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Building Your Horse’s Confidence Back Up

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Submitted by member: Loretta

I am riding a 7-year-old Warmblood that is bred well and has shown.  She spent 6 months in Wellington, as she was very scared at shows and had a huge spook.  The spook I’m addressing by exposing and retreating, and trying to build her confidence.  (I watched your video, Introducing the Green Horse & Training the Spooky Horse to the Liverpool.”)  However, my concern is that this horse jumps well bold and at a perfect spot but when she chips she throws her legs and body any way to get over the fence.  This horse was jumping 3′-3’3″ but I have put the fences down to 2′ as I’m not comfortable that she can negotiate the chip.  Is this a confidence issue?  After all the fences she has jumped, I can’t understand the lack of form and not knowing where to put her feet and body.  Would gymnastics help?  If so what kind of setup?  What is your advice on getting this horse to jump a chip safely?  Thanks!

Answer by Geoff Teall

So my first reaction to your question is that it is very important to make sure your solution is based on where your horse actually is as far as state of mind goes, and not on where you think she should be. Although it sounds like your horse has had some nice experience, what is important is how she is feeling at the moment.

Having said this, I think it is important that you go back to the beginning and try to re-create your horse’s confidence, and also to try to stabilize her style in different situations. I think the two most important factors here would be to be sure to create jumps that she is able to handle with good style, and also to incorporate these jumps in as many different situations as possible.

As far as different situations go, I would start with single jumps, then incorporate different lines, and then move on to combinations and possibly some gymnastics. As to the jumps themselves, I would start very low (even getting a horse very ride-able over rails on the ground is helpful), I would use a large variety of types of jumps, and I would make them all as conducive to good jumping style as possible. This for me would mean wide ground lines at the verticals and ramp oxers. Both of these style of jumps allow the horse enough room and time to use their front end and the rest of their bodies properly. As your horse’s style improves so could the height of the jumps and the difficulty of the exercises. Doing the normal strides, as well as adding strides, can be helpful when you are using lines. Again, ride-ability is a key factor to good jumping style.

Like all things with horses, the best solutions involve getting back to the basics and spending enough time building a solid foundation. I like to think our job is to teach the horses the skills they need in order to do their job properly.

Recommended Blog Post

For further reading, check out Bernie’s blog post: “How to Improve Your Horse’s Front End and Jumping Technique.”

Video Recommendations:

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Building Confidence in Combinations
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Geoff Teall

Geoff Teall is one of the leading Hunter and Hunt Seat Equitation trainers in the country. Horses and riders who have trained with Geoff have gone on to win championships, medals and ribbons at major events including Devon, the AHSA Medal Finals, the ASPCA Maclay Finals, the Capital Challenge, the Pennsylvania National, the Washington International, the USET Talent Search, and the National Horse Show. In addition to training, Geoff is an "R" judge for both Hunters and Hunt Seat Equitation. Visit his website: www.montoga.com

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