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Train Your Horse To Stay Calm When Jumping with Flatwork Over Fences

Submitted by member: KateM

Hi there. I have been doing some jumping training to compete in Show Hunter (in New Zealand) and my horse is getting stronger rather than softer. In flat schooling without jumps I can get him soft in self carriage. Add jumps into the equation and I struggle to get him to trot to the base of the jump (only if I pull on him) otherwise he bounds the last stride. I also struggle to get him to canter evenly, without rushing to the fence. These are really low fences. I feel like I am pulling on him too much coming into the jumps and then of course we get horrible distances and then he gets really strong on the other side of the fence and bears down. Little bit frustrated as I’m trying to be really soft with leg, but we’re in a bit of a downward spiral right now and the competition season is well underway.  Hope you can help, thank you!

Answer by Bernie

This is not an uncommon problem and that is why I always advocate “Flatwork Over Fences.” Many horses are great on the flat and as soon as you start jumping they come unglued. What I would do is, on a daily basis, use lots of poles on the ground.  Single pole, line of poles, bending lines, all relating to horse show courses.  Do all your flatwork but incorporate lots of poles.  Then transition to cavaletti’s or really small jumps, 6-8 inches arranged like the poles were and incorporate them daily with your flatwork.  You cannot jump your horse every day, but you can work him daily over 6-8 inch “jumps” without any measurable concussion and I advocate this to everyone.

My Video Recommendations:

flatwork over fences

Flatwork Over Fences
Bernie Traurig
Take a ride with Bernie as he schools “Archie Bunker” and talks you through how he incorporates his flat techniques over small fences.
Running Time:  6 minutes and 45 seconds

View Video
flatwork over poles on the ground

Pole Exercises
Judy Martin
Judy Martin reveals her brilliant system using rails on the ground and cavallettis to enhance the riderʼs hand, leg & eye coordination while simultaneously improving the horseʼs balance and acceptance of the bridle.
Running Time:  9 minutes and 28 seconds

View Video

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Bernie Traurig

As a Horseman, Bernie is renowned for not only his riding talents but for his teaching and coaching gifts. As a competitor, Bernie has represented the United States Equestrian Team both at home and abroad on many occasions and reached the top of the sport in all 3 of the International Equestrian Olympic disciplines: Show Jumping, Dressage, and Eventing.After amassing 60 years worth of training and riding techniques and experiences with thousands of horses, Bernie is driven to give back to the sport that has given him so much fulfillment and success.

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