Conquering horse jumps is often an intimidating venture for your horse. However, with these simple steps, some time and patience your horse will learn how to jump like a pro.
First things first, your horse must learn to walk before he can fly. Set up some ground poles about 2-3 footsteps apart and have your horse examine and smell the poles. You want to make sure that he is comfortable with them before he attempts to walk over them. After he has been given the time to investigate, put a saddle on him and warm him up, away from the poles. Once he is nice and warm, dismount him and walk him over the poles a few times until he is comfortable with the footing and gets used to the sound that the poles make when he hits them. Once he realizes that this is no big deal you may mount him again. Walk him over the poles a few times, praising him every time he successfully completes this. Next, move the poles about 4-5 footsteps apart and trot him over the poles. Once he is comfortable with this, move the poles 7-8 footsteps apart and canter him over the poles. Repeat this until he is completely comfortable with this task.
Next is time to test the waters with a single cavaletti. Set up the small jump and then warm up your horse next to it. Once your he is comfortable passing the horse jump, it is time to get into gear. Make sure that you are at a reasonably paced trot and align your horse correctly so that he knows that you want him to go over the jump. Often times, horses will try to side step the jump, however you need to stay persistent and praise him every time that he jumps over it. He will eventually understand what you want from him.
Once he is comfortable going over this jump, it is time to introduce slightly higher jumps. You can either continue to use a cavaletti or you can set up cross rails. If you decide on a jump with stands, make sure that your horse gets used to passing them first before you attempt to jump. Once your horse is confident, you may take him over the jump several times. Remember to praise him every time.
As your horse gets more confident, you can increase the height of the jump and eventually canter your horse over them. Once he develops confidence with one jump, you may set up a simple course involving two or three jumps. Allow him adequate room in between each one and give him as much praise as possible every time he successfully goes over a jump. As he becomes more proficient in jumping, you may play around with the difficulty level, however it is important to take gradual steps.
Only time will tell when your horse is ready to move to the next step in their jumping training. Do not get frustrated, impatient, or move too fast because it can become dangerous for both you and your horse. It is not appropriate to move on to the next step until your horse is confident with the previous one. Additionally, your horse may need a refresher course every so often. Just because he is confident one day does not mean he will be confident the next day. Take this training day-by-day and remember to adequately praise him. If you have any questions feel free to contact us.