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Jumping Exercises for Green Horses

green horse jumping outdoors

Even the world’s best showjumpers had to learn the basics of riding before going near a jump, and the same applies to young green horses. You should first exercise green horses with dressage work and pole training, then advance to jumping training with cavaletti exercises and cross poles. Later, vertical jumps and oxers can be used, but it’s all about patience and progression with green horses.

With a sensibly structured training plan, you’ll have your horse jumping like a pro in no time.

Jump Exercise Foundations

Colourful obstacle material should be the first part of the training. When the basic dressage work is so well established that the horse diligently and evenly approaches the rider’s hand in all 3 basic gaits on a straight and curved line from back to front.

The horse must react without hesitation to slight thigh pressure and allow itself to be slowed down or parried at any time. It is also an advantage if the horse responds well to the rider’s voice. If the horse is already reasonably balanced, it will be much easier to jump. The balance is also further strengthened through varied jumping training.

The horse should have its first contact with poles, jumps and various obstacle materials as early as possible. My suggestion: during the daily work, ride at a walk, trot and canter, making large and small turns around jumps. This not only gives the horse gymnastics, but also quickly loses its shyness of the colourful jumps.

This makes it much easier to get started in show jumping, as the horse is much more relaxed. However, should it happen that an obstacle scares a horse particularly badly, there are different opinions. I simply show the horse the scary obstacle from the ground at the beginning so that it quickly loses its fear of it. Then I approach the exciting jump first on a large circle. Keep in mind, pressure creates counter-pressure.

The gallop is always in a light seat, while the rider can relieve the horse’s back to varying degrees. The young horse learns to become faster and more dynamic in the hind leg through frequent changes of pace in the gallop.

As soon as a green horse has established itself in its dressage training, the first pole work is on the agenda. Ground poles or even better Cavalettis have proven particularly useful at the beginning of jumping training.

Take care, as unsecured bars can roll away, the horse could step on them and get injured. A young or green horse is first loosened and warmed up before starting with a single pole in the walk. In the best case, the horse is ridden on a long rein with a slight connection to the horse’s mouth.

The contact between the rider’s hand and the horse’s mouth is important to give the young horse security. However, the horse should still have enough freedom to balance itself out and deal with the new task.

In the beginning, the poles are ridden at a walk, then at a trot. Up to 4 poles can be completed in a row, it is important to keep the appropriate distances for the horse (step: 80cm to 1m), (trot: about 1.10m to 1.30m) and in (gallop: about 2.40m to 3.50m) to be observed. The distance between the bars in the different gaits depends of course on the size of the horse and its scope. The bars provide an even rhythm and thus stabilize the beat. The assessment is trained and the balance improves, thus the ideal preparation for the prospective showjumper.

Young green horses are usually clumsy when they first jump over an obstacle, so it is important that the horse can concentrate on its movement and jumping technique without destruction.

You want the horse to enjoy jumping and feel comfortable from the get-go. That’s why you do the first jumps at a quiet time of the day when it’s not that busy. Green horses are usually very sensitive to their surrounding, as with this bing their first time jumping, you don’t want to put them off as the next exercise session will be harder.

It’s a good idea to start with a low cross (around 70cm). Ideally, you use safety stands for this, if you don’t have one at hand you can also place poles on the ground to the left and right of the stands to limit them. This acts as a guide to channel the horse to the jumping poles.

The crossed poles form the lowest point of the obstacle in the middle. As a result, the horse learns from the start target and overcome a jump in the middle. An old saying from my grandfather was always: a clever horse always looks for the lowest point to jump.

A slightly advanced take-off bar prevents the horse from getting too close to the obstacle. A little tip from me: I always jump the first jumps with a young horse in the direction of the exit, the young horses are often more motivated as a result.

The first jump is started at the trot, as most young horses can balance themselves much better at the trot. This gives them more time to sort themselves before the jump because a trot is shorter than a gallop. I would do the first jumps without a front bar, as this could confuse the horse. If the novice jumper has overcome a few crosses, a trot-holding pole (distance approx. 2.20m – 2.50m) m before the jump can help to improve the take-off distance. It is important that the rider should disturb the horse as little as possible.

The rider should be able to compensate for uncomfortable movements through his seat. Over the jump, it is important that the rider gives his hand enough so that the horse can balance itself well and arch its back (bascule). After each obstacle, it is very important to praise the horse.

After the trot, an attempt is made to approach the obstacle at a canter; first without, later with a projection bar (distance to the jump approx. 3m). Important is the steady rhythm and a diligent basic pace. You shouldn’t overtax the young horse, I usually do 3 repetitions and take long breaks in between so that the young horse can think about what it has just done. As soon as the horse has learned about poles and has mastered the first jumps, you can start with simple gymnastic series so that the young horse gains more jumping experience.

The purpose of a series is to exercise the horse, to promote its reaction, to train its eye and also to give the rider the feeling of movement over a jump. The height of the individual obstacles in the row is not decisive but should encourage a jump. Obstacles that are too low could result in the horse just walking over them or tripping.

This way of training has a multitude of advantages for the horse, it gains coordination, which leads to a more flexible approach and thus a better jumping technique. The horse improves its take-off, which also becomes more symmetrical.

A green horse in jump training will build muscle, especially in the chest and abdomen. Possible weaknesses can be identified and thus better corrected (e.g. a horse that always jumps or lands too far to the right or left of the obstacle). The ideal height of the obstacles and the width of the oxer can be determined for the horse

Riders And Green Horse Training

Advantages for the rider get a better overview of the steps between the obstacles since everything is standardized to the centimetre, so he gains security. He learns a controlled approach, which is ideal for riders who like to push too much when approaching a jump.

He learns to get soft but steady support when riding the obstacles, consciously perceives the aids and gains a certain routine. The rider gains confidence with regard to the height of the obstacles since the conditions for starting in a line is significantly better than with a single obstacle. He works on his position and balance on close jumps.

Always ensure your horse is fitted with a jumping specific saddle so that the horse – and rider – are comfortable. It’s also a good idea to use stirrups designed for jumping when training a green horse as they will help keep you balanced and safer should there be any falls.

Irrespective of the fact that distances can vary depending on the space the horse has, the following common distances between bars or jumps apply: At a walk, 70cm to 1 m, at a trot 1.20 m to 1.30 m, a canter stride counts between 3 m and 3.50 m Jumps with a distance of 3 m to 3.50 m do not allow for a canter stride in between and are called in-out because the horse has to jump off again immediately after landing.