Tuesday 24 April 2018

Teach Me Tuesday: Intro to Jumping

Kachina is now boarded at a Hunter/Jumper barn. There are always jumps and poles in the arena and it keeps making me think about taking advantage them with Kachina. Dressage is definitely our primary discipline and that's not going to change, but I just want to play with obstacles a little as cross training. I'm not much of a jumper any more, but I used to jump a lot as a kid, and my lessons last year showed me that I haven't forgotten everything. However, I've never worked with a horse who was brand new to jumping before. What are the best beginner steps to take with Kachina?

Jumps, jumps, everywhere

Primarily, I am wondering three things:

1. Is it best to start working her over jumps on the ground (lunging, or free jumping), or from the saddle?
2. What style of jump is best to start? I will keep it low either way, but is X-rail or vertical better? Should I use placing poles?
3. What kind of leg protection should she be wearing, front and back (if any)? I don't generally use boots or polos for flat rides (she never interferes) but I feel like there will be some bangs in the learning process and I'm not sure how much I should protect the front of her legs.

Jumping lesson horse Sunrise last year
(yes I know I am jumping ahead, but I don't have media of better attempts)

There's a ton of things I could improve,
but despite almost 10 years of dressage, I still remember two-point

Relevant information:
- we've worked with trot poles and cavaletti in lessons before (but not frequently), Kachina doesn't always get the spacing right but she understands the basic concept and is game while still accepting influence
- In one cowboy challenge clinic we did a jump obstacle (a pole resting on top of 5 gallon pails), we went over it 5-6 times and while she knocked it over a couple times she always attempted the jump and came back easily afterwards. This is the most jumping we've ever done (and it was in a western saddle).
Cowboy Challenge clinic jump (left of photo)

- Kachina has jumped muddy creeks from a standstill while trail riding (not my choice)
- I've led her over some tiny jumps at a walk and trot since moving to this barn, she tends to bang it the first couple times but then trot over it cleanly, in this situation she will choose to high step over it instead of actually jumping.
- I do own an all purpose saddle that fit Kachina the last time I tried it, so I can either use that or just shorten the stirrups of my dressage saddle.
- the poles at the barn are a combination of wood and PVC, they are nicely rounded but are possibly on the heavier side and take a decent knock to push them out of the cups. There are both regular standards and those small triangular style ones with pole rests (which could be lunged over)
- there are a couple jumping instructors at the barn so I can and will get professional help, but I do want to come up with at least some elements of a plan first

Teach me please! Also, has anyone tried any Prix Caprilli tests? They seem to be getting more common up here and I may want to try one eventually


  1. I really love jump chutes for horses new to jumping. I think it allows them time to figure out their bodies and self-preservation without a rider impinging on them. Once they're going a bit I think that building up jumps, starting with poles on the ground, then and X, then a small vertical etc is the best way to build up their confidence. A placing pole in front can definitely help some find their footwork a little easier! I would try to stick to the wood poles for now, as the pvc can not only make a big noise if you hit it, but some horses learn that pvc comes down easily and they don't respect it! I always use woof boots for jumping.

  2. Agree with Niamh, jump chutes are great for getting them to learn to use themselves but if you don't have experience with it, it can get ugly fast. If you have high control lunging I would lunge her over raised cavalleti, a cross rail in general is more inviting to jump than a vertical. I put boots all the way around. I'd also consider working with a trainer if you don't have experience doing it yourself.