Everyone has to start somewhere and if you are new to jumping, or even if you want to pick up some useful advice, have a read of our latest blog to help you get started in the arena with our top show jumping tips…
If you have never jumped before, always enroll the assistance of a professional riding instructor to help you gain your confidence.
- Before you think about jumping a fence it is important to ensure your horse is responsive to your aids and in front of your leg. This means that when you ask for an increase in stride length he responds, and equally when you ask for him to slow down or re-balance that he waits for your command.
- When learning how to show jump, don’t forget flatwork– this is just as important when jumping as it is for dressage. In order to show jump well, a horse must be able to engage his back end, which means that working on power and strength is imperative. Transitions and lateral work – such as leg yield, shoulder in and half pass are all beneficial as show jumping exercises.
- Make sure your stirrups are the correct length. Your heels should be anchored down, your knee should be bent and your lower leg should feel secure and steady in your saddle. This will allow you to keep stable and bring your seat out of the saddle and your hands forward in a safe and secure way when over a fence.
- Learning to jump on a horse takes patience and time. You need to learn to give with your hands and allow the horse to stretch over a fence – but without throwing your hands away completely. Think about rubbing your knuckles up both sides of his neck as he goes over the fence to prevent any sharp jerks on his mouth, but equally help you stay in balance and secure.
- Practice your position even when you aren’t jumping a fence. During horse jumping training, start by working on it when you are stood still on your horse – ideally in front of a mirror, with a friend or under the watchful eye of a trainer. Doing this at halt, and then eventually in walk, trot and canter, will help you develop the strength and balance before you tackle a fence. Once you have established this you can practice over poles and gradually build up to fences.
- A common occurrence is for your lower leg to swing backwards when your horse jumps a fence – however this can put you out of balance, which in turn can unsettle your horse and encourage faster pace. Think about your weight being down into your heels, your lower leg staying in place and your upper body allowing the horse to flow over the fence. With your lower leg in a secure place you can simply sit back in the saddle after the jump and be ready for the next obstacle.
- Counting strides into a fence will help you prepare for the jump but can take some practice. Try not to dwell on counting too much, rather focus on the rhythm of the pace as you approach the fence. Putting canter poles in front of a small fence can help you work on rhythm and balance as you approach a jump.
- Before you jump a course of show jumps try placing show jump poles around your arena and work on rhythm and balance over a pattern of poles. Think about your turns, the quality of the pace and straightness over each pole. Gradually then you can introduce smaller fences and build up to working over longer courses.
- Grid work is an excellent way of helping to work on your position and establish a good rhythm. In addition, grid work is an excellent way to help your horse gymnastically, as well as work on straightness and strength.
- Don’t forget to have fun when you are jumping! Learning to jump horses is an exciting new exercise to learn that both you and your horse can enjoy together!
Do you have any show jumping tips? Share them with us in the comments below or on our Facebook page.