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Starting greenies over fences--what's your program?

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  • Starting greenies over fences--what's your program?

    Sorry if there are other threads on this--a few searches didn't really come up with anything.

    I am interested in what you all do when starting a young/green horse over fences. How do you progress in terms of height, difficulty, athletic-ness needed, trotting/cantering fences, etc.?

    My OTTB is 10 years old, off the track this year, going under saddle since late July. Flatwork is coming along well--still has OTTB/green moments but nothing dirty or explosive. I started jumping him last week--8"-12" single crossrails with groundline and/or trot poles in front. Also went through a half-bounce set up--a 1' vertical followed by just half a crossrail. He is going like a champ overall--is sometimes wobbly on approach and has ducked out a time or two, but if I ride correctly he will prick his ears and take me straight to the fence, no questions asked.

    So far so good, obviously, but when he gets the basics down--where do I go from here? Suggestions, resources etc. are appreciated.


  • #2
    I would continue with that - lots of simple gymnastics and LOTS of calvaletti to engage his hind end and get him really using himself -

    Be sure your flatwork is consistant before really jumping -

    And since he is green, limit jumping days to once or twice a week so you don't over-do it.
    Friend of bar.ka!
    Originally posted by MHM
    GM quote of the day, regarding the correct way to do things:
    "There's correct, and then there's correct. If you're almost correct, that means you're wrong."


    • #3
      See and I like to trot them over little jumps almost daily. Especially a horse who isn't a baby. Incorporate little trot jumps into your daily flatwork and they learn that jumping is not a 'thing', it just is. Trotting keeps things slow, better teaches them to push from behind and it is easier to keep a trotting horse straight. Trotting five or six 2' jumps a day is not a huge deal.
      You will not rise to the occasion, you will default to your level of training.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Midge View Post
        See and I like to trot them over little jumps almost daily. Especially a horse who isn't a baby. Incorporate little trot jumps into your daily flatwork and they learn that jumping is not a 'thing', it just is. Trotting keeps things slow, better teaches them to push from behind and it is easier to keep a trotting horse straight. Trotting five or six 2' jumps a day is not a huge deal.
        this is the way i've gone at it when starting them o/f. start with poles, then make them little x's, then start doing little grids, etc. i move the horse up when they become competent enough that the previous level of difficulty is "no big deal" and they just do it without questioning what i'm asking of them. obviously for a baby, you want to limit the jumping somewhat, but making jumping as "routine" as possible has been successful for me.

        and of course, flatwork! increased rideability on the flat always always helps the jumping.
        Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique



        • Original Poster

          My current plan is this:

          Sunday: flat-focused with a few crossrails
          Monday: flat-only
          Tuesday: flat-only; easy hack/ride bareback to work on my seat
          Wednesday: off
          Thursday: flat-focused with a few crossrails
          Friday: ride in barn's new "jumping clinics''---group jumping lessons--can either ride whole lesson with beginner group, or ride thru jumping warm-up with advanced group depending on what they are doing.
          Saturday: off

          He tends to have a hard time relaxing after he's jumped, so I'd like to make jumping fairly routine for him so he learns to chill out afterwards.

          Currently, if he's going well, I'm only jumping 2-4 times per ride.


          • #6
            I like to trot small fences almost every single ride if possible just to make it as relaxing and casual as possible. I keep the jumps small but don't hesitate to make them a bit looky if the horses start to get bored. I mix them in with the flatwork to keep the horses from getting bored. I have two 3 yrs that I am riding right now and they get ridden 3-4 times a week and just trot over some 2-2'3" jumps including little boxes, barrels, flowers and whatever else I can find to spice up the little jumps.


            • #7
              I can't say enough about jumping them loose in a jumping chute before you ride them over fences. Make it small and inviting and then you can gradually increase the height, but slowly (we're talking over weeks). Put ground rails (10'-12' depending on his length of stride) before and after the fence to help him get to a good spot and jump the jump well. This way they learn to carry themselves over a jump before they carry a rider. Just remember, you want him to jump loose like they jump under saddle, meaning don't push them or rush them, keep it simple until he is confident. And be conscious of when he is tired, it's quite easy to tire them quickly when you are jumping them in the chute. I would do it max 2 times per week.

              Then, like Midge says, trot tons of little jumps. I start lots of babies jumping and I have 8-10 different little trot jumps in the ring sometimes, that I just go back and forth over for months and months. Make sure they are straight as you can get them, a nice even pace (not rushing) and make sure you don't get in his face over the top of the jump. (Key point! Which can be hard because you are never quite sure when they are going to take off). I am very adept at grabbing the mane AND steering at the same time. When he starts getting good at trotting fences (carrying you straight there, over, and away) then put a line to trot in canter out.
              "A good horse and a good rider are only so in mutual trust."


              • #8
                My program is to free jump them so that they gain some confidence without a rider messing them up. This allows them to figure out the grid on their own and how to use their bodies without the added weight/interference. Then I start to incorporate trot grids and cantering poles into my flat work. The cantering poles are especially useful because it allows me (and them) to find the striding to the fences and see how their stride adjusts etc. Then I start to bring in the same grid used for the free jumping- trotting in, cantering out. The grid helps my young horses build confidence without too much interference from the riders. I add height as I see necessary as their training progresses and then apply it to single fences and courses. I've found that confidence is key. Once they have confidence, the world is your oyster :-)
                Ryu Equestrian & Facebook Page
                Breeding Horses Today, for the Equestrian Sport of Tomorrow.
                Osteen & Gainesville, Florida.


                • #9
                  Once they can walk, trot, canter reliably (not necessarily super broke), I start hopping over stuff.

                  I'll start hopping over stuff when we can basically WTC both directions. This was this horse's first or second ride out of the auction. He seemed to have just done 'backyard western' before coming down our driveway, he was 5ish yo, and adorable! That was his first time hopping over stuff.

                  As long as the horse is confident over the first few crossrails, we move on to 2', 2'6" stuff inclusive of fill etc. I like to see how the horse reacts to different jumps -little verticals, little oxers, boxes, walls, stripes, flowers etc.
                  Stuff like this or this is a 3rd or 4th jump school type deal on a horse that is confident and happy. They don't have to be super broke about it (note how much more broke the grey was than the chestnut) but I like to just matter of factly hop over stuff.
                  The reaction of the horse tells you so much about his mind and what his "go to" response is.
                  Does he get tense? Quick? Back off? Ask the rider what to do? Etc.

                  It is a good tool to work on other stuff: how straight are we really? how responsive are we really? etc, but even more importantly it trains the horse to 'take your word for it.' The premise is "OK buddy, just pay attention to me; I will help you out and it will all turn out fine and then you'll get a pat." That can be a tremendously confidence-building thing for a horse to learn, and being able to push the "just trust me on this" button is very valuable from the rider's p.o.v.

                  At the stage of the game the horses were in in the linked videos, all of whom had had fewer than 7 or 8 jump schools when the videos were taken, it is all about training the mind, rather than developing the athletic skill.
                  Last edited by meupatdoes; Oct. 16, 2009, 08:43 PM.
                  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

                    meuptadoes--I want to ride like you when I grow up.

                    Interesting opinions from everyone--obviously there are several ways to set up a successful over-fences program.

                    As he is not a baby and is quite used to carrying weight etc, I don't think I'll do a jumping chute right now--that can be part of Plan B if we run into problems.

                    I have to say that after seeing meupatdoes' videos, maybe I am taking things a litle TOO slow in terms of introducing challenges--my horse goes quite similarly to the chestnut in her videos. He's jumping brick walls and we haven't even done flowers yet!

                    Riding in the group jumping lesson tonight and I know the trainer will be setting up some varied stuff--little gymnastics, flowers, etc. I am planning on videoing it and will post clips later if anyone's interested.


                    • #11
                      I agree, meupatdoes has got it goin' on!!

                      The hardest part of horse training sometimes is learning to listen to the horse. I think this is your sign:

                      Originally posted by LuvMyTB View Post
                      He tends to have a hard time relaxing after he's jumped, so I'd like to make jumping fairly routine for him so he learns to chill out afterwards.
                      With a horse like this, I'd suggest an approach such as Midge's. Take a step backwards and incorporate 2-3 stress-free crossrails into your daily routine. Just throw 'em in as an "Oh, by the way..." kind of casual thing and carry right straight on with the flatwork.
                      "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief


                      • #12
                        Like everyone is saying but I also include lots of ground rails. I set them as grids or randomly around the ring or as a course. Gives me a chance to teach the youngsters how to stay steady in lines or move up or adjust themselves and I can do it daily without taking any "jump"out of them.


                        • #13
                          My horses learn to jump "on the rope" before they are even riden the first time. My trainer rode with Gene Lewis. Horses that are already broke often start that that way too. They learn to look for their fences and find their own way. When we start riding them we often jump them after they've only been under saddle a few weeks because they understand the jumping part more then they understand the being ridden part they see it as a reward. We start out trotting (or even walking on line and then picking up trot when the horse has focused on the fence).

                          I've also done the trot poles to a cross rail, build up to a gymnastics thing... work fine too.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Midge View Post
                            See and I like to trot them over little jumps almost daily. Especially a horse who isn't a baby. Incorporate little trot jumps into your daily flatwork and they learn that jumping is not a 'thing', it just is. Trotting keeps things slow, better teaches them to push from behind and it is easier to keep a trotting horse straight. Trotting five or six 2' jumps a day is not a huge deal.
                            I agree with this. Xrails aren't something that is going to stress a horse, and since he's already 10 you kind of need to get the show on the road. hahaha. After he starts jumping bigger, and he's more confident and less green, cut the jumping back, but for right now, popping him over a few jumps everyday will do no harm in his training. I did this with my horse who was 8 when I got him, so we kind of needed to get him moving pretty fast, and he's gone from being afraid of a ground pole to jumping 3'6 and loving every minute of it(I got him 5 months ago, btw). Good luck with your boy!


                            • #15
                              I like to incorporate little jumps into regular flat work so jumping is no big deal.


                              • #16
                                Assuming he is staying quite and accepting, I would like to see some actual jumps introduced as singles. Just worked into the flatwork, not back and forth or anything. Just a 2'3" on the quarterline halfway down the long side-sometimes you take the rail and go past it, sometimes you turn a little earlier and just canter on down and over it. Back to flatwork. No big deal. Lets you see where you stand in rideability and mastery of that flatwork and, if he is nice and quiet, go to 2'6"...but just a few times mixed in with your flat. None of this OMG we are going to jump now.

                                When you have one that is older and you want to go show him over fences, at some point you need to introduce actual jumps to see where you are and to introduce the concept of all 4 feet off the ground in an actual jump in an easy and stress free fashion as opposed to courses.

                                Now, I have not broken any horses in years and do not ride the Greenies...but have watched both my own trainers and other competent Pros bring them along and, have to say, they don't dwell on those poles once they are a little older and they don't do many 2' "jumps" other then as part of the flatwork to keep it interesting. Not many courses. They seem to all spend alot of time on flatwork and go right to 2'6" set at 11 to 12' fairly quickly once they are well started.

                                Posted this a couple of time recently, see too many stuck at 2' or so cramming them into itty bitty lines over non jumps that are the size Western horses lope over in Trail and Western Riding classes. It encourages a too slow pace, a lazy, formless jump and does not teach them much of anything. It may help the rider gain confidence or break up flatwork for a youngster but it's not going to provide a foundation to go out and jump with.

                                This one is a 10 year old, no baby. And he raced. Once he is quiet and rider can manage the strides, he needs to go to fences he can actually jump and futher his education.
                                When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                                • #17
                                  I just try to keep it FUN for them. I like them to think it's fun and if they do, they'll try anything for me.

                                  95% of my riding on the greenies/young ones is flatwork. Not hacking, but good quality flatwork. I keep the rides short and to the point. I think the most important thing early on is keeping the horse forward and straight. The jumps, when they're this little, are inconsequential.

                                  Here's our very first try at a scary bushy jump. This horse looks like he's have a good time. We only did this line twice and then moved on to other things. No drilling at this point in the game.

                                  Last edited by tidy rabbit; Oct. 19, 2009, 03:38 PM.
                                  Stoneybrook Farm Afton TN