Top 3 Jumping Mistakes

Three things riders do that can cause their horse to refuse at the base of the jump.


Bad spots aren’t the only cause of refusals. Here are three more jumping mistakes that could put the brakes on your jumping: Riding the wrong track; losing your position; and lack of commitment.

Horse refusing a jump

Riding the Wrong Track:

One of the first jumping mistakes that are made is riding the wrong track. A course of jumps is really just a flatwork pattern consisting of lines and half-circles (turns). Keep that in mind as you ride the track, or path, to each jump. Ragged approaches that lack a sense of purpose or which inadvertently steer your horse toward the jump standards invite refusals.

Losing Your Position:

A very common jumping mistake is losing your position over the jump. The act of getting left behind punishes the horse for jumping. After getting banged in the mouth repeatedly, most horses refuse in protest.

If you’re frequently left behind, concentrate on perfecting the classic two-point position combined with a simple crest release. Then put them to work over ground poles and cross-rails until both are automatic.

Lack of Commitment:

Do you stop riding at the base of the jump? Without realizing it, you may canter boldly to a jump in a confirmed half-seat and then, at the last moment, sit deep in the saddle and pull your leg away from your horse’s side.

Though you may feel more secure by hunkering down like this, you’ve actually told your horse to stop. If you’ve developed this jumping mistake, then address it. If you’re fearful of getting hurt, or lack trust in your horse’s willingness to jump, share these concerns with your riding instructor or trainer. She can lower the jumps to your comfort level and focus on improving your confidence.

This article originally appeared in the April 2019 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!

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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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