September 28, 2013

Hugo learns to free jump

When I first met Hugo last weekend, EB casually mentioned that she wanted to free jump him to see if he can jump and how well. A plan was quickly hatched to free jump him this afternoon. With the help of EB's boyfriend E, we quickly got a shoot set up and went about introducing it to Hugo. It seems to me like he's never seen one before, which is always a good sign with a young horse that has a mysterious back ground. It tells me that it's unlikely he's ever jumped, or if he has it hasn't been anything big or strenuous. After watching him go through and figure out how the gymnastic line works I feel fairly certain that he's never jumped anything.

Hugo figuring it out. 2'3" vertical. Nice knees and well planted hind end!

I like to "teach" horses to free jump, rather than just chase them through the shoot. Sure, if you are only ever going to put them through the shoot once, video, and take pictures and never do it again, then it does save time to just force them through it. However, these horses inevitably have a rotten experience, thus making it harder the second time. It's pretty evident when they start running out, tearing down the shoot, and all around don't learn a dang thing except to avoid the shoot.

So how do I "teach" them to do the shoot and "enjoy it"? The jump set up is as follows: ground pole, 9' distance to 2' exe, 18' distance to 2' vertical, 21' distance to 2'3" vertical (eventually this would become an oxer and made larger as the horse becomes better at jumping). Our assumption was that Hugo had never been through a jump shoot, so we set it up, put all the jumps down leaving ground poles and walked him through it. After he came out we gave him a treat. We repeated this a couple time until he got the idea that going through meant treat. This also provides the bonus that the horse doesn't gallop around the arena afterward, but stops and seeks out the treat person. Then slowly, one trip through at a time we put up the jumps to small ex's, and then graduated the final two jumps to small verticals until the final jump was a whole 2'3".

Hugo did great and caught on. The first few trips were funny to watch since he didn't really know what to do with his legs, but he figured it out quickly and by the end had it down and finished on a really good note. EB was very happy and we all had quite a bit of fun, including Hugo. As for E, he is quite the curious fellow and had a fun time learning all about free jumping and was very helpful. There is certainly good horse hubby potential in that one. Wink wink EB.
Family pic. EB, Hugo, and E
EB will be out of town for the month of October, so I am going to try and ride the boy twice a week if I can swing it. We shall see.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!


  1. Impressive first time through, my baby when free jumped hopped around like a deer lol.

  2. By the picture it looked like he did pretty well for a first-timer.

  3. Thanks for the free jumping info. In a couple of years I'm going to need it for Emi! Hugo is very handsome and it looks like he will be a nice jumping horse.

  4. He is gorgeous! I love that first picture!! I'm glad you found a horse to ride on occasion and I'm glad you're having fun.

    Also nice to hear about the free jumping. We do it the same way at my barn. :)



Related Posts with Thumbnails