Make that first jump count. That’s the first piece of advice I would like to give all the beginner riders. Let me explain the phrase better. Jumping with your horse is exciting and fun but at the same time, the first jump needs some practice. If you are on a horse for the first time, wait till you get a better hold. Beginners are often stressed and the nervousness will affect the horse in the wrong way. Also, your horse needs to understand the command and needs to be accustomed with you.
Here are some tips you must follow before starting to jump with your horse:
1. Be confident
Horses can sense your energy and are very sensitive animals. For beginners, it is very important to understand that perfection takes years. Your first hop doesn’t have to be perfect. You should be confident in yourself and comfortable with the horse. If you panic or try to rush things, there are multiple possibilities of accidents on the field. Listen to your trainer and take one step at a time.
2. Work on your position and body language
Before you try to jump, make sure you can communicate with your horse with the right body language when you are mounted. A good jumping position has immense significance. Every human being is different and so are the horses. Let your horse riding instructor guide you to the best position. Practice to keep a secure lower leg and spend time working at a shorter stirrup length. Work on your light seat or jump position to maintain your balance. Always do your light seat work or pole work in a jumping saddle.
3. Polish the Flatwork
Flatwork means learning to walk your horse and trotting on flat ground. Establish comfort and skill in your flatwork as both you and your horse need to have a solid foundation. So, walk, trot, and canter in circles before jumping. Introduce direction changing while flatwork practicing. Learn to take balanced turns. Let your horse be one with his rider.
4. Jump Over Ground Pole First
Beginner jumpers should always start with ground poles, that is a single jump rail that you can lay flat on the ground or a few inches off. This will help train your eyes to see distances and decide the correct take-off point to a jump. Count strides before jump to create a rhythm. The rhythm of your horse’s jumps is very crucial and you need to understand that pronto. With ground poles, you can create different exercises, such as courses, grids, circle work, combinations. Practice small obstacles first and please remember to relax and do not overwork your horse. Enjoy the exercises and your time with the horse.
5. Set a routine with counted strides
Once you have enough practice with ground poles, you will have a clear understanding about the jumping rhythm of your horse. You should develop the ability to count the strides needed before the jump in a certain “jumping course”. A jumping course is a synchronized sequence of fences arranged in a particular order. Trot with your horse, take turns and jump over the fences in a circular pattern within a particular time. Count how many strides it takes and try to repeat the same count with every lap. You might see a slight difference between the strides you have anticipated and the count of strides you actually end up with. Don’t panic! Let it be done naturally.
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