5. Adjust Your Goals on the Fly
Correct a horse who hesitates repeatedly on takeoff.
If you feel confident enough to put both reins in one hand just before takeoff, give a tap of the stick right behind your leg, being sure to keep your eyes focused ahead. Timing is everything here, so if you’re not confident that you can do this without losing your balance or rein contact, use the stick on your horse’s shoulder instead and give a cluck.
Prevent cutting in on takeoff.
Discourage your horse from anticipating the turn as you approach a jump and cutting in before the jump.
Take the spooky jump test: I’ve draped a cooler over a small vertical. Before presenting Autumn to the jump—which truly alarms him at first—I calmly walk him past it. Then I pick up the canter and head toward it. Still worried about the jump, he breaks to trot, but I persevere by sitting deep in the saddle and tall in my upper body while closing my legs firmly on his sides and widening my hands slightly, maintaining a steady connection on both reins. I maintain this determined position all the way to the base of the jump, keeping my eyes up and my shoulders behind his shoulders, being careful not to collapse my upper body. I also give a cluck and wave my stick so he can see it out of the corner of his eye. As a result …
… he bravely jumps the cooler. C.