Question of the Week: Beware the Blast-Off


Horse jumping a crossrailQ: My horse is a young Thoroughbred I recently adopted from a rescue site. I’ve started him over low jumps, and his hind end seems very overpowering when he soars over them. I feel like he’s pushing me out of the saddle. Is this just his style of jumping or am I doing something wrong?

A: While some athletic horses do indeed jump with an extra amount of exuberance with their hind end, that’s not often the case. Many green horses over-jump an obstacle due to fear or anxiety. Rather than blasting off any more than necessary to clear a jump, your horse needs to remain relaxed and confident so he can think through the physical process of jumping. Until he understands how to utilize his body correctly, your horse may be jumping in a style that forces him to drop his front legs rather than rotating his shoulder up and bending his knees. That can sometimes give a rider the sensation of being tossed out of the saddle, because the horse’s hind end is flipping upwards while the front end is dropping downward.

Trotting to the base of many, many low jumps and working slowly over cavaletti and simple gymnastic exercises should help your horse use his body more efficiently. Also, make sure you have a knowledgeable person on the ground who can “spot” your horse’s jumping efforts. They should raise the jumps only when your horse is jumping in a calm manner with correct technique. As you’ve learned, it’s nearly impossible to fine-tune a horse’s jumping style in the saddle. Every rider needs a pair of eyes on the ground when it comes to working with a green horse.

–Cindy Hale

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