Usually I’d need more information on why he refuses to give a concrete answer. However, generally speaking, if a horse is legitimately green and somewhat afraid of an obstacle, I prefer to take a more sympathetic approach than I would if he just refused from habit.
In the first case, I would let him walk up to the jump he is curious about and touch/smell it with his nose, followed by a pat. Do this several times from both directions. Sometimes once introduced to a obstacle with flowers or a small wall, for example, they are okay with most of them. You may need a ground person to help you get him to reach down and touch/smell the flower boxes. You will have to get creative at home with different obstacles for this introduction or take him to a friends stable with different jumps. This system may not work so well with chronic spooky horses.
If he stops from habit that is a different approach. He must have some form of “consistent” corrections for any stopping, both at home and at at the show. Even if it’s your fault because of a poor distance, you need to correct the horse. Many people create stoppers when they get to a bad distance, because they blame themselves and give no correction. No correction means to the horse he did the right thing and teaches a horse that is okay to stop. As long as it’s well within his ability level to jump the obstacle, you must always correct the stop with discipline.
The degree of discipline depends on the severity of the stop. A simple stop may be dealt with, perhaps with just a kick and cluck or an unpleasant sound from the rider like a “growl.” The horse stopping really naughty or twice requires a hard smack with your stick behind the girth. When they jump it, be sure to reward them with a pat. Remember a horse associates discipline and reward within about 5 seconds, so be prompt with both.
Above all, don’t be intimidated in the show ring about the discipline if he stops. You must correct him in the ring at least once, otherwise he will know he can get away with the stop in the ring. Do it once, but be meaningful!
so agree with all of the above but would like to add that if I have a green horse that gets spookie at new jumps at the show or we are moving from/to indoor/outdoor and they tend to pay more attention to surroundings then the course I take them to a much lower height for the first class: 1. they can easily jump it even if distracted. 2. builds confidence in a green horse without being overwhelmed especially if they may have more then one jump they need to look at and you only have so much time once in a ring. Then I take them to the class we actually came to show for in the same ring. 🙂
Great tips Maria! Thanks for your feedback.
Can you help with my horse is stopping I. The show arena?
Here is another blog post on stopping that you may find helpful. http://equestriancoachblog.com/troubleshooting-stopping-at-the-first-jump-on-course/