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Teaching a horse to jump

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  • Teaching a horse to jump

    I'm looking for input on teaching a green horse to jump. I have a mustang who has been brought along very slowly in dressage, but I'd like to do some jumping with him. I've done a bit of goofing off in my arena and schooling little logs XC, but it doesn't come naturally for him. He puts his head down over the fence and kind of lands in a heap, not going forward very well.

    I just jumped a couple of fences at home and wasn't really getting the flow so I took his tack off, made a jump chute, and put him through it a few times. He has a really cute jump! Jumping on his own he will land and go forward so of course I'm sure it is balancing a rider on top that causes him some issues with what to do.

    What has worked for you in training a horse to jump? How much (and how often) do you use a jump chute?

    I'm thinking that a little bit after every ride might be good so that it becomes No Big Deal? After a couple weeks progressing to me jumping him under tack?

    And at what point do you just say This horse doesn't like to jump...?
    "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran

  • #2
    Never used a jump chute. Just got on, and trotted over poles, and then small cross rails/verticals. Once they could trot over quietly, I'd add a small jump on the "out" of a line. Trot over just it, then trot into line and canter out.

    Started teaching jumping as soon as "forward" was installed. They need to know that "forward" isn't optional. So even if they stop, jump is small enough that they still can walk over the jump, or jump from a standstill.


    • #3
      Hate free jumping. Just jump things. They all land in a heap until they figure it out. Just keep going until they learn to land cantering. And head down over the jump is GOOD, not bad.


      • Original Poster

        Hahahaha, I know head down over a jump is good, it is just that it is still down - with the accompanying back-humping - upon landing!

        I'd never done any jump-chuting before, always just got on and jumped . . . this horse has no problem going to the jumps and is rateable and very even in his tempo - it is just the landing gear where we're stuck...
        "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


        • #5
          Originally posted by CBoylen View Post
          Hate free jumping. Just jump things. They all land in a heap until they figure it out. Just keep going until they learn to land cantering. And head down over the jump is GOOD, not bad.
          This... Trot into everything. Trot, trot, trot!
          "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


          • Original Poster

            EqT, could you tell me why to trot everything?
            "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


            • #7
              Start with poles on the ground. Teach them to trot/canter forward over the poles, then once they've mastered that add a SMALL cross-rail to the end. Keep it slow, balanced, and positive. Don't rush it! Have fun


              • #8
                Several ideas:

                If he has been trained in dressage, he has probably never felt a rider's weight lean forward over his shoulders. So this shift of weight is imbalancing him and he is showing it by landing in a heap. (Obviously, without a rider he can jump without worrying what the weight shift will be.)

                Ride him a lot (especially in the canter) in a half seat to get him used to carrying your weight farther forward.

                Don't mustangs have shorter necks than domesticated horses? If so, then you have to be very aware of your upper body not leaning out too far.

                Other suggestion, do not jump one jump. Set a gymnastic of 3 elements: pole on the ground to an X to a small vertical. The heights can be low (12"). The point is to get him to make a jumping effort and have to land going forward to make another jumping effort.

                Once he can do this, set 3, then 4, x's in a row. You can jump this in both directions. The X's can be 9" to start if that is what he needs. The actual jump is not the issue; landing and going forward is. So the smallest jump that will make him actually jump, not trot over it, is all you need.

                Be very aware of where your upper body is at all times, though, especially through the grid. He needs your help to get his head up as he lands.
                "He lives in a cocoon of solipsism"

                Charles Krauthammer speaking about Trump


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Pocket Pony View Post
                  EqT, could you tell me why to trot everything?
                  In the beginning you want to trot in because it helps them learn where to jump from and its easier for them.

                  I have only jumped the babies for years now, I cannot jump big stuff, my neck doesnt accomodate it LOL so I have lots of practice trotting in, cantering out..
                  "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


                  • #10
                    I agree, I absolutely trot everything. It teaches them to jump correctly. I don't do grids until they have learned to land cantering, and I don't canter singles or the ins of lines until they are going around a course trotting in and cantering out with changes in the corners.


                    • Original Poster

                      Very helpful information, everyone, thank you! This gives me more of a plan. Yes, LHU, you are right in that he's likely not used to my weight in a forward seat - when I canter him in a half seat he sometimes seems like he might feel unbalanced, so I'll definitely work on getting him comfortable with my weight in a different position (80% of the time I ride him in a dressage saddle - the other part of the time is split between a western trail saddle or bareback).

                      I don't feel he'd be ready at all to do a grid, but he is good at trotting poles, so I can set up a trot-pole "grid" with a crossrail at the end and add to it as his comfort level increases. I've jumped him over low crossrails before but have had to put them up so he'd actually jump - otherwise he just trots over them.

                      This advice is very helpful, thanks a lot!
                      "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran