Readers Write: Rushing at Jumps

Riding Questions

?Practical Horseman. All Rights Reserved.

“Although Belinda (my lease) will trot jumps with the patience of a saint — even landing at a trot when asked properly — she gets very excitable cantering up to a jump. I have had another riding friend watch us jump, and she used to ride Belinda consistantly in the past before I leased her. She comments that our approach is very good: Belinda is very round, on the bit, springy with her canter. Then, two or three strides before the fence, she suddenly stretches her neck down, breaks into a fast and flat canter, and loses all her form over the jump. It is very jarring to ride. I have been experimenting some … taking a long approach to a fence at a canter, then bringing her back down to a trot for the actual jump, or stopping her several feet back from the fence, then asking her to trot or canter it. This seems to be helping some, and while I understand that these things take patiance, I want to know if anyone has any better suggestions.” — Carrie

“Something you might want to try, on low schooling fences. Maintain your trot until you’re about 3 strides from the fence and then gently ask for the canter. If you have an independent seat and you might want to think about using an automatic release. For some reason crest releases are mostly what’s used “nowadays” (guess I’m showing my age). With an automatic release you have contact up to and through the jump. So you can steady the mare when she starts to get flat. You sound like a competent, thinking rider. It doesn’t sound like you’re doing anything that makes the horse want to “get it over with” — BriteHorse

“A real experienced and confident horse shouldn’t change a thing at any time on the approach to a simple fence. So, you’re seeing issues here besides just going from trot to canter. You need to assess if you are doing things different – a harder leg, leaning more forward, pulling hands, etc – to see if you are causing horse’s problem, but most likely, the horse is tense and not at ease with the work – or very bored with the routine of the work. Using focus poles and ground lines to make approach easier for the horse can aid get to the correct spot. In stead of experimentation, you need a solid plan – how she is to approach each fence, so she can learn to be consistent. Using ground poles in front of jumps and also narrowing the lane to focus to a spot aid in getting horse to place the feet – but it is the rider who has to be patient and not be tossed about – pulling on the face or landing on the back or coming down too soon. ” — Karice

“The only things I’d add are a couple of techniques from George Morris: Set a ground pole 9 feet from the jump (on the landing side). After a couple of times, the horse realizes she must balance up to get past that rail on the ground, and the jump itself is not the only focus. Also, do lots of gymnastics like bounce grids (spacing the jumps with no stride between them)… it’s impossible to dive through 3-4 bounce jumps! ” — Mags and Homer

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