9 Tips for Better Jumping with Your Horse

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Hunter Show Horse

Here are some basic philosophies to keep in mind when jumping:

  • Build confidence from the start. Never test a young horse’s courage over fences; give him a chance to learn how to be brave in the first place. For example, one famous Olympic-level event horse wouldn’t jump into water as a youngster. He wasn’t timid; he simply didn’t understand what he was being asked to do.
  • Start any jumping session with a review of flatwork basics. Warm your horse up properly on the flat, and check that he moves promptly forward and back from your aids at all three gaits before you start jumping.
  • Always use an experienced lead horse when you’re introducing a new jumping concept. Horses are herd animals. Let a youngster see his wise old buddy do it first, and he’ll think it’s OK, too.
  • Trot jumps first. Trotting will pay off in spades down the road. Trotting teaches your horse to remain calm on the approach to his fences and encourages him to rock back on his hocks and jump correctly.
  • Never give your horse the option of refusing. For the first several months of your horse’s jumping training, keep the jumps so small that he can go over them from a standstill. If your horse questions a jump, never let him turn away and reapproach the fence. If you allow this, you’re teaching your horse how to say no. Instead, quietly keep your leg on, for as long as it takes, until your horse can hop over the jump from a halt or walk.
  • Go with your horse, however green his effort. Green horses jump in all sorts of awkward ways. Make sure you reward your horse’s endeavor by following him in the air with your upper body and arms, even if he jumps from a standstill. Be ready to grab mane or hang onto a neck strap, which you shouldn’t be shy about using. If you catch your horse in the mouth as he attempts to jump, you’ll quickly teach him that this game is not fun.
  • Train progressively. Let’s say you progress to a three-element grid one day. Great. But the next time you do grid work, start again with one element and gradually build to three. Begin cantering jumps another day? Terrific. But trot jumps as a warm-up the next time you jump, then try cantering. Review the steps you’ve learned before you go on.
  • If you get into trouble, make it low and simple. If your horse loses confidence for any reason during a jump session, don’t take a chance. Quickly lower the jump or simplify the question.
  • Find a ground person to help you. Just in case you need to lower 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, your horse will have had way too much time to think about whatever is worrying him.

Liked this article? Here are others on jumping your horse:

Stop Runouts and Refusals


Exercise Your Way to an Effective Approach


Showing Jumpers


Improve Your Hunt Seat Equitation

55 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t like the “don’t let the horse reassess the jump” tip. If a horse is afraid, he should be allowed to figure it out in his skeptical, panicaholic, and chlostrophobic brain!

  2. how do you keep your balance when landing a jump?
    last time i tried to land i nearly fell over the front of my my horse, and landed on the neck!
    i take lessons but my trainer has never tought me how to keep balance.
    help!

  3. Dont be nervous, becasue if you are then you horse will feel it and refuse the jump. So stay calm,sit up straitght,don’t get ahead of your horse,don’t look down,keep your hands up (but not too high) and just have fun!

  4. Thanks.My four year old green arabian is kind of crazy with the jumping.He canters up, stops, then vaults himself over it.This article helped me stay in motion with him.

  5. my tips for jumping if your a boy and you like ridding your bike and jumpingwithit, you should think…… you know how you have to stick your but out in bike jumping like 2-point in horse back ridding. think your jumping on a bike but horse back is much better!!!

  6. You should practice jumping fences at an angle, especially if you show in the jumper ring because in jump-offs you can save lots of time.

  7. i love how you all have a difrent look at jumping it gives girl/boys a variaty of ways to look at it.one thing is never give up or your horse will give up too.

  8. Very good jumping tips. It’s always good to build slowly but surely on your jumping skills. To take your time and be patient so you’re not rushing into it. You’ll soon find it’s a lot better than skipping a lot of important concepts to it. ^_^ Thanks for the tips. I was hoping there’d be an article on jumping a course and tips on how to do it for beginners. Not just how to memorize it but how to ride a course well for first timers because that would be greatly appreciated. And maybe some articles on indentifying distances between jumps and tips on how to count strides in between jumps to better your jumping skills over jumps and in the show ring!

  9. Thanks, this is GREAT tips!
    I am training a TB that has great potential, he can be a bit nervous about jumping sometimes, but he comes around!
    Today, we were jumping a Barrel Jump, and he Trotted up to it, then slowed to a stop, he sniffed the jump, and then took it with no encouragement from me!
    Then he took an Oxer right after that with few problems! I was so proud of him!
    So these are great tips, I will keep these in mind when I’m training him!
    Thanks so much HorseChannel!!!

  10. thanks for the tips! have a baby coming along who looks like she has the talent for jumping the tips will help her alot:) thanks

  11. Great,And don’t be ashamed because you’re not jumping 5ft jumps within a month! Jumping takes time,its about jumping WELL,not jumping HIGH.

  12. I just started jumping this week and these rules are a great way to prepare me for the next show season. hanks again.

  13. Thanks for the tips! I’ll definitely put them to use when I jump this weekend. Hopefully my horse takes to them well. He should though because I’ve been jumping him for almost two years.

  14. the last parigraph is complete rubbish non of it is true if a horse is scared you simple walk it round then keep going at the jump until it does it!

  15. This is very helpful but it is all information about the horse. It would be better if you actually gave tips to the rider on how he/she can develop a better jumping technique.

  16. makes no sense? I am a beginning jumper and training for olympics and i need tips for my not my already perfect (to me) pony.

  17. i am yraining my own horse and this was VERY useful information! thank you… i am feeling a lil defeated after our last practice but this makes me realize i need to keep gocussing on basics as i advance.

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