Jump­ing across a fence­line

NZ Horse & Pony - - Training Masterclass -

The hunt jump Lily faces is a spar with a rail on top, which is a great place to start, ex­plains Sarah. Although hunt spars are of­ten lower than the show jumps many rid­ers hap­pily jump, they are quite in­tim­i­dat­ing for a lot of peo­ple when they start out. While it is sim­ply a case of get­ting used to the look of them, Sarah ad­vises ner­vous rid­ers to build a small spar at home so they can learn to jump them con­fi­dently.

Luck­ily, Lily has dis­cov­ered her pony has al­ready been hunt­ing be­fore and loved it; this is a big bonus, says Sarah. “It’s not so much the height of the spar, but the fact that we’re sud­denly ask­ing the horse to jump across a fence­line. It can be quite com­pli­cated for them to get their head around.”

Sarah gets Lily to ap­proach the fence and let Griffin have a re­ally good look (above right). Sarah ex­plains that this is some­thing she rou­tinely does when in­tro­duc­ing any horse to school­ing over spars or spooky fences.

“Once upon a time, I be­lieved that show­ing a horse a jump was mean­ing­less from the horse’s per­spec­tive, so I de­cided to do a lit­tle test when I was teach­ing at a pony club. I had four groups of rid­ers and I de­cided the first and third group could show their horses the jumps be­fore we jumped them, but the sec­ond and fourth group couldn’t.

“I had to stop the ex­per­i­ment af­ter the first day, be­cause the groups who were al­lowed to show their ponies the jumps cleared them with no re­fusals and in the other groups we were pick­ing up rid­ers off the ground. It made a huge dif­fer­ence.”

The first time Lily ap­proaches the spar, she lacks a lit­tle con­vic­tion and Griffin grinds to a halt (be­low right).

“You’ve just got to be that lit­tle bit more con­fi­dent,” says Sarah.

“He needs to feel that Lily wants to go. If nec­es­sary, imag­ine there’s a very hun­gry lion chas­ing you and it wants brown and white pony for din­ner! Kick, kick, kick!”

With a more de­ter­mined ride from Lily, Griffin sails over the fence (top).

“Man, he can jump!” says Sarah. “We want that re­ally strong, con­fi­dent ride from Lily ev­ery­where.”

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