Horse and Pony Questions: Rushing the Jumps

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Horse and Pony Rushing Jumps
Photo by Skuker/Shutterstock

QUESTION: I’m taking jumping lessons on my horse. We were doing really well until recently. Now when we canter toward the bigger jumps, my horse suddenly gets very fast and pulls hard on the bit. It’s scaring me, but I don’t want to tell my trainer. What can I do to fix this problem of my horse rushing the jumps?

ANSWER: Never be afraid to tell your trainer that you’re uncomfortable or scared. When you’re honest, your trainer can design riding exercises to help you overcome your fears. First, however, your horse’s behavior must be changed.

ogoYoung Rider Magazine LogoA horse that charges to the jump and pulls on the reins against your hands is said to be “rushing the jumps.” That is an undesirable habit because you lack control. Without warning, the rusher could put on the brakes and refuse the jump, run out to the side, or leave from a dangerously long take-off spot.

Most horses rush due to anxiety. Sometimes the jump is too high for their level of training. Other times, it’s because they really haven’t learned how to canter over a jump. It’s like they aren’t really sure where to place their legs, so they just scramble over the jump in a panic.

Back to Basics

To retrain a rusher, go back to trotting low, easy jumps in your lessons. Make jumping as relaxing as possible, even ho-hum and boring. Never allow your horse to increase his pace or surge forward.

The moment you feel your horse rev up, pull him to a stop. It’s better for him to halt and pause for a few moments than to rush carelessly over the jump. Occasional unexpected halts will also keep your horse focused on you rather than zeroing in on the jump.

While your horse is being reschooled, have your trainer evaluate your riding. Without realizing it, you may be teaching your horse to rush. As you approach a jump, you could be grabbing with your heels or driving your horse forward with too deep of a seat.

It’s important to keep a soft, steady position all the way to the jump. Take your time so that you and your horse can enjoy the process of learning to jump safely!

Send Young Rider your horsey health and training questions, and they could appear in the magazine. Email us at editor@youngrider.com.

This article about a horse rushing the jumps appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!

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Cindy Hale
Cindy Hale’s life with horses has been filled with variety. As a child she rode western and learned to barrel race. Then she worked as a groom for a show barn, and was taught to harness and drive Welsh ponies. But once she’d taken her first lessons aboard American Saddlebreds she was hooked on English riding. Hunters and hunt seat equitation came next, and she spent decades competing in those divisions on the West Coast. Always seeking to improve her horsemanship, she rode in clinics conducted by world-class riders like George Morris, Kathy Kusner and Anne Kursinski. During that time, her family began raising Thoroughbred and warmblood sport horses, and Cindy experienced the thrills and challenges of training and showing the homebred greenies. Now retired from active competition, she’s a popular judge at local and county-rated open and hunter/jumper shows. She rides recreationally both English and western. Her Paint gelding, Wally, lives at home with her and her non-horsey husband, Ron.

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