Horses need to learn how to jump. Yes, you can chase them around the ring and make them jump, but they need to learn to jump with confidence, patience, and in good form.
Good form is judged as follows: the horse must leave the ground at a reasonable distance from the jump, not a long distance, and not too short, jump squarely off the hind quarter, lift from the shoulder, lift and tightly tuck the knee and fetlock in front, and lift and tuck behind.
But first they just have to learn to jump an obstacle set up in the chute. The first thing the horse learns is to go around the ring at liberty, up and down the chute which is set up on one side, and be able to change direction. Once they can do that we introduce ground poles, followed by cross rails, then small verticals. The size of the fence depends on the age of the horse. We teach our 2 year olds to go through the chute with no rails, it’s fun for them, and gets them ready for the next year. If we have a horse that is not brave we give them a leader pony, to show them how it’s done. Once they learn how to negotiate the chute, we then teach them to jump.
What follows next is an individualized program. All horses need to learn to shorten their strides, and we use timing rails, and canter poles to control the size of the stride, so eventually the horse learns to jump from a quiet distance.
Jump chute training continues with more advanced horses, where they learn to adjust their strides between oxers and verticals, and the older horses learn to jump bigger fences in the chute as well. It is a great way to introduce new levels of difficulty appropriate for the age and ability.
If you want your horse to go to an inspection, where they will be tested in hand as well as at liberty over fences, it is important to teach the horse his job, so he can jump with confidence and show off his or her athletic prowess.
A true story: A friend imported a mare that only received 5’s in the free jumping, she was scared and sloppy. After some training the mare went to another inspection, and received scores of 7’s and 8’s and is now an elite mare. Her name is Rhapsody and is owned by Rachel and Warren Erlich, Greengate Stud.com.
The handling and jump chute training pays off if your goal is to get the higher score.
In addition, hunters and jumpers in for training go through the chute once a week, the gymnastic lines set up change from week to week. Most importantly …we clap for the horses when they are finished working in the chute, and most of them raise their tails and prance a bit as if to say, ”look what I just did” They are proud of themselves. And they had fun.