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Can a young horse turn from being the worst jumper to a fairly talented one ?

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  • Can a young horse turn from being the worst jumper to a fairly talented one ?

    I have a horse that I have owned since he was a baby.
    He is bred to jump and has a nice build for it. He has been started a couple of months ago under saddle and is doing quite well. I tried to free jump him a couple of month ago and he was very sloppy. We raised to jumps to try to make him use himself and after a few times, je just crashed through the arena to get out.
    That should have been my first clue.

    Since then we have played over itty bitty X rails and he is just stepping over.

    Today I decided to do a little gymnastic, and he was just crashing into everything. It was like fence bowling ... Strike, strike, strike...

    He doesn't stop, he just doesn't care. He will happily plow through and doesn't see the point in actually jumping.

    The last time we did the grid, he finally tried a little bit and did a half decent job.

    I can feel that He doesn't really want to jump, but he goes, he just doesn't seem to want to do it. And even when everything flies, it doesn't phase him...

    Any hopes ?

  • #2
    Perhaps he just isn't strong enough on the flat yet. We have had several youngsters who initially weren't good but after a LOT of flatwork, became proficient. I like to get them solid on the flat (like 6mo- 1 year of serious work), then start jumping at 2'6"-3' and move up quickly. When the jumps are bigger they will usually take them more seriously and if they have a good background in the flatwork, then bigger jumps should be no problem.


    • #3
      I would agree with getting him really fit before you worry too much about jumping.

      And I guess if you don't feel he's overfaced on the bigger jumps, maybe try something "scarier" to pique his interest?


      • #4
        Might it be possible to turn him around with enough time and enough Faith and enough dogged perserverance?


        Is it worth it to spend all that time and effort on him when in the same time you could train ten others who will trot up the first time, hop over, and canter softly away like they've been doing it all their lives, is the question.
        The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
        Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
        The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY


        • Original Poster

          Well, he is flatwork is actually pretty strong, he is going to a dressage show in 3 weeks. He is very nice, obedient and balanced on the flat ...


          • #6
            Yes,it does happen.
            I have had a few who did,also a few who didn't.
            One example.
            A 4 and a half year old Argentinus mare. Big and beautiful. Lovely movement. I went to try her under the saddle,and she was a dream to ride. I warmed her up then tried a few fences. She had no idea!
            Out of a course of 9 fences,she had 8 down. Her rhythm was good as was her backend,but in front she just left everything hanging and became more and more unhappy.
            I did like her though and I actually think that the strain and stress of being broken in,being so big and rangy/scopey,left her alittle confused and sore and just couldn't cope under the saddle. (She jumped amazing in freedom)
            Horses,like children and other young pets (;-)) develop at different speeds.
            You have to believe in them and go at the tempo that is comfortable for them.
            On the other hand,some horses just never get it and are not born to jump. I'm sure they have other qualities....
            The mare I talked about? She became a really lovely 1.40 horse with a girl I sold her to. She just needed time.


            • #7
              I suggest you read Linda Allen's column about jumpers in the US vs Europe in COTH this month. In short, she uses Hickstead as an example of a horse who was horrible as a youngster but given time and fundamental training became a star.

              It is too easy to be lazy and say,"Why waste your time when there are 10 others?" You may just be throwing away a diamond.



              • #8
                Have you free-jumped him? What does he look like on his own?

                Also, have you set up anything more substantial than a cross-rail? Some of them just don't see the point in caring about the fence until it has some height to it.

                Also, I assume you aren't using PVC poles that he can just kick out of the way with no pain?


                • #9
                  Originally posted by mademoiselle View Post
                  Well, he is flatwork is actually pretty strong, he is going to a dressage show in 3 weeks. He is very nice, obedient and balanced on the flat ...
                  But you also state in your OP that he has only been a couple months u/s.

                  I agree with most of the other posters re: flatwork and strength. But yes, it is possible.

                  My mom had a gorgeous OTTB I considered jumping when she first bought him. Very athletic, talented horse. I sent him over jumps on the ground and u/s with results similar to yours, OP. Poles were heavy wooden - he just did not care and would crash through them with gusto. This gelding was one who would also literally pretend he did not know something then, voila, decide to give it to you. Imo he was a bit slow to mature Wonderful guy though and my mom was not riding him so we leased him out to two novices. A year later (?), at about 6yrs, he was developing into a REALLY nice little hunter!! With novices! Great form, good scope, careful o/f.

                  Sure, you can give up on him and quit potentially wasting your time. Might be a mistake, might not be.
                  Last edited by naturalequus; Mar. 7, 2012, 08:57 PM.
                  ....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.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by RAyers View Post
                    It is too easy to be lazy and say,"Why waste your time when there are 10 others?" You may just be throwing away a diamond.

                    I don't think it is lazy so much as a cost/benefit analysis.

                    The horse that takes a year to get itself together at 2'6" costs as much to board as the one that is doing 2'6" courses after a month.

                    If a customer comes to you with a flip project are you going to spend a year making them a 2'6" horse (IF it ever figures it out), or are you going to tell them, let's cut your losses and blow this one out the door and try again with something else that can be doing the Pre-Greens in 6 months? Sure it might be Snowman but is that long shot really a good way to spend the customer's money?

                    I guess some trainers figure they will get their training fees either way.

                    Personally I think the improvement/value increase per board and training $ spent ratio needs to be kept in consideration.
                    If you're seeing a $20,000 potential sale tag and 12+ months of full training to get there, move on.
                    The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                    Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                    The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by naturalequus View Post
                      But you also state in your OP that he has only been a couple months u/s.

                      Being able to carry a rider in a somewhat balanced manner in a basic w/t/c manner is not at all the same as thinking he should be able to figure out how to jump, rider on board or not.

                      When my guy was a young 4yo, he was big, he was strong, he could carry my 120lb frame w/t/c without falling down. But put him to a cross rail? He'd just plow through it. Not worth his energy and effort.

                      This was him a year or so later, just getting back into the game.
                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                      • #12
                        Has anyone tried schooling such a "sloppy" laid back horse over beginner novice event fences-- enough to be solid and sting his toes without putting anyone in danger? (Plus he might find it more attention getting and interesting to jump ditches and go through waterf? ) Might try asking the eventer folks?


                        • #13
                          I thought that my neon green project pony wouldn't be able to jump when she killed the same plank vertical set 12 inches off the ground 6 times in a row. She just kept plowing through it over and over without blinking. She also couldn't figure out 3 trot poles or single crossrails. She's fat, older, hairy, and wasn't terribly forward so I figured she'd make a nice kids rail horse.

                          Imagine my shock when I took her to her first jumping lesson and she ended up trucking through a SEA of poles over not only her first vertical but her first bounce ever. She sent things flying in the bounce a few times but the sea of poles, the forwardness I was asked to get her into, and the size of the fence helped and something clicked.

                          Imagine my incredible shock when in her second lesson she jumped through a 4 jump grid ending in two sizeable verticals and circling around to a sizeable single vertical. She hit a fence once. Now she's a jump clearing fiend who has a mean hand gallop I'm having trouble wrestling back into a suitable canter.

                          After these experiences I have decided that some horses need to have an intense pole filed, larger height fence session or two before they figure it out and you make your decision.


                          • #14
                            A few months undersaddle doesn't equal a strong background in flatwork (or at least not in my opinion). How responsive is he to your leg, seat and hands? Can you adjust his stride easily (at all gaits)? How is his lateral work? Can he work in a frame (long and low is fine) and has he achieved sufficient "throughness"? These are all things to consider when assessing your flatwork.

                            Personally, I don't like trotting in to many jumps with babies. Sure you can trot a couple as a warm up but cantering a jump is a lot more natural and will help with horses that tend to be lazy. I also wouldn't bother with cross rails but would start them over more substantial jumps. Once your horse has gotten the idea of actually picking up his feet, then you could go back to trotting some bigger jumps. Trot jumps can be beneficial for improving form and building strength but they have to understand their job first.


                            • #15
                              I have played with a lot of "backyard" level horses, so my experiences should be taken with a grain of salt. I had one horse though - not wonderfully built, not wonderfully athletic - that was fit, sound, and physically capable of jumping; however, he seemed to just NOT. GET. THE. PICTURE. At all. Clunked over everything, usually hard enough that if the heavy wood standards stayed upright, it was a good jump. Took him to a neighbors place where they had logs and beginner novice type cross country fences. Trotted one - I don't think he's ever hit a jump since, in the field or in the ring. We trotted and cantered cross country jumps that first day out in the field, and almost everything since has been in the ring. May work, may not - depends on what's really going on with your horse. With mine, I was pretty sure it was a brain and motivation issue.


                              • #16
                                I had one who'd plow through anything. Very fit in and in the end learned not to wreck xc jumps unless they were flimsy (!) but poles? Forget it. Did not give a crap. Whacked himself on anything, never blinked an eye.

                                Now I won't buy a horse unless it's wood-allergic. I like to occasionally get a ribbon for all my hard work and money spent, and a horse who doesn't want to jump clean won't get me very many.

                                I can't afford to keep buying horses and spending a year or 2 finding out if it will make it.
                                PSSM / EPSM and Shivers Forum


                                • #17
                                  You are describing my old horse. I bought him towards the end of high school as a unbroke 3yo. Had him going undersaddle, and started free jumping him. He did the same thing. He just plowed right through everything I pointed him at and rails flew everywhere. I was horrified, as I bought him to be a hunter/jumper. He was like that free jumping for over a month, andalso when I started jumping him over cross rails undersaddle. I thought I had bought the only horse who naturally did not know how to jump. Then one day it just clicked. He suddenly figured it out and he loved jumping more than any horse I have ever known.

                                  He never stopped at a single fence (even with the little girl who bought him from me), it didn't matter what you pointed him at or how big he was going to jump it. This was stupid on my part, but I even entered him in a recognized horse trial at novice level as a 5yo when he had only ever jumped a couple of logs in a field xc wise. He never even hesitated at the event, jumping banks, water, whatever I pointed him at. If you turned him lose in a arena with jumps he would run around on his own accord jumping them all (even if I wasn't in the ring with him). If the jumps where not set up he would jump the wing standards on his own (it was kinda scary to see and I had to run out and stop him). So have hope, and give him some time. He will fugure it out!


                                  • #18
                                    When we started my baby horse over fences she went with the "crashing through the jumps" method of getting from one side of an obsticle to the other. I'm not sure if she didn't get it, or if she didn't care, or if she found spreading lumber everywhere to be fun.

                                    The flat work improved, horse learned how to carry herself, and I definately improved my skills. We focused on flat for a good 6-7 months, adding poles every so often. She also got a ton of pro rides, which helped me out a ton.

                                    Now I have a horse who is safe, careful, and fun to jump. She will never pin in a rated hunter class, but that was never my goal for her. She leaves the rails up, and helps me out a ton, even as we raise the rences 3'+.

                                    If you are patient, and help your horse out by making him fit and strong, you might fix him. You also have to be as accurate as a rider as you can, so your weight doesn't throw him off balance and mess up his effort.


                                    • #19
                                      My own horse was a natural right from the beginning. The first jump she ever went over was a log out on the trail and we were blown away by how awesome she was (and she had only been under saddle for 2 months at this point as a western horse). She has jumped everything like that for the 9 years since then.

                                      I think a lot of it is natural ability and affinity. Some horses are just more careful than others. And I think this is what separates the wheat from the chaff: some horses are embarrassed to ever touch a rail. Some just don't care.

                                      I think a lot of it is how you treat them, though. My mare moved up really quickly and I never wasted time on doing little stuff. Within a month of beginning jumping she was already out competing at 3'0" and within a few more months she was competing 3'6"+ (the mare is 14.1h). I think this might have helped: she never had the opportunity to be lazy. I think if you take forever to move the horse up it's going to get bored and feel under challenged.

                                      I had a coach once who swore by grids. All he'd ever do is grids and they'd be very complicated ones. I tend to agree with him -- I think doing complicated grids 90% of the time you jump will help any horse become more catty and attentive.


                                      • #20
                                        We have one of those at our barn, and he's slowly figuring out where his legs are and how to actually pick them up over a fence. We have another who one day just got with the program and turned into quite a cute little jumper.

                                        One of things that helped was switching from flimsy poles to some solid wood ones. Definitely was an eye-open for a big guy who could crash through PVC like paper.