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Attention Hunter Jumpers: Need New Exercises for a not-so-adept jumper!

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  • Attention Hunter Jumpers: Need New Exercises for a not-so-adept jumper!

    What kind of jumping exercises are most successful for teaching horses to pick up their feet/jump when just starting? This one's not so brilliant with his feets...

    We've been working on trot poles and trot poles to an X, then canter off after the fence, but need more exercises!

    Note: horse is well schooled on the flat--first level dressage

  • #2
    Originally posted by HollysHobbies View Post
    What kind of jumping exercises are most successful for teaching horses to pick up their feet/jump when just starting? This one's not so brilliant with his feets...

    We've been working on trot poles and trot poles to an X, then canter off after the fence, but need more exercises!

    Note: horse is well schooled on the flat--first level dressage
    The best exercises for horses that don't pick up their feet ... are the ones with heavy wooden poles. Preferably square ones that don't roll, which will smart a bit if they get hit.

    Seriously... the ones that can't be bothered to pick up their feet don't tend to get a lot more careful over time. There *are* some that will pay more attention and make a better effort over more imposing fences, but there are just as many that either stop or barrel right on through them. I personally wouldn't invest a lot of time in one that didn't show much aptitude over simple fences like the ones you describe; there are too many nice horses out there that are happy to jump clean.
    We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


    • #3
      I had one that didn't quite understand that he wasn't supposed to touch things who I took cross country. It is incredibly rare that he hit anything now. He's not the most talented thing. His problems at the beginning were partially confusion and partially klutziness. I second Lucassb on not wasting too much time with it; our gelding has an amazing temperament which makes him ideal for his main rider. It was worth it in the end because he figured it out (logs hurt more than poles, I guess. ) - some never quite get it and never are very careful.


      • #4
        You might try some free-jumping, it might help him to figure out his legs without a rider. Make sure you set it up slowly and carefully though, just a ground pole at first, then add a rail before and after, then make it an x, etc.
        "A good horse and a good rider are only so in mutual trust."


        • #5
          I'll echo the "don't put too much time into it" sentiment. Sounds like your guy is just starting, but I've found it's rare to find a horse that gets more careful with age (not to say that he won't make a nice jumper....just that that type of horse doesn't often become a jump-out-of-the-skin-to-not-hit-a-rail-type horse).

          I've had a couple that were as athletic as anything but just didn't care if they hit the rails. The one I put the most energy into was a 10-year project that I took through the 4'9" jumpers. I finally gave up a decade in and sold him as a 3'6" packer to a guy who didn't care if a rail came down here or there. I won't go into the whole story, but suffice it to say that I tried EVERYTHING with that one, but my lesson in the end was that you can't make a horse *want* to be careful.

          With that being said, you can, of course; work on gymnastics, take him cross country (if you don't feel jumping solid obstacles might cause the horse to flip on you), let him free jump (which could really help if it's an issue of the horse not knowing where to put his body parts), use cement/heavy poles or square poles, etc.

          Good luck!
          Flying F Sport Horses
          Horses in the NW


          • #6
            i would suggest gymnastics and free jumping as well.

            My guy is new to jumping too, and he appears that he doesnt care over crossrails, but turned out he was just bored with little things and i was holding him back, so you might try a couple to see if thats the case for you too.

            gymnastics will help him find his feet and jumping form.


            • #7
              Agree with everybody on they don't tend to get more careful. If he is hitting them just to hit them there isn't a ton to do. If he's just green and clueless and things fall, well thats different. If it was mine I would take it cross country a couple times and let him hit a few of those (of course I'm an eventer so I would do that anyway), also I would work on the flat over some raised trot poles. Anything to make him have to think where his feet are and what they are doing. Just have a tight leg as I've seen horses like this just about go to their knees the first time they trot that first taller trot pole not paying attention.


              • #8
                Is he jumping in good form but just not picking up his feet repeatedly or is he discombobulated/floundering a bit trying to figure out where they all go? If the former, agree he is not likely to get much better. If they latter, he will figure it out. My latest one took forever to really get it all together and jump smoothly -- he just got overexcited and feet went everywhere. He wasn't careless, just didn't really get it and was disorganized. He has turned into a very, very nice jumper with good style.

                If that is the issue, I recommend cantering some low jumps if you have a decent eye for distance. For some horses the shape of the canter makes it easier for them to figure out what the shape of the jump should be like. The canter is a rolling, round gait, and makes it easier for the horse to figure out the jump should be a rolling, round thing too. It is harder for the disorganized ones to figure that out from a trot.

                I don't really use ground poles, just canter up to low verticals or crossrails. The ground poles can be mental overload for one that isn't really figuring it out. Simplify, simplify.

                Edited to add: totally agree about using wooden poles. Nothing can make a mediocre jumper worse than using PVC poles.


                • #9
                  I think I dis-agree

                  I had a big horse who was amazingly brave and talented, but put to small jumps, x's, etc, he just didn't see the reason to pick himself up. One time I was in a lesson on him with my young daughter doing a line of cross rails, and he fell down!!! But could jump 3'6" all day long.

                  I also had a nice OTTB that didn't seem much like a jump prospect at first, just needed to figure it out.

                  I would free jump him over bigger obstacles - once he's comfy and not scared - in the ring, then some solid fences outside. Worked for us. Good luck.


                  • #10
                    101 Jumping Exercises For Horse & Rider by Linda Allen and our own Weatherford is full of good exercises over poles and jumps. I especially like the pole exercises, because they improve a lot of coordination without much external input.
                    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                    • Original Poster


                      I'm mostly a dressage rider, but I do the occasional hunter show and low level event...I don't need to win, but I'd like to put in an ok/non scarey round (just for fun)

                      I did try cantering an x--this sounds odd, but I'm pretty sure he threw all his legs in one direction. I half expected to skid to a stop. kind of scarey

                      He is a bit lazy, but mostly seems to have no idea where his feet are jumping wise or what to do. (discombobulated? sp?!)

                      I am using heavy wood poles for him to jump (not the plastic ones).

                      Yes, maybe I'll try to get a hold of that book...I have the 101 dressage exercises--it's a great book!

                      I haven't tried free jumping him...will need to solicit help for that...I don't want to scare him!

                      Thanks for the ideas!


                      • #12
                        Since it sounds from your last post like he just hasn't figured it out, I would recommend putting someone who jumps green horses regularly on him to help teach him his job. Because his lumberings are scaring you, you are not in a good position to let him work it out by yourself.

                        Cantering once over an X isn't going to solve the problem, because it is a brand new thing and he hasn't been given a chance to figure it out. He needs regular and patient schooling, by which I mean 20-30 tries in a session, twice a week, for a month. Then re-evaluate and see where you are.

                        Training a horse to do anything is a slow, time-consuming process when done correctly. Hopping over a jump now and then is not going to get you anywhere in a training sense.