing what happened, progressing heights in a grid is standard procedure, it doesn't mean that the horse now jumps 3' outside of a grid, that's just how you introduce height. And then, any horse is capable of getting over a 2'3" wall, from day one of jumping, and if your friend couldn't get the horse to do that then it was very important for the professional to get on and make sure it got done. He fixed the issue for your friend, and hopefully she will now be able to progress.
                                But if you think the horse isn't athletic and can't jump 2'9", why on earth spend any time or money on it?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Big_Grey_hunter View Post
                                  Uh, maybe not for a sporthorse or bred for hunters horse. but your for your average green, "lazy kickalong, neither brave nor athletic" horse, 3' IS a big deal. Overfacing a not brave horse is NOT 'pushing the envelope' it is setting the horse up for failure. The stops don't sound nasty, they sound more like the horses way of saying it is uncomfortable and nervous. I would not move a not particulary athletic horse straight to 3' anymore than I'd jump an athletic horse over 4' right away.
                                  This. I totally agree.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I'm going to say that this was probably actually not completely out of line. I agree with the poster above who dislikes starting horses over "speed bumps." I definitely believe in intensely solid basics, flat work, etc. However, I think that once a horse is ready, and I mean really ready, to jump then they should be JUMPING. A horse only has so many jumps in them, and you might as well make them worthwhile. Actually, 18" fences can be detrimental to style after a while. I doubt Sapphire has ever seen a 18" "jump" (okay, she's worked over cavalettis...becasue 18" is still a cavaletti and should be treated as such).
                                    If the horse wasn't ready to jump, don't take them for a jumping lesson. I think these were things that stuck out to you because you are unfamiliar with the way in which jumpers, real jumpers, are trained. I could be totally off base, and this could, in fact, be a situation that you should have responded to negatively. If this was truly horrible, don't take my post to say that all jumpers are like this. I would just say that you shouldn't go into this thinking "omg, I need to fix this now." In fact, it was probably good for the horse, provided that your friend can continue the upward trend. I would suggest more frequent jumping lessons going forwards if this is truly the area that you are heading with this horse.
                                    “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman
                                    (}---{)

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by trabern View Post
                                      BTW, The idea that he didn't wear a helmet would make me not go back, no matter who he's training--not enough brains there to protect, it is not enough brains for me to pay for a session.
                                      Ummm...assuming it is Colombia SA and not Columbia Missouri? This person grew up without such a requirement and his country does not have such a requirement. Only when competing FEI.

                                      So if he helped the horse to it's best ever and the friend/rider to her best ever? Lack of a helmet not required by his country or his culture or his current employer disqualifies him from further instruction or teaching you anything???

                                      We are NOT the center of the equine universe and, as horsemen, need to learn whatever we can from whoever offers it wherever it is offered without passing judgement.

                                      Just have them sign a waiver. But if they can help me and my horse? I could care less if they ride upside down in pajamas and a bunny hat-I need them to help me.

                                      Sound like this friend is waaaay ahead of where she was coming in to this session.

                                      I thought that was the point of the whole thing. Getting better with no harm. But I am old school so...whatever.
                                      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        How has the horse been going since this schooling session?
                                        Barn rat for life

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