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Help with keeping my mare calm while jumping

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  • Help with keeping my mare calm while jumping

    Hi everyone I'm crossing boards from dressage land! I normally do dressage, but my mare loves to jump & sometimes I do too.

    We only go as high as 2'6" & always start off doing baby jumps before raising them. The problem I have is that my mare gets super excited when jumping. She has a tendency to start wanting to throw her head up & rush towards the fences. I've had several suggestions of making her stop before the jump when she gets excited, but that has caused the problem of refusing. Ugh such drama right hehe!

    I try to just get her to relax by trotting over the fences, but she gets worked up & starts cantering (almost like cantering in place). She will also start to canter very lateral, yet still be moving towards the jump.

    She does this even with baby jumps (think very low cross rails) so I know it is not from raising them. Any suggestions on things to work on would be great.

    As a side note she does much better when working on sets of jumps such as two strides & grids. I'm assuming it is because she actually has to think more about the course of jumps than just a single fence.

    Thank you in advanced!

  • #2
    In practice the minute she starts to "take over" shut her down. That means she tries to canter sideways? HALT! Tries to rush - HALT! Then make her stand there. She will hate it. Then she only gets to start jumping AFTER she listens to you.

    My 3rd level mare, once she learned changes, decided she knew when to do them - the heck with the rider. So whenever she starts to try to take over we do a canter/gallop halt transition, stand for a bit then restart. Sometimes we never get back to a canter but lately she actually listens - since she hates standing - so it's gotten though to her to wait for me!.
    Now in Kentucky

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    • #3
      I'm working on this too.

      My mare also anticipates once we start jumping. One thing that has worked really well is working over ground poles during every ride. I focus on getting her to stay at the same pace over one ground pole, even if I go into 2 point or let go of any contact on her mouth. If she start to rush, I stop her and make her stand. Once she is good with a single ground pole and then a line of ground poles trotting, I trot in and canter out, then canter in canter out. Cantering in and trotting out is also good. Next, I put a jump as the second ground pole. I do not stop her in front of the jump as the person I train with has said that this can lead to stopping issues.

      One good test is to see if during flat work, she will maintain the same pace even with no contact from the reins. If she won't, then this is something to work on first.

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      • #4
        How often are you jumping her? My horse will definitely get excited if he hasn't jumped in awhile but once he is in a regular jumping routine will settle down. Unfortunately sometimes I go a week or two without jumping because I will only jump with a trainer present, so once we start jumping again he will always be excited.

        I work on different transitions to the fence. Sometimes I ride up to it, halt, then carry on. Sometimes we halt in a straight line after. Sometimes I circle before and sometimes I circle in the middle of a line. A ground pole before, after or both is also a great tool and so are lots of gymnastics. It's helped him not know what to expect and back off just wanting to rush the fence.

        My horse is the type of horse that knows his job well and loves to please, but the problem is sometimes he tries to do things thinking I will ask him or before I ask him. If he is pointed at a jump, he knows he is supposed to jump it, which he is but at the pace I ask him too. He is never allowed to pull me to a fence. He can take me there, but not pull. When I start to feel him excited, we switch things up to something he doesn't expect like a straight ride to a fence.
        Owned by an Oldenburg

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        • #5
          My mare is also very excitable when I jump her. She has had a year of solid dressage training with a FEI trainer in order to give me more 'tools in my toolbox' to help with control ect.

          The one thing the dressage trainer told me that has helped a ton is that the distinction between jumping days and dressage days has to be very slight. On days that I jump, I start doing my typical dressage warmup, making sure that she has impulsion through the back instead of her just putting her head up and pulling. I use the same routine (just a little less of it without adding anything new or working on things that need polishing (for me half pass at this point)) and school her through the flat work she knows how to do well. By the time I am done with my warmup she has settled down for flat work. At this point only do I know she has the peace of mind and focus to jump.

          Because your mare is a dressage horse primarily, she most likely has a lot of power. Since it doesnt seem like you guys jump all the time, she probably doesnt know what to do with it. Since she is new to jumping, although she is an athlete and will pick it up sooner than horses with no foundation, you need to build her confidence over the fences. In my experience, when I am riding a bold horse that is green over fences the way they express their lack of confidence in their own strength and ability is by rushing and pulling with their heads up toward the jumps. Working in grids/gymnastics like you mentioned are tools to teach the horse how to use their bodies over the fences. She probably feels most comfortable here because using those tools are helping her to figure out the easiest way to make it to the other side of the jump. Working in grids only, without lines or singles (outside of your warmup baby fences and trot poles) for a few days of jumping will inevitably begin to give her the foundation she needs to have confidence in her ability. As that confidence grows I think you will see less of the rushing and more of the sitting back and using her body to jump.

          The cantering in place thing for a long time threw me off as well and my jumper trainer always told me that I can let it rile me up. When my mare does that I send her forward instead of halting and transfer the impulsion from up and down to forward. If I am not within a few strides of the jump I dont jump anything when she does this and work on maintaining a good forward motion instead of up and down. I do this with a lot of leg without any restriction of hand. Once I get back into the motion I take a jump and continue on as if it never happened. I find that if my mare is going sideways and up and down and gets really collected and I ask her to stop, she gets more upset, continues with the head tossing and I achieved nothing. Moving her out and putting her in a dressage frame with a lot of leg works better for me.

          Thats not to say that anything here will work for your mare, but there are several comments from people that you can try in order to try to fix the problem. Good luck!

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          • #6
            She sounds nervous. How accomplished are you over fences? Are you positive that you aren't catching her in the mouth/slamming onto her back/letting your leg swing back and gouge her?

            I'd treat her like a green horse and go back to just working over poles thrown randomly around the ring. When she is the same over those as on the flat, I'd make a few into itty bitty crossrails. Do your flatwork and randomly go over a pole and randomly trot over the crossrail. Make sure you aren't changing how you ride, by tightening up/shortening reins. Then continue flatwork, add a jump, etc. I'd work only on trotting over the actual crossrails until she is quiet. Then trot into a line of crossrails and canter out. You do know how to set distances for green horses, right? And that you need to add a stride if you trot into the first?

            Many times the hotness/trying to canter instead of trot/rushing is more due to nerves/fear/rider error than a horse just liking jumping.

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