Jumping can be one of the most highly anticipated aspects of horse riding, and one which many novice riders are keen to try. But what are the steps horse and rider should take before jumping? The team at Equi-est have put together our top tips to make sure that jumping is a fun experience all round.
1. Only jump if you want to
Learning to ride can be daunting, but each achievement should be rewarded for both rider and horse. There’s no time limit on when you start cantering, using trotting poles or jumping; it’s entirely up to you. Moreover, make sure you’re learning to ride with the right horse. Again, there’s no definite answer about what horse is best for you; you may find learning to ride on a 16hh ex-racer easier than a cob who’s mostly used to hacking. However, generally, a green horse will only hinder your learning so make sure you’re riding a horse or pony which has some experience behind it.
2. Practice makes perfect
As with anything, the more time you dedicate to learning the basics of jumping the easier and more successful the end result will be. Use trotting poles to help you learn to keep your pace steady and balanced. There are many different exercises you can do with trotting poles and it’s always best to ask your instructor about the ones which are best suited to your riding ability and horse. Remember, just like us, horses need time to warm up before they jump successfully. Therefore, spend at least 15 minutes walking, trotting and cantering before attempting to jump.
3. Keep a steady pace
You’ll probably start jumping with a low cross rail, in which case it’s OK to try trotting over the jump at first. Concentrate on keeping a steady pace, approaching at the centre of the jump and looking ahead. As your confidence grows you can begin to canter. However, it’s really important that you don’t slow or ask your horse to stop before the jump as it can inadvertently encourage your horse to start to refuse jumps. If you think that your horse is going to spook at the jump, try riding in several 20 metre circles in front of it so that he/she becomes more familiar with the fence. After the third or fourth circle, your horse should be able to pop the jump without a problem.
4. Don’t allow your horse to get lazy
After jumping a fence, don’t allow your horse to slow to a walk. Instead, keeping cantering or trotting until you’re well away from the jump. Not only will this encourage your horse to not get complacent after jumping, it’s also good practice for when you begin to start jumping a course. If you’re using cross-rails, try jumping it from different directions. As well as keeping you on your toes, it will keep your horse from getting bored too!
5. Make sure you’ve got the right surface.
Using the wrong kind of equestrian surface, or one which is not in good condition, can hinder the performance of your horse. At equi-est we supply a range of menage, arena and gallops services that are designed with you and your horse in mind. We supply Equi-All in one fibre only equestrian surface, a unique equestrian surface designed for all riding disciplines. Want to find out more? Get in contact with us today!