Beginner’s Guide to Horse Jumping

                Horse jumping is one of the most widely known events within the world of English riding. It is an extreme sport that requires focus, good body control, and balance.  Horse jumping also requires a lot of trust between you and your horse. Your horse has to trust you to lead him into the right direction, and you have to trust your horse to take you over the fence. Without that trust, the rider might become nervous and therefore making the horse nervous. Confidence is key when it comes to this sport! Horse jumping doesn’t have to be just a show event. Jumping is a great way to have fun with your horse and it can be done for just pleasure purposes. But whether you are jumping for show or for fun, you always want to make sure that you are jumping safe.

Body position:

                Your body position is going to be one of the key elements for jumping. Without the popper body technique, you can hinder your horse’s jumping ability and make it harder on him to clear the jumps. Having the right body form is also the main thing that is going to keep you in your seat! If your body position isn’t balanced properly when going over the jump, you may end up leaning too far forward and find yourself falling out of the saddle once your horse lands the jump. The two-point position is going to be one of the main body positions that you need to learn for jumping.

Two- Point:

1.     While your horse is walking, stand up in the saddle and stretch out to touch his mane. Make sure your back is straight and your knees are slightly bent.

2.     Your shoulders need to be square with your back and your heels need to be all the way down.

3.      While in the two-point position, your weight is going to be mostly distributed to the balls of your feet and you are going to need a lot of leg strength to become solid in this position. Practice makes perfect!

4.      Once you feel comfortable with holding the two-point at a walking pace, go ahead and start practicing the two-point position while trotting. It is going to be a lot bumpier compared to the walking pace, but this is where the bent knees come in to play!

5.     Bending you knees for the two-point will help you to absorb the bumpy motion of the trot and help you to be able to flow with the motion of your horse.    

6.      You also want to make sure that you are able balance in the two-point without using your hands. If you rely on your hands to balance your body when jumping, you will ending up pulling your horse’s mouth and cause him to not jump properly. If you need help balancing while clearing the jump, you can always grab on to your horse’s mane and use that to stabilize yourself.

                Once you are comfortable with the trotting pace, kick it into gear and practice the two-point while in a canter. After you have mastered the two-point, and you have a good solid base, it is time to start on ground work!


Ground work:

                When starting the ground work for jumping, it is essential to make sure you have all the basics down. You also want to make sure you are comfortable in the saddle before you start attempting jumps! When starting the learning process for jumping, it is always best to start on a horse who is familiar with jumping and knows what he is doing. Having an experience horse is going to make the new rider feel more confident and secure. Once horse and rider have been established, it is time to learn how to jump!

Beginner jump exercises:

Before you go to the big leagues, you have to learn the basics! A good way to start is to use ground poles:

1.    Place three pole on the ground and space them at about 5 feet apart.

2.    Start off by just walking over the poles with your horse to familiarize yourself with the motion

3.    Next, proceed to go over the poles at a posting trot

4.    Once you feel comfortable with the posting trot, continue to trot over the pole in the two-point position

5.     Once you have mastered the poles at a posting trot and in the two-point position, it’s time to canter! Space the poles to be about 9 feet apart to allow for the canter strides.

6.    Practice cantering over the poles in both normal seat and two-point position

Once you feel comfortable with the ground poles, you can move on to the cavaletti.     

          A cavaletti is a pole ( or poles) that is raised just a couple inches off of the ground. They are not quite high enough for your horse to have to jump over, but they are high enough that he will have to lift his feet higher off the ground.

1.       Just like the ground poles, take your horse over the cavaletti at a posting trot. Your horse will have a slight jump motion while going over the cavaletti, but not quite the full jump motion yet.

2.         Next, got over the cavaletti at a trot using the two- point position.

3.         One you feel comfortable with the cavaletti at the trot, proceed to practice the cavaletti at a canter.

4.        Your horse might feel the need to do an actual little jump while at the canter pace. Just keep your body in the two-point position and go with the motion of your horse while he makes the jump. Keep your knees bent, heels down, and make sure your hands move forward to give your horse the neck movement that he will need to jump.

                After you feel comfortable with the cavaletti, you can start tackling small jumps. It is always a good idea to start small and then work your way up to higher jumps once you feel comfortable. You also want to make sure that you have someone watching you jump when you are first starting out. Whether it is your trainer, a friend, or a family member, it is always good to have somebody watch you for safety precautions, as well as helping you with your technique. Having someone to critique your form is always helpful when just starting out. If you get into the habit of jumping with bad form, the result won’t be good for you or your horse. That’s why it is always a good idea to have someone watch you jump and let you know how you can improve to become a better jumper!