April 7, 2011

Canter Poles

Ever since Sunday's experiment with ground poles I can't stop thinking about taking Rose over an ex. She's ready for it. For little jumps. Nothing big, nothing demanding, not until next summer when she turns five. Basically, I want to know that she can jump a log before we come across one on a trail this summer.

How I set up my canter poles. The standards are just there
for Rose to get used to going through them.
When I'm starting a horse over fences I like to know two things (and a few more...see Side Note below):

A. That the horse can get over a jump. This was confirmed on a couple occasions by longeing Rose over a small ex turned vertical.

B. That the horse will go over ground poles willingly. This was confirmed by practicing trotting over poles, then cantering over individual poles. Once I achieve nice straight willing gates over the center of the poles (no trying to bow-out) it is time to move on to the next step.*

Working on point B, I decided tonight that I would take Rose through a set of canter poles, to see if she could put her distances together and figure out where her feet went. The results were stellar, and quite honestly, if anyone had been at the barn tonight, toward the end I would have made a little ex and popped her over it at the trot a couple of times. Alas, I was all alone. At least I got video though, so enjoy!

*Side Note & Mini-rant: Getting a green horse to the point that they are ready to go over a jump requires a lot of flat-work and training. I believe that there is truth in the statement that jumping is 90% flat-work. Unfortunately too many people rush young horses through their flat-work and plop them over fences too big, too soon, for their own personal gain (be it to sell a young horse or because jumping is more fun to them). If a horse has aptitude for and is physically capable of jumping, one shouldn't have to force it over a jump. Once the horse is balanced, rhythmic, has impulsion, has steering (from the leg & seat), knows half halts, knows leads and simple changes, trusts its rider, and is generally confident with flat-work, jumping (small jumps at least) shouldn't be a big deal to the horse. However, if you try and skip past the flat-work and make a horse go over a jump before it has built any confidence under saddle you are just going to scare the poo out of your young horse and create a slew of problems for yourself that would have been avoided if you simply waited six more months and worked on the flat, developing the horse's skills and creating a mutual trust and confidence.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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  1. Glad she was so good for you! At least no one can accuse me of rushing Izzy--she'll be 8 this summer and she's never jumped over 2'6". Ha!

  2. Slow and steady wins for sure! With my mare, we started playing around with jumps fairly early on because she NEEDS something different than dressage and striving for perfection. (And trot poles really helped her get more of a push and swing in her step.) We've spent about a year going from poles to free jumping to cross bar gymnastics. We threw in a few big steps here and there, cantering fences and some more "substantial" 2ft fences! Of course that happened when we were on a roll of consistent training, now that she's had a couple months off of fence work (due to mud...) we've started back at A: free jumping, poles, cross bar gymnastics. It's taken about a month this time around!

    I have a happy confident horse that LOVES jumping because she had never been over faced mentally and never been asked to jump something her body isn't up to yet.



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