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teaching a horse to jump round over fences

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  • teaching a horse to jump round over fences

    I own a lovely young horse that is doing very respectably in the hunter over fences classes at our A rated shows. We are always in the ribbons but those top three spots just seem to elude us every time. The judges I have spoken to after the classes always say the same thing...he has to maintain that round head and neck up to and over the fences. At the moment he maintains excellent rythm and his distances are perfect but the last two or three strides he lifts his head and neck just a very, very little and when jumping his neck almost looks a little inverted (he's not but just to give you an idea of what I am trying to describe). It is VERY subtle but still you can almost count to the stride out when he will lift that neck coming into the fence. He has no problem with the height, a very easy going guy that loves to do his job. Has had regular massage etc. This is not a medical or soreness issue just a small training issue that I am trying to address. He is shown and trained by a very competant professional who is well aware of the high head and neck issue but I am just trying to get some ideas from you guys as to what you might suggest. I might add I am not into drawreins or any type of training aids or gadgets....I just want to do this correctly and assist this horse to learn that he can still jump with his head down.

  • #2
    If he is being trained by a "competent professional" then if I were you I would let them do their job. If the pro is not getting the desired results then consider another pro. It is very difficult to give you advice when anohter is training your horse, so hard to know what has and has not been tried. Some horses do jsut approach in this way, and can be hard to get them to change. Of course, the takeoff/landing poles is always an idea in a sitaution like this, as well as gridwork, but if the pro is "competent" I would think they would have already thought and tried these technique. Sometimes this is caused by the rider "picking" too much in front of the fence, so see if that is the case and see if you can retrain yourself to ride him on a bit of a loop to the fence if so. Also, you do not say what size fences the horse is jumping and his level of training. If he green? are the fences rahter low? If so time , experience and bigger fences once he gets mileage may cure this issue. I jsut think there is too little info here to correctly assess the situation.


    • #3
      Have you tried free jumping? Sometimes without a rider, they will relax down and stretch their back a little more, and it may carry over to under saddle work. It's worth a shot, most seem to LOVE free jumping
      Cornerstone Equestrian
      Home of Amazing (Balou du Rouet/Voltaire) 2005 KWPN Stallion
      RPSI, KWPN reg B, and IHF nominated


      • #4
        My CANTER cutie Chip and IHSA shows!


        • #5
          Steep crossrails, gymnastics, and big releases!

          That's been my strategy with my guy and it's working pretty well. Like your horse, he doesn't jump inverted, just not always with as round a neck as the hunter judges like to see. Based on his conformation, he'll never have the "knees to his eyeballs" way of jumping, but by working on really getting him to rock back, and using steep crossrails to force his knees up, he's gotten more consistent over the regular jumps.


          • #6
            The use of the head and neck is one of the hardest things to get a horse to do when it doesn't do it naturally. Some of them just aren't built to use themselves properly or just don't do it. Is he a trakehner? It's a common trait for them and why many people avoid them for the hunter ring. You may not be able to correct the horse to a degree that's going to affect your placings.
            You can get him to use himself to the best of his personal ability by some of the suggestions above, mainly the use of a landing rail after your jumps and especially in the middle of all the elements of your grids. I would also add a chambon or drawreins to the belly run through a yoke, as that's may enable you to correct him to a larger degree, but that's your choice. Your rider is also going to have to be very careful in avoiding adjusting near the fence, staying out of the way in the air, and spending a lot of time working on getting the horse to drop down under all circumstances.


            • Original Poster

              All very good suggestions, thanks guys. Yes my trainer has been utilizing all of the ideas above already, the landing pole after the jump, lots and lots of gymastics grids (which he does absolutely beautifully in perfect form over the grid) and the use of drawreins has also been suggested by my trainer. He does jump through a chute once again in a lovely round form. This horse does not jump the small fences particularly well as he canters "over" them rather then actually sit back and "jump" them. The fences he is now jumping are only 3'3" I suspect that as the height of the fence goes up I should expect to see more of a jump with the rounder head and neck. At least I think so....and yes he is part Trakehner. The sweetest easiest horse to ride I have ever owned We will continue with all our gridwork and cross rails and see what happens.


              • #8
                One more thought is that perhaps the horse just NEEDS to carry his head a little higher to truly get a bearing on the jump intself? Maybe he lifts his head so he can either a) SEE the durned thing, or b) balance back on his haunches a tiny bit more for better liftoff.
                Check bit fit or type of bit, too.
                There may be some tension relating to those last two strides that you need to be more aware of. Does he have a big ol' step and actually require some contact those last two strides to keep him from going past his distance? Maybe that's where the whole thing started.
                I actually judged a show this weekend and there were two horses there that I just wanted to yell out to the riders "keep his head up" on those last two steps because they kept loping past the good distances!!
                (It's a curse, really..... I always coach from the judge's box even when nobody can hear me....)
                Otherwise, (and I am SO on the no-gadgets-when-not-needed wagon), judicious use of drawreins over fences can reallly do some amazing things with teaching the horse more about how to use their body.
                Once you get to the fine-tuning of an otherwise excellent show horse, you gotta bring out the power tools and be comfortable using them.
                Good luck!


                • #9
                  Low wide oxers.

                  chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by cherham View Post
                    All very good suggestions, thanks guys. Yes my trainer has been utilizing all of the ideas above already, the landing pole after the jump, lots and lots of gymastics grids (which he does absolutely beautifully in perfect form over the grid) and the use of drawreins has also been suggested by my trainer. He does jump through a chute once again in a lovely round form. This horse does not jump the small fences particularly well as he canters "over" them rather then actually sit back and "jump" them. The fences he is now jumping are only 3'3" I suspect that as the height of the fence goes up I should expect to see more of a jump with the rounder head and neck. At least I think so....and yes he is part Trakehner. The sweetest easiest horse to ride I have ever owned We will continue with all our gridwork and cross rails and see what happens.
                    If he does it well free jumping but not quite as well under saddle I would have the fit of the saddle evaluated by an independent saddle fitting professional.

                    It is absolutely epidemic in the hunter world that people slap the same saddle on every horse they every ride and say, "This saddle fits everything GREAT!"
                    Often a thick wool pad is added to increase the fun.
                    Also, just because the brand rep "fit" the saddle to the horse does not mean it fits, which is why I make the font all fancy for the word "independent."

                    If you really have tried all of the things you mentioned above and are spending the amount of money involved in all of that training and showing, not to mention the maintenance costs and board etc etc etc, having an **independent** saddle fitter come out for $150 should cost less than your farrier bill for the month.
                    The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                    Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                    The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY


                    • #11
                      In addition to what CBoylen said, I would add that you need to really think about is his head just down/low coming to/in between the fences or is he truly carrying himself w/his back up and *therefore* his head is down? Because if it's the former, then instead of sitting down and looking up, while maintaining roundness to and over the fence - he will invert as soon as he begins to prepare to jump. If he really does have his back up then he needs to learn to sit down in front of the fence and use his hocks/rear end better so he can look up to the fence.

                      It's really all about his back and his head between the fences and over them is a side effect of it.

                      Learning to keep the horse more between your leg and your hand can help w/this. Your horse may be one of those who cannot or will not maintain his carriage without being ridden more on the aids/in more of a frame which can result in them looking less like a hunter.
                      "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.