Show jumping trainer, Carol Mailer, gives her top tips to prevent your horse from bouncing on the spot and refusing at fillers.
If your horse bounces on the spot when slowing down to a fence, the first thing to sort out is the safety issue – it’s no good having a brilliant jumper if he bounces you out of the saddle.
As soon as he starts bouncing, try standing in your stirrups and let your joints, hip, knee and ankle absorb the bounce so your top half stays balanced and safe. You will be far safer if your weight is well into the stirrup rather than plonked down on the saddle so any little bounce throws you up into the air.
The stopping at fillers tells me he’s got into the habit of pleasing himself instead of co-operating with you. The secret is in pushing him into a supporting and effective contact so all his energy is gathered and he starts to work forward instead of bouncing on the spot.
If he is a brilliant jumper, once he’s obedient to your leg aids, the refusals should be a thing of the past. Of course, it seems crazy to push a horse who is already going too fast or bouncing on the spot, but more consistent pushing will not make him go any faster, he’s already doing that.
If you have to change the bit to harness all that energy more consistently, then you must try it. I’d recommend the Dutch gag (or bubble bit or three ring – I’ve heard it called all of these) and I’d also recommend using my own design of bridging rein which helps enormously and stops your horse pulling the reins through your hands. Check out www.mailerbridgingrein.co.uk.
Make sure you recognise that, with better brakes to steady him, you must use more leg. As well as feeling safer and being able to pull up, being able to brake will make your legs more effective, too.