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Hello. I was wondering if you could help me with my horse.

I only got her about 3 weeks ago and she is fine when I am grooming her and riding on the roads. It's just when I want to go over a few jumps; she turns her bum at it and then she spins around and tries to rush the jump. If I try to hold her back and shout at her, she rears up.

Soon I think I'll loose my confidence with her, but I don't want to.

Please help me.

- C. B.


Thanks a lot for your very interesting question! I'm afraid my experience with jumping is rather limited... if a horse I'm riding goes airborne, it usually means I'm in big trouble! Therefore, I asked my friend (and an experienced jumper), Amy Holmes, to answer your question.... 

Amy HolmesFirst, here are some questions I'd ask the horse owner: Issues: Not knowing this horse's tendencies and past experience, we'll assume she's acting this way out of fear. (Even confusion over your aids can put a horse in a tizzy -- especially Thouroughbreds and hotter horses.) Horses with back or tooth pain generally STOP at jumps and probably wouldn't be as likely to rear, though rushing can sometimes come from the anticipation of the pain of jumping with back pain.

I'm assuming some things in this scenario:

In any of these cases it's super important to stop trying to jump her and begin her re-training from the basics so she can build up the confidence needed.

Begin with one pole on the ground and ask her to walk over it, back and forth 20 or so times. This is only productive if she walks over it relaxed.

Be sure you do not hold her mouth at all before, during or after the pole (i.e. very light contact). Let her march over it with a steady, even, forward tempo; stretching down just a bit to see the pole if she wants. Keep her straight and over center of the pole, guiding with legs, not hands.

Having standards on either side will eliminate potential runout problems. After she has accepted this exercise in a relaxed frame, then add a pole or two spaced about 2 to 2-1/2 feet apart (based on her comfortable walking stride).

Continue as before every day until she's accepting this exercise in a relaxed and fairly forward manner.

Keep in mind that this could take weeks or even months. Whatever experience she had must have been pretty scary to her and the best thing you can do is patiently repeat this exercise over and over until she's very confident in her own ability and in your hands -- knowing they won't hold her back or harm her mouth when asked to go over the pole.

The next step is to begin a trot over one ground pole, using some guidelines as before (use a long, straight approach).

Never ask her for more than what she appears comfortable with (i.e. stay with step 3 for a month or so if that's what it takes to build her confidence and trust).

The fourth step would be to trot her back and forth across three poles, on the ground as before. Stay with this step until she can trot through relaxed and confident.

This may seem painfully slow, but your patience and repetition will pay off.

When she's crossing the poles at a trot quietly -- without any rushing or balking -- then have a trainer or friend raise the pole to about 3" or so off the ground. Trot over it, back and forth, with a very light contact on her mouth. If you hold her mouth before the jump or use her mouth to support yourself over the fence, she may get defensive, nervous, or panicky and tend to rush or refuse.

The horse has to have confidence that you won't hurt her mouth or hold her back when asking her to go forward and jump. And trying to jump a scared horse (or scaring one over the fence) will never produce the safe, confident, steady jumper you want.

Always work your way up to the next height or jump in small steps that build confidence as you go. If she starts showing fear at any point, go back a step and work at that place for a while.

Happy Jumping!

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