A good horse jumping style can come naturally to some horses, but with training and determination any horse can improve. Read on to find out more about teaching your horse to jump.
How to perfect your horse jumping
Mastering your horse jumping position takes years of practice, dedication and patience. You will know when a horse jumps well because he will round his back, use his shoulders to raise his forearms, tuck his legs, and stretch downward with his head and neck.
Your jumping position needs to be comfortable for both you and your horse; being behind or ahead of the jump will result in you being thrown backwards, or the head being jerked and him falling over the fence. You should always lean forwards and look straight in the direction you are riding, and move your hands a little up the horse’s neck to allow him more freedom. To avoid taking up the jumping position too early, or too late, learn to count your strides into each fence, so you are able to go with your horse at the right time.
Common horse jumping problems
Knocking down poles is a common problem; your horse may be rushing or jumping flat. You’re horse is therefore not using his body properly to arch over the fence. One way to prevent this is too use V poles, which encourages the horse to bring his front end up more and round his body over the fence.
A horse refusing to jump happens because you’re either going too fast, too slow or not in a straight line. Try placing the poles at the very edge nearest the wing on each side. Leaving as much jump in the middle as possible is a way to stop your horse refusing to jump.
Staying straight can be down to you as the rider because of steering problems and ineffective aids. It may also be that your horse is naturally one sided. Putting a pole on his worst side will help to center the horse. The straighter your horse is, the better he will jump because he will be able to push off his hind legs.
Horses can sometimes be unpredictable when jumping so always make sure you wear a riding helmet and have an instructor when you’re starting out. Make sure you use the proper equipment, too. There are horse-jumping poles specifically designed for jumping either made of wood or PVC, which are great for training exercises.
Final tips and advice
- Have confidence – When your horse is young give them a chance to learn and even watch other horses - in a ‘herd’, they will be more likely to copy good behaviour. If your horse does lose confidence for any reason during a jump session, simplify it by lowering the jump.
- Train hard – When starting off do trot jumps first because this teaches your horse to remain calm on his approach to fences, and for the first few months keep the jumps small. However, never let them refuse. If you do let them refuse, you’re teaching them to say no.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help – If you need to lower those horse jumps or change a grid, you need a helper on the ground. By the time you get off to change jumps and get back on the saddle your horse will have had too much time to think about the jumping.
Teaching your horse to jump can result in wear and tear – so try Vetrofen Intense, a targeted supplement that targets comfort and recovery in active horses, such as those who are training to jump.