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First jumps with a young horse - a few rules and tips

Published: 2016-04-20 13:39:52 Categories: Guides Rss feed

pierwsze skoki z młodym koniem background source:

We all know that training a young horse requires greater knowledge and skills than working with an already experienced steed. Young horse on the basis of his first experiences with a rider and every set task will develop a certain speed of reaction, obedience and trust towards human. It is dependant on you on which level will he develop each of this abilities. Of course, every animal has particular tendencies and traits that initially can hinder or simplify your job. However, it is up to you whether they become his pros or cons. For example: if the horse is very energetic and you will allow him to speed whenever he wants, then a "horse from a race track" will always be your problem. But if you would control his energy, you could make him perform each exercise dynamically, with full involvement, but at a pace set by you.

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Rule no.1: baby steps to achieve goal

That all gives you an immense power of influence on your horse - building positive, or on the contrary - negative reactions. Thus, it would be good for your training to be thought through. Try to stick to the "baby steps" rule, introducing classes of less intensity, providing your horse with a lot of time to comprehend new demands and abilities. Also, avoid monotony during trainings and try to make the horse leave the dressage arena satisfied that he met your expectations (successful training).

Rule no.2: first let him get to know

Before you start jumping with a young horse, first you should acquaint him with the obstacles. You have to approach the built envelope with the horse and let him sniff it. You can do it before riding, leading the horse in hand or sitting on his back in the beginning phase of training - relaxing.

Rule no.3: jump is the only way

During first jumps with your "rabbit" you should remember about the basic rule: there is no other way while approaching an obstacle than jump it. Your horse should learn the only solution from the beginning - jumping, not getting to know that he can stop or break before the obstacle. Thus, you have to be ready that this jump has to be performed every single time. It does not matter if you ride at a walk or if it is from a stop. You can perform first approaches with assist of a leading horse, behind whom your horse will move. Also remember that using your voice, especially with fearful horses is recommended - it will motivate them to jump over an obstacle.

When your horse gets to know the only right wat, he will find jumping pleasurable and do it willingly. Due to that he will not search for other solutions. Jumping will become something obvious for him, rather than necessary.

nauka skoków z młodym koniem source:

Rule no.4: only one obstacle

You have to start teaching from little obstacles that will not scare your horse and will not exceed his physical abilities. Planning the obstacle's height, you have to take into consideration jumping even from a stop. It is best to train on an envelope of 30-40 cm height. Slightly worse is a cavaletti, because the animal, on the basis of his previous experience, would try to walk above it.

Jump only one obstacle at a trot. Why? Because you need another ability while jumping at a canter - you need to be able to assess the take-off and you do not want to make the difficult new task even more difficult. Riding at a trot it would also be easier to control the approach's pace.

Koperta ze wskazówką i odkosami Envelope with pointer

To an arranged envelope you can add a pointer on the ground (put 30 cm ahead the obstacle). Additionally, V poles prove very useful - two poles arranged diagonally, while one end of a pole is leaning on the obstacle and the other is put on the ground.

Envelope is a perfect obstacle for teaching the horse how to jump, because the crossing poles set the centre of the obstacle, which involuntarily teaches the horse the right place of jumping - right through the middle. The envelope's front should be at least 3,50 m wide.

It is worth placing the obstacle in the exit direction, a few metres behind the corner and preferably by the fence - in such a way, the fence will play the role of one of the V poles. Such arrangement will naturally limit the horses from his sides and lead on the obstacle. Additionally, the corner's presence will not allow him to speed, and that will eliminate a few bad habits and mistakes that your horse might make while approaching the obstacle.

Jumping more than once one obstacle in the first phase of jumping training makes no sense. The horse is already pretty confused how to properly jump over one obstacle - more of them might only reinforce his fear and unwillingness. What does the "first phase of jumping training" mean? It is a relative concept - depending on the horse, it might take less or more time. To be more precise: it takes exactly as long as the horse needs to learn to jump without much thinking, cleanly and firmly.

By the way, it is worth paying attention to the fact that even experienced horses better fix their mistakes while jumping single obstacles (or ranks) rather than jumping the whole parkour. Why? It is very simple: jumping only one obstacle, we have time to think and analyse the mistakes before the next jump. What is more, we can take a break after each jump, due to which the horse will not tire so quickly, and we would be able to perform more repetitions.

Rule no.5: rider's body is the main teacher

Especially during first jumps, what the rider's body does has immense influence on the young horse. Your mistake might create negative associations for the horse. So remember to maintain a delicate contact with the horse's muzzle while jumping. In case the horse stops before the obstacle, which will force you to take-off from a stop or in case the horse tosses his head right before jumping, you have to quickly catch his mane or brace yourself against his neck. By doing so, you will prevent pulling the reins abruptly and you will maintain balance as such.

While jumping you should also try to slide your hands towards the crest, minding not to do it to quickly. If you give the reins away too early, the animal will feel like he is all alone. But your hand cannot be too "hard", namely stiff and not giving to the muzzle's pressure. Why? Because the horse has to know that you allow him to stretch over the obstacle, round his back and extend his neck.

skoki z młodym koniem Not giving the reins away and hand acting backwards cause lack of stretching, rounding the horse's back, and extending the neck. Source:

We jumped the envelope, now what?

After the phase of jumping the envelope at a trot, you can move on to another obstacles - still setting them at 30-40 maybe 50 cm (depending on how high your horse is), also using the pointer, V poles and setting them by the corner and fence. You can replace the envelope with straight rails. When your horse gets used to it, it is worth changing it for an oxer, of which the pointer should not be outthrust, placed right behind the first pole of the obstacle. What is more, it is good when two ends of the oxer are on the same level or when the other pole is set a hole higher than the first one.

In another stage of training, it is worth trying to arrange the obstacles in various places of the manege, slowly resigning from the V poles. After the phase of jumping over various obstacles you may introduce low ranks, still jumping at a trot.

Still, remember that you will not complete the "stages/phases" of training during one ride. It all depends on the horse. Give him as much time as he needs - so he would feel safe and the jumps over particular obstacles would not cause him any troubles.

First gymnastic rank

Behind a corner, on the long wall by the fence of manege, arrange three cavaletti for a trot (spacing: ca. 1,20-1,40 m). By doing so, you will hit their middle after riding on the long wall. Your horse should jump the cavaletti in both directions without speeding, riding at even pace. If you succeed at this, you can set an envelope at a distance of 2,20 m from the last cavaletti, arranging one more V pole (as the role of the other will play the arena's fence).

After a few jumps, you can place a pole on the ground at a distance of 3 m behind the envelope, over which your horse will perform the first jump at a canter. Then you can change the pole on an envelope and jump the rank 2-3 times. You can add one V pole to each of set obstacles from the middle of the arena.

młody-koń-szereg-2-koperty In another stages, you place the pole on the ground after the second envelope, again at a distance of 3 m, which next you replace with an envelope. Three obstacles in a rank is enough for a young horse. However, you can experiment by changing for example the second and third obstacles with straight rails, and change the last one with an oxer at the training's finish.


If your animal speeds up on cavaletti and jumps the first envelope too quickly, you should set some cavaletti on a turn, or make a shorter approach from a turn.

If your horse slows down, temporises or loses energy, it is worth trying to canter from a turn on the short wall to another turn, then shift to trotting and approach the cavaletti using energy possessed from the canter.

There is no one golden rule that would say how many times you can jump in a given combination, expanding the rank. It is assumed that 2-3 jumps should be enough before you can change/add another part, but it is not a rule. We would like to remind: every horse is another case. You cannot exhaust him physically - with too many jumps; and mentally - with monotony of the training. Your horse should finish the working phase satisfied = successfully performing the exercises.

After such training on the first rank, it is good to let your horse rest - even for 2-3 days before coming back to training on the obstacles.

nauka na szeregu source:

Further work on rank and line

The next step might be creating a rank (starting from cavaletti and envelope), but in a new configuration, which will allow to gently stretch your horse and manipulate his foules' length between the obstacles. Cavaletti or poles set between the obstacles will be helpful in assessing the foules for your horse.

In another stages you can try to arrange a well-known ranks in new places: on the manege's middle line and diagonals. Again, they should be built starting from three cavaletti and envelope.


Jumping at a canter

May jumping at a canter become the last phase of your training, right after higher ranks with cavaletti at a trot. Why? It will prevent losing even pace and speeding while approaching, but it will also help the horse to assess the take-off in a rank on his own, which will be useful for him later - while approaching the obstacles at a canter. After the ranks stage you can try to do the training once again (like at a trot), starting from a single envelope, but this time jumping everything at a canter. It is worth placing a pointer before an obstacle at a canter. In the last stage, you can also try jumping without a pointer.

skoki przez stacjonatę Jumping at a canter with pointer before the obstacle. Straight rails arranged by the fence with restraining V poles from the arena. The rider - too stiff hand, lack of "going" with his hands towards the crest. Source:

When to raise the obstacles?

Why have not we mentioned raising the obstacles yet? Because making them higher in the first training's stages makes no sense. First, let your young horse get used to jumping, shifting weight of the rider, and various types of obstacles in different places of the manege. Let him learn how to jump at a trot, then at a canter. Allow him to form proper jumping technique. Let him notice that he does not have to take a meter of margin before a 40 cm height obstacle :)

Raising the obstacles is the last stage, where all your horse has to do is strengthen his work above the obstacle, the work he already knows. The animal should feel physically ready to jump those obstacles with a rider on his back. Remember that jumping higher obstacles causes greater load on the horse's joints, especially during landing with the rider on his back. Thus, try not to rush this moment when you start jumping a meter high, or even higher, obstacles. Damage, which your young horse might get, will remain irreversible in its consequences.