If you ride a young or inexperienced horse, it’s important to build their jumping confidence slowly. If you lack jumping confidence yourself, this will help with that, too.
Leading British showjumper Jessica Mendoza’s advice is to keep things simple.
· Start with a small, simple fence such as an upright with an inviting groundline. This is an easy fence to read, which will give your horse confidence.
· Keeping your horse straight on the approach is more important than the height of the fence you’re jumping.
· Focus on straightness, using your legs to channel your horse’s body in a straight line. You may find your horse likes to take a wobbly line into his fences to begin with.
· Work towards landing with the correct leg leading by turning your body mid-air and looking towards the line you’ll be taking to your next fence.
· When your horse feels confident with the small upright, you can move onto a slightly bigger fence.
· Horses learn by repetition, so it’s important that with a young or novice jumper you repeat exercises regularly and correctly.
· Be mindful that young horses tire easily, so don’t overdo it. Build up your jumping sessions gradually and allow time to warm up and cool down properly.
Patience is very important when introducing something new – and for training horses in general. When things don’t go to plan, take a moment to examine what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. More often than not it will be down to your aids or position in the saddle that’s causing confusion.
TWO TOP TIPS:
1) Look up and ahead at where you want to go, it will really help to keep your horse straight.
2) Be sure to make a fuss of your horse when he’s done something really well – it will instil positive feelings around jumping.
Want to learn more about teaching a novice horse? Read the full article in issue 445, available here.
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