Q: My mare is forward and willing when we’re jumping, but on the flat she’s developed a bad attitude. Much of the time she ignores my leg, so I carry a crop. But if I use it, she bucks. If I still press her forward, she’ll sometimes rear. I’ve tried changing her routine and giving her time off. I even had my vet rule out any soreness or hormonal mare issues. None of this has helped. Could I be doing something that’s irritating my horse?
Before you come to your own conclusions, ask a community riding instructor or an experienced, knowledgeable friend to watch you ride and give you an objective evaluation. Then, once you’ve addressed these issues, meld your flatwork with your jumping. Lay ground poles around your arena and trot and canter over them. While you’re cantering circles as part of your flatwork, cruise over a low, simple jump and then continue around the arena. Finally, don’t misinterpret your mare’s “forward” mindset over jumps for enthusiasm. She could be rushing over the jumps due to anxiety and fear. However, if you keep your requests clear, reward her good behavior, and keep your flatwork interesting by infusing it with jumping concepts, you should see a change in your mare’s attitude.
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