Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Jumping (Not Intentionally)

Raised cavaletti grid

Regulars of this blog may remember that Spider came to me as a "soured" jumper.  His sourness was confirmed the first winter I owned him, when we had to share an indoor with a Hunter trainer.  She would set up jumps in the indoor once a week, and Spider would come unglued anytime we had to work around them.  As soon as he saw the jumps his entire body would tense.  If we got too close to them he would begin balking and spinning.  It was clear that he wanted nothing to do with the jumps.

Over the years, I've occasionally tried to put him over a jump, always with the same result, a complete refusal.  I never pushed it, seeing as he's a dressage horse now and I don't really know how to jump anyway.

A few months ago he surprised me by jumping over a log while on the trail.  Since then, I've been letting him jump the log whenever we go on trail rides.  There's no pressure, no arena, and he seems to enjoy it.

So, a few weeks ago I had set up my raised cavaletti grid for Spider to trot through.  He decided to jump them instead.  Annoyed, I put him back through the grid, and he jumped through again.    I put him through several more times and he jumped through every single time.  He also got more and more enthusiastic about it every time.

Now, he has always had a slight tendency to jump cavaletti, but usually we work it out and he trots through like he's supposed to.  It's not like they're that high, even though he jumps like they are.  Plus, I have a tendency to accidentally bang him in the face with the bit when he jumps unexpectedly, which usually is a good hint that maybe I don't really want him to jump.  But on this particular day, he was not taking my hints.

Finally, I just gave up on trying to get him to trot nicely through.  I figured the main point of cavaletti work is to get the horse to pick up its feet, and Spider was certainly doing that!  I also noticed that his canter was quite nice after all the jumping.  And then I got an idea.

But, first I needed to make a jump........


  1. Hi, I just found your blog! :) Sounds like you had quite the time working through that yesterday... Sometimes you've just got to quit while you're ahead, I completely understand... haha :)
    Dressage is also my passion, however, I also jump! I cannot say I am an "eventer" though, since even though I have been to many events (only at the intro level...) my horses have all been green and I haven't gotten very far. I just got a new horse and she is the first horse I've had that seems to enjoy dressage, or at least put up with it for me... I can't wait until we start more seriously working on it (with lessons and such).
    Come check out my blog at www.myponyamerica.blogspot.com. :)
    I'll be waiting to see what this jump creation leads to...

    1. Welcome! And thanks for the link! I always enjoy finding new blogs to read!

  2. If you do make---or already have made--that jump, then put the rails on the ground in front of it so Spider can trot up to your "fence." It will be good for him, and good for you to get your seat where it belongs and your rein release when you do go over the jump. The last thing you want to do is bang him in the mouth when you really want him to jump.

    It's great if he's cured of his "jumpphobia." That is proof to you that your riding and training has made a huge difference in his mental well being. Congratulations!!

    1. It has been made, and successfully jumped over. By successfully, I mean that I stayed on and we didn't knock it over. And I only banged him in the face once, when he got really excited and jumped over it like it was four feet tall.

      However, I did not put any rails on the ground in front of it. This is a good idea. But, I don't know what the spacing should be. How far from my jump should the rails be?

  3. Can't wait to see this jump ....

  4. ^-^ Will you go to jumping instead of dressage then? *smirking*

    I am glad Spider is happy to jump, it shows that you have a great relationship with him, and that he trusts you.

    Also he is a male so tell him don't jump, and he will jump. Then when you will ask him to jump, he won't ... Reverse psychology ^-^

  5. Oh neat. Spider must trust you immensely to offer his jumping talents after going on strike. I wonder what he had to endure before he met you. I am glad that is behind him.

    Harley likes to jump. Dressage is my passion, but we jump small things to mix it up sometimes. Logs seem to be an enticing natural obstacle!

  6. Sounds like you have a great new training tool! Spider has obviously developed a great bond with you, to get over such a phobia. Should make training and trail rides more fun. Good stuff.
    Thanks for the detailed feedback on my last post. I'm going to use the 'head turning' technique next time I ride.


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