Beginner’s Guide To Training Your Horse To Jump

Whether you’re a newcomer to the world of horse-riding or an experienced rider looking for a new challenge, training your horse to jump can be an exciting time.

Almost every rider will face the occasional jump, whether out on a trail or in a class so learning how to take them in your stride is a valuable lesson for both you and your horse.

First things first

Firstly your horse needs to have good ground work established. A good jumping horse is balanced on the flat which enables them to be more balanced when jumping.

It’s also a good idea to make sure your tack is in good working order – a worn girth strap could impair your ability to perform a successful jump and even cause an injury to yourself or your horse.

A good tip to follow is to slightly shorten your stirrup leathers, especially when attempting higher jumps or performing at show jumping events.

Only attempt a jump if you feel comfortable

When you’re a beginner, even the smallest jump can look overwhelming. With this in mind, it’s important to understand that you don’t have to attempt every jump you come to. You should only ever attempt a jump if you feel 100% comfortable and confident as any feelings of uncertainty may rub off on your horse, making them more nervous and less likely to jump successfully.

Acquire a secure seat

As with any element of horse training, a secure seat is imperative. This should be maintained from a walk all the way up to a gallop and you should have sufficient practice in these basics before progressing to a jump. By perfecting a secure seat during normal riding you will be able to transfer these skills into jumps and ensure that both you and the horse take off from the ground and land safely.

Riding over poles

Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can then begin to ride over poles. You’ll usually begin with just the one pole and will start at a walk. Once you’ve mastered this, you’ll then attempt to walk over a line of poles, before moving onto a trot.

The final leap

Once you feel comfortable trotting over a number of poles, you’ll then attempt poles that are raised a small amount above the ground. Gradually teach your horse how to lift itself over these jumps by getting them to adopt a canter. The next step involves using a small cross rail – a jump that is just high enough to encourage your horse to jump as opposed to step over the rail.

When using this, always remember to keep your head straight (keeping your head down can affect your balance) and be sure to keep your seat securely in the saddle.

On landing, gently sit down and bring your hands back to a regular position.

Once you’ve mastered these tips, you’ll be able to increase the size of your jumps slowly. Before you know it, you’ll be entering into a number of competitions that show off your new skills.

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