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Does how well a horse free jump relate to how well they will jump under saddle?

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  • Does how well a horse free jump relate to how well they will jump under saddle?

    Looking for a new horse. Found one that is "my ride". BIG (17.2),good + mover in steel shoes. Just really started over fences. Free jumps great over BIG jumps. My goal in a perfect workd would be the a/o's.

    I just watched his video. He is only jumping small plain jumps, (rails no filler maybe 2'6"). He doesn't jump bad but not wow.

    He is six. I know the owner well so I know his history. (she has owned him since he was six months old) They took it slow because he is BIG and he was super easy. They event but he doesn't have the motor to be event at the level she wants to so she is selling him.

    The free jumping videos are great. I realize he has to be able to put it all together but riding him, he is defiantly my ride. He has the perfect rhythm to find the jumps.

    Ok so my question is if he free jumps great, has plenty of step should that translate to being able to jump as well under saddle?
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  • #2
    No. But freejumping big jumps while only being asked to jump 2'6" boring plain jumps with no fill undersaddle (Why? This would be my red flag. Find out where they hid the fill when they knew you were coming.), that relates to jumping "eh" under tack. What you can tell from the freejumping is exactly what you've written here: he has a big step and some scope. What you cannot guarantee is that he will have the same style and same amount of scope in a real setting. A good rhythm and big step is a good start. But jump him over a flowerbox before you buy him and hunt around for the hidden real jumps. It wouldn't be the first time someone hid the rolltop in the trailer when customers were coming.

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    • #3
      Some very excellent jumpers jump so-so over smaller stuff and don't show their style and scope until the fences go up. What exactly is the horse doing that is "eh"?

      I agree that a horse that jumps impressively in a chute may or may not have the other ingredients that are necessary for being a good jumper in the show ring, but hey, it doesn't hurt.

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      • #4
        I think it can show *some* natural inclination but I don't think it should be an absolute deciding factor on whether or not a horse will be a good jumping horse

        Comment


        • #5
          Should a talented horse jump great over 2'9"? Or should it look bored?

          I bought a bay mare that free jumped amazing first time through the chute. Took a LONG time before she stopped crashing into jumps with a rider. Managed to do the 4'6" though.

          My grey mare free jumps awesome, but dislikes jumping with a rider and didn't make it past 1.10 meters. Her mom free jumped artistically, but was great with a rider.

          On the flip side, my former trainer's horse free jumped horridly, but was great with a rider once the jumps got to be a decent size (2'9" bored him).

          So, based on my experience, free jumping doesn't always tell all there is to tell, it is mostly just a good way to sell a horse. Do you think they would be willing to ride him down an easy line with the second jump bumped up a bit to see what he does?
          Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

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          • #6
            When you buy babies, you have to rely on the free jump and blood line, so the baby buyers among us would say, absolutely. It's not just the jump, it's the way they canter up to it and away from it as well.

            But this 6 year old has already been messed with and developed, and it may well be that they jumped it around so many small boring jumps that they ruined its form. Do what CBoylen said, try to find a stout 3' solid to jump him over. This is a big 6 year old for goodness sake, and you need to see what his reaction is. If he stops, don't buy him. If he jumps it okay, don't buy him. If he takes a peek and jumps like snot, call the vet.
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            • #7
              When I asked a coach about whether we should watch my boy free jump, she replied "Horses in the wild can jump. He can jump. It doesnt tell us anything because he won't have a rider".

              I also think that a lot of his natural ability will come through if the rider isnt too far forward.
              "I am still under the impression there is nothing alive quite so beautiful
              as a thoroughbred horse."

              -JOHN GALSWORTHY

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              • #8
                In my experience, free jumping can give you a lot of hints about the horses' strengths and weaknesses both in technique as well as attitude.

                We tend to free jump all of our youngsters at least twice before they begin their careers under saddle. First as yearlings and then again at 2.5 or 3.

                As we have seen them mature and go onto their careers undersaddle, we have found that their strengths and weaknesses have not deviated much from what we saw of them through the chute as youngsters.

                When we free jump our youngsters we have a chart and take notes on: scope, front end technique, bascule, attitude (did they go straight through eagerly? Did they rush? Did they try every way possible not to jump through the chute? Hind end (were they confidence enough to open up in the haunches?

                Here are a few examples:

                Ahsianita (video taken as a three year old)

                My notes after free jumping her was as follows:
                Strengths: quick front end, naturally careful, good opening of hind end, excellent attitude to "attack" the fences

                Weaknesses: power/scope for the wider fences

                Video taken in December of this year as a coming 7 year old (she was on maternity leave for 2 years).

                Taking into consideration that as she tires, she jumps more flat, I would still say that her strengths with regards to her quick front end, good use of back over the fences and carefulness hold true. Her weakness of scope and power will be tested as she goes up the levels.

                Photos competing in the 1.15m at HITS I last weekend

                Zorriola photo free jumping as a 3 year old (unfortunately I don't have any videos)
                Strengths: Power, attitude (paced herself well and went through each time without problems.

                Weaknesses: front end technique (open), quickness

                Video of jumping as a four year old

                Photo of her as a 5 year old in the YHJ Jumpers. As you can see, the power is there, but the front end is still quite open.

                Video as a 6 year old
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                • #9
                  thanks mccarver for sharing. that was interesting!

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                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Thanks for the input. I watched the videos of me and the videos is te event rider. Over the small plain stuff he jumps fine, no knee hanging or awkward. From watching them again I think he is just big and unphased so it's more or a canter over than a jump.

                    As big comfortable and quiet as he is, he is worth a second look off their farm somewhere with hunter jumps.

                    I will update after that.
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                    • #11
                      I would be wary of the jumping blah over the little plain jumps. In my experience, a good jumper is a good jumper. No horse is brilliant over 2'9, but it should still be obvious he is talented. I have used free jumping to buy ponies overseas that were not yet broke and could weed out the good jumpers from the bad. But most of the good free jumpers got BETTER under tack (in terms of form, not talking scope as dealing with pony hunters) and all my good ponies look good trotting a cross rail. It's easy to seem scopey free jumping as all horses can jump rather high without a rider, but I would 100% go off ridden form now that you have seen it and if that's not impressive, move on!

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                      • #12
                        In my experience, it hasn't said too much about different horses' abilities. We regularly do free jumping days at our barn, particularly in the winter when we're all a bit tired of going round and round the indoor, so I've been able to look at a lot of different horses lately.

                        My older TB mare is the keenest jumper I've ever ridden. She is scopey and careful and a real back cracker. This is all totally obvious when she free jumps -- I don't have to put her through the chute or guide her at all. She comes in the arena, sees the set up, and canters off. However, she is actually a bit too enthusiastic, and will take long spots more often free jumping than when she has me asking her to maintain a more consistent rhythm.

                        The green TB I am bringing along is polar opposite of the older girl in personality -- she is laid back and much more of a "push" ride. When we free jump her, she very, very casually trots over the fences -- even when they're set at 3' (she's 16.3 or 17.h) and she doesn't look like a super talented jumper. Under saddle, however, when I put her to fences at a nice forward canter, her form is much better --and she's actually a much more 'rate-able' ride than my older girl. We've only jumped 2'6 under saddle so far, but I have a feeling that she'll move up to 3' very easily, and do it well.

                        There's a Morgan gelding who is a really keen free jumper -- and looks decent over fences at liberty, but quickly maxes out at 2'6 under saddle --becomes hollow and splinter bellied.

                        I wouldn't necessarily be too concerned about their only jumping him 2'6 under saddle. I know in a full training barn program, a 6 year old would generally be much further along, but many people take it slow with their youngsters over fences -- on purpose or because of other mitigating factors. My "young" girl technically turned 7 on Jan. 1 (though her actual foal date is in March, I think), and like I said, she's only at 2'6 under saddle right now.

                        The only way to get a sense of how a horse might be over bigger fences, is to ride him over lower fences. My older girl lets her rider know, in no uncertain terms, that jumping is her raison d'etre, even if she's only going over a 2 foot plain white pole.

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                        • #13
                          I just remember that Frank Chapot was not particularly impressed with Gem Twist as a young horse and sold him to an Amateur!!

                          Good thing the Amateur's trainer realized otherwise!!
                          co-author of 101 Jumping Exercises & The Rider's Fitness Program; Soon to come: Dead Ringer - a tale of equine mystery and intrique! Former Moderator!

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                          • #14
                            Did the seller give you any reason for the jump height? Some barns prefer to get them going as high as they can as soon as they can, others prefer to give horses plenty of time so they can have a much longer career and hopefully less maintenance down the road. Some horses just mature more slowly and take a while to really "click" with what they're being asked to do-so even if he's progressing a lot now, he might have had some sort of setback where he just wasn't really getting something. His training history could tell you a lot about his current jumping height.
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                            • #15
                              What about putting the horse through some gymnastics where you can raise the jumps up a bit? Would that give you a better idea of his potential over bigger stuff with a rider onboard?

                              In my very limited experience with event trainers, I have found that they put the jumps up much faster than my hunter trainers do. I think they like to figure out how brave, careful, and athletic the horse is before putting too much training into them.

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by keepthelegend View Post
                                I would be wary of the jumping blah over the little plain jumps. In my experience, a good jumper is a good jumper.
                                I wouldn't be wary of that as long as the horse demonstrated good ability over jumps that actually challenged it.

                                Case in point:

                                Exhibit A, fence ~3', maybe 3'3'': https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net..._5577942_n.jpg . Not very impressive at all and pretty typical over that height for that horse.

                                Exhibit B, fence ~4'5'': https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net...67534440_n.jpg Looks like a completely different jumper.

                                I agree with EAY - can you put the horse through some bigger gymnastics and see what its instincts are over those?
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                                • #17
                                  Free jumping will show you several things about the horse, his attitude towards jumping (is he interested in it, and think that it is fun?), his confidence level in himself and his abilities and his decisions, and his ability to focus and solve problems, and his natural carriage and natural balance. Much of his form can be shaped with training, if he has an adequate basic natural jumping ability, and likes doing it. A green horse may make mistakes. He may look awkward. He may need to learn how to fix his approach, and how to collect and coordinate himself for take off better, with the arc, the form, and the landing. It's nice to see a natural use of the neck, and bascule. Free jumping a young/green one will show you what he needs to work on to become a jumper (or hunter). If he finds it fun, and naturally easy to solve the problems he encounters in his initial jumping experiences, he can be trained. If he is frightened of jumping, or overly blase' and sloppy, these things are harder to deal with with training.

                                  Horses who are overly impressed over small jumps may not make jumpers. If they are so overly careful not to get close to anything, they may not be able to mentally accept the occasional hit or rail down, to the point that they don't want to play the game any more, even though they looked so fantastic early on. But on the other hand, you don't want to see sloppiness either. So somewhere in the middle is good. Horses who are naturally horrified of even attempting to jump and so concerned that they don't want to or won't even go to small jumps are telling you something... they are not good prospects.
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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by NancyM View Post
                                    Free jumping will show you several things about the horse, his attitude towards jumping (is he interested in it, and think that it is fun?), his confidence level in himself and his abilities and his decisions, and his ability to focus and solve problems, and his natural carriage and natural balance. Much of his form can be shaped with training, if he has an adequate basic natural jumping ability, and likes doing it. A green horse may make mistakes. He may look awkward. He may need to learn how to fix his approach, and how to collect and coordinate himself for take off better, with the arc, the form, and the landing. It's nice to see a natural use of the neck, and bascule. Free jumping a young/green one will show you what he needs to work on to become a jumper (or hunter). If he finds it fun, and naturally easy to solve the problems he encounters in his initial jumping experiences, he can be trained. If he is frightened of jumping, or overly blase' and sloppy, these things are harder to deal with with training.
                                    Very interesting (as well as the whole thread in general) and makes a lot of sense when I think about my mare and how she free jumps. Sounds like I have an awesome jumper on my hands!

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