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"Restarting" my seasoned h/eq horse over fences - suggestions?

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  • "Restarting" my seasoned h/eq horse over fences - suggestions?

    What would you do if you could "start over" in teaching your horse to jump?!?
    What "holes" in your horse's h/j training do you wish you could fix?!?

    I'm just about to start jumping my 13yr WB gelding, after getting the "all clear" from the vet. He hasn't jumped for about 8 mo, due to a foot injury diagnosed in early October. We adjusted shoes and he's been sound since November. We started back to work VERY slowly - walk, then w/t, then added canter - and after 6 months he's now back to a full flat work out, including work over ground poles. During this time, we refocused on correct dressage work and he now goes round and in a much better frame than he ever did with his strict h/j training.

    Prior to injury, we were jumping up to 3' regularly (hunters/eq) and started doing some cross country schooling. He is on the lazy (yet dependable) side - needs lots of leg, but happy to cruise around a full course.

    So, where now? How should I start him back over fences? Would you treat him like a greenie, or go faster in adding stuff? How about gymnastics - ready for them right away to build frame and roundness, or wait until he's going over hunter-type lines and such.

    Obviously, start small, see how he goes, and build up from there. Goal (in an amazingly-perfect world) would be to get back up to about 3' and be able to do some cross-country schooling, hunter paces, etc. However, I'm not planning on anything.

    Thanks for the suggestions! (I do have both a h/j trainer and a dressage trainer whom I work a few times a month, so I'll consult with them for sure.)

    Note: for anyone who cares/if this affects your suggestions: His injury involved some navicular break-down in his right-front. We added corrective shoeing and no other meds. Comparative xrays 4 month later showing he actually was GROWING bone in the area again (I know..vet had to take multiple shots to be sure that was correct). We have him another 2 month flat-only (hitting the "magic 6 months"). Now it's time to try jumping and see how he'll hold up... *fingers/toes/hooves/everything crossed!*

  • #2
    Treat him as a Greenie but go alot faster in adding jumps and bumping the heights up.

    Personally, sounds like taking the Dressage work over the fences would be a good lesson plan. Forget the actual jump and concentrate on what's happening between them. Low verticals and small square oxers. NO courses, singles, figure eight patterns and the wheel of death. Mix it up, keep him guessing.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


    • #3
      Your horse will not have forgotten anything. You need to start low and short schooling sessions from a medical/physical point of view but from a schooling point of view he could do a lovely three foot course today. The flat work to rebuild muscle is much more important than the jumping.
      Justice will only be achieved when those who are not injured by crime feel as indignant as those who are. - King Soloman (970-928 B.C.)


      • #4
        I had to bring my then 14 yr old seasoned 3' hunter back off a year-long layoff. Once the vet cleared him to return to 'normal' work (he walked under saddle for a month), I did three months of flat work, slowly building up to lateral work, counter cantering, etc.

        I then started him with only Xs and worked up to 2' over the course of a couple months. Since I only jumped him once a week, each week, I'd add a couple more fences. (I went very slow, as I wanted to see if the injury would hold.) By month three, he was doing a 2' course, and by month six, he was doing his normal courses again.

        I was dealing w/ a soft tissue injury, so I was hesitant to do very much quickly with him. My recommendation is to be sure he's very fit on the flat and then slowly introduce him back to it. I wouldn't do any grid work until you've been jumping again at least a month and at that I'd keep it at a conservative height. Good luck!


        • #5
          Grids are great but with an older horse coming back? I'd be careful there. Working a few low fences into your flatwork is a better choice at this point. Keep him (and you) interested without pushing too hard too fast.

          I'd make the fence excercises more complicated staying low as he gets fitter, not raising them much. That's going to help with what you want to do, improve the flatwork and take it over the fences to plug those old training holes or places where he has gotten sloppy over the years.
          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


          • #6
            I didn't jump my extremely well-trained (A show hunter) mare for about nine months two years ago due to some issues. I just brought her back slowly with a focus on getting her fit and keeping her sound. She didn't forget anything. I started over poles and cross-rails as her fitness grew. I let my horse tell me when she was ready to do more.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Release First View Post
              Your horse will not have forgotten anything. You need to start low and short schooling sessions from a medical/physical point of view but from a schooling point of view he could do a lovely three foot course today. The flat work to rebuild muscle is much more important than the jumping.
              I agree with this. My mare took a year+ off to have a baby. Once she was back in work, she was doing the Adult jumpers within a few months. She was a TB, though, and regained her fitness very quickly especially because she was running up and down hills with the baby for a few months, too.

              So take the time you want if you want to re-do the training, but don't worry that the horse has forgotten anything. If his body is sound, his mind will be fine.
              Originally posted by tidy rabbit
              Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community.


              • #8
                Bringing a 13 year old back

                Your best option is to ask your Vet ( or lameness expert ). Have him/her lay out a schedule for you each week and follow it to a "T". Your horse will not have forgotten how to jump, but you need to get him strong again before you start doing much of anything.


                • #9
                  I'm currently going through this same thing! My mare wasn't ridden at all for a little more than a year, and wasn't jumped for 3. The beauty of having so much time off is that not only have I gotten to work out my issues on another horse, but now I get to show her that "Hey! Look! Mom got a stronger leg and won't bop you in the mouth over the fences any more!" We also get to "start over" in the sense that she's well trained, but she gets to learn a new trick: the space between the fences is not to be rushed through and she doesn't have to book it to get to the next fence.
                  We spent 4 months bringing her back specifically on flat work. Getting her straight and taking the time to make sure she was strong before jumping her. So now I treat her like a totally new horse and it's going well and she enjoys learning new things (and taking advantage of mom's new tricks too ).
                  The time off has been like a big, collective deep breath. That's the beauty of it, it teaches you patience and you actually get to have that "I really wish we had spent more time on X but never had time because we had to get ready for the next show" moment. Just take it slow and have fun with backtracking and working on the things you always wanted to! Congrats on having your *pony* back!!!


                  • #10
                    Interesting timing on this as Star jumped his first jumps in over 11 months today. Vet said to start with x's and gradually build with the goal being to progressively bring him to 3' over six weeks. So, we did pole to x at the trot for about 5-6 jumps. He hadn't forgotten: the first jump was just like he'd been doing it regularly and consistently for the last 11 months. He did get a bit excited, but not unduly unruly.
                    The Evil Chem Prof


                    • #11
                      Like most people have said, start low and progressively higher. My friends horse was layed off a yr with a bad leg injury. Now she is back showing and jumping well. Start with small jumps and maybe some gymnastic lines. Another thing is when you feel comfortable with a line, you can go on to bigger and better things. Good luck riding and hope everything goes well!


                      • #12
                        I've rehabed a lot of horses when I was a working student. We usually started doing low things, like small cross rails, and then gradually progressed to bigger fences and full courses. Take things slow if you horse is struggling. If he's healthy, fit, and sound, you can raise the jumps up a hole or two and add a couple extra fences in. Be attentive to his progress and how he is taking his recovery. If he comes up sore one day, give him a light hack rather than a full out jumping session.


                        • Original Poster

                          Thanks, everyone, for the great feedback and suggestions!

                          Anyone know of any books with exercises that would be good to have on-hand?

                          I have tons of jumping-exericse books, but nothing that focuses on starting/restarting a horse (they're all more about fine-tuning, etc for horses that are already jumping regularly).


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by MR View Post
                            Thanks, everyone, for the great feedback and suggestions!

                            Anyone know of any books with exercises that would be good to have on-hand?

                            I have tons of jumping-exericse books, but nothing that focuses on starting/restarting a horse (they're all more about fine-tuning, etc for horses that are already jumping regularly).
                            Back to Work is highly recommended.
                            The Evil Chem Prof


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Peggy View Post
                              Back to Work is highly recommended.
                              I agree!


                              • Original Poster

                                Thank you - that does look like a great book (and something I should have on-hand at the barn anyhow!).


                                • #17
                                  See the "Conditioning for the Jump" thread in Eventing Forum

                                  I asked a question that might be relevant for the OP. It was about moving from flat work to jumping.

                                  I asked it over there because I think the Eventing world thinks really, really hard about conditioning.

                                  The main thing I got (that I hadn't thought of) was an emphasis on walking as a form of conditioning. They mean up hills and over varied terrain-- ideal for the butt and also all the ligaments in front that take so much longer to build up.

                                  Just more ideas!
                                  The armchair saddler
                                  Politically Pro-Cat