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Building a Strong Foundation for Safe and Successful Horse Jumping

Horses are marvelous animals that can be trained to perform various physical and mental tasks. One of the most exciting disciplines that horses are used for is jumping.

However, not all horses are ready to start jumping right away. In this article, we will discuss the physical and mental readiness of horses for jumping, the foundation that horses need to start jumping, and when younger horses should be started on fences.

Physical and Mental Readiness for Jumping

Jumping can be rigorous on a horse’s body, so it is important to ensure that they are physically and mentally ready before starting. Although physical readiness is essential, mental readiness is equally crucial when considering a horse’s readiness to jump.

A horse that is not mentally sharp enough for jumping can be a danger to themselves and their rider. The physical readiness of a horse for jumping requires that they must have sufficient muscular strength, good blood circulation, and healthy joint function.

Before starting to jump a horse, make sure that they have been properly conditioned through basic flatwork, including lunging and riding exercises that encourage stretching and extension. Practice first with low fences, cavaletti, and ground poles, to get their muscles working and to develop their balance.

In terms of mental readiness, some horses are ready more quickly than others. Just like humans, some horses need more training than others to understand what is expected of them.

When starting to jump a horse, it is best to start with small fences and work up gradually so that they can become comfortable with the concept of jumping. It is also important to assess your horse’s personality before beginning their jumping training, because some horses are more willing to jump than others.

Foundation on the Flat and Over Small Fences

Training a horse for jumping starts with developing a solid foundation. If a horse does not have basic flatwork skills, it is impossible to achieve solid jumping skills.

Flatwork is an essential foundation for all riding disciplines, and jumping is no exception. When training a horse for jumping, it is important to develop their basic flatwork skills, such as the ability to turn, halt, trot, and canter.

Ground poles and cavaletti are the ideal way to start developing a horse’s foundational skills. They help the horses to develop mental and physical discipline, balance, timing, and coordination.

You can start by setting up the poles at ground level and spacing them some strides apart. It’s crucial that the horse starts learning how to move over these poles comfortably before increasing their height.

Once the horse is comfortable with flatwork and basic groundwork skills, the next step is to move on to very low fences. These should be kept small so that the horse can focus on correct technique and build confidence.

Beginners, in particular, must start with small crossrails set for a ground pole’s height on each end. The small starting process will promote the horse’s understanding of distance, form of jumping, body flow, and the correct take-off and landing position.

Starting Younger Horses on Starter Fences

Starting a young horse on fences can be particularly tricky. You must strike a balance between training the horse and being mindful of the horses age.

Young horses’ bones and joints are delicate and can be easily damaged, which can lead to permanent injuries. It is essential to have proper judgment and horsemanship skills when determining when to start younger horses on fences.

Before introducing a horse to jumping, it is best to make sure they have completed sufficient groundwork, flatwork, and learned proper form and aids. At the end of the basic training, they will be physically and mentally fit to digest jumping.

If you decide to start your horse younger on fences, it is important to know the basics of their growth and development. Young horses have open growth plates in their knees and vertebrae, making their bones frailer.

You must keep them to lower fences suitable for their age and weight. Even with the best intentions at heart, you must also keep an eye on their fitness, routine, and health and reduce the regular training to base it solely on their maturity level.

Spine Maturity and Uneven Growth Spurts

The spine is one of the essential parts of a horse’s body that you must be careful of because it carries all the weight when you are riding. Horses may experience uneven growth spurts, which can cause unbalanced body weight that may lead to improper spinal posture and form.

Incorrect posture will negatively affect their jumping abilities, and the lessons they are taught should match their physical stage. Spine maturity is an essential part of the horse’s development.

So before starting any jumping exercises, ensure that they have completed sufficient base training, which includes obedience, saddle and leg control, and good shadowing. You can also consult with your veterinary to get the spines checked and evaluated carefully and seek guidance on how to keep the horse’s spine healthy and strong.

Start of Riding and Jumping before Full-Grown

The time for starting the horse’s training for jumping varies from horse to horse, depending on their size, strength, and maturity level. Horses may reach their full physical growth by five to seven years of age.

However, some horses may grow at different rates. Since a young horse’s joints are still developing, you shouldn’t strain their body before its fully mature.

The age at which a horse is started on jumping depends largely on the purpose of the horse and the economic value you put on them. Some horse owners may find it profitable to start them young, so that they can resume their training earlier and participate in racing activities.

Others may wait until the horse is older to avoid potential injuries or lameness issues later. You must take the time to educate yourself on the horse’s physical health and breed before deciding what is best for them.


In conclusion, jumping is an excellent discipline for horse enthusiasts. However, care must be taken when training horses to jump.

It is essential to ensure that horses are physically and mentally ready before starting them on fences, to develop a strong foundation on flatwork and small fences, and to be mindful of their growth and development throughout the jumping process. With a proper understanding of the essentials of jumping, you and your horse will be able to enjoy this fantastic discipline fully.

Jumping a horse can be a thrilling experience for riders and their horses. However, due to the perceived dangers it presents, care must be taken to ensure that both horse and rider are safe.

In this article, we will discuss the safe approach to jumping by incorporating jumping into the training program, building up a young horse’s strength and endurance, starting small, and gradually increasing difficulty. We will also touch on the importance of patience and consulting with experienced trainers and veterinarians.

Incorporating Jumping into Training Program

When incorporating jumping into a horse’s training program, it is important to ensure that the horse is mentally and physically ready. Jumping should be approached as an expansion of previous training rather than a new skill altogether.

Thus, jumping must be integrated seamlessly into the training program, making sure that the horse has enough stamina and balanced body balance. It is highly recommended that horse owners stick to a well-structured training program and only introduce jumping when their horse is meeting the foundational goals consistently.

Jumping should only be added to a horse’s training program after they have successfully completed flatwork and their basic groundwork skills, such as halt, turns, and circles. By incorporating jumping into a horse’s training program, horse owners can help their horses build up confidence, balance, and coordination.

Building up Young Horse’s Strength and Endurance

Training a young horse for jumping should be approached gradually, with the goal of gradually building up their strength, endurance, and fitness. Rather than starting with too much jumping, a horse’s Jumping program should include exercises that are low-impact, which may include trotting and cantering over cavalletti and ground poles.

At a young age, horses should develop a well-rounded base of fitness, that includes consistent exercise and a good routine. They should become accustomed to regular flat work and incorporating low-impact exercises like hill-work and long-trotting.

This will improve their fitness, agility and enhance their physical and mental well-being.

Starting Small and Gradually Increasing Difficulty

Another approach to ensure a safe approach to jumping in horses, is to start small and incrementally increase the difficulty. Begin with cavalletti, ground poles, and small crossrails.

Monitor the horse’s response and observe their confidence with every jump session. If the horse is successful in these exercises, increase the difficulty gradually through the year.

This gradual approach also helps the horse learn gradually, and riders to develop the necessary control and techniques needed. It’s important to avoid over-facing horses by jumping them over height or widths beyond their skill.

The idea is not to rush them but to encourage their motivation and keep them enthusiastic. Introducing too much too soon or increasing the level of difficulty too quickly can lead to physical or emotional struggles.

By building the horse’s confidence slowly and patiently, the horse will enjoy learning and be more willing to please.

Importance of Patience and Professional Consultation

It is necessary to exercise patience when working on a horse’s jumping abilities. Irrespective of their age and skill level, horses will tend to learn in their time.

Thus, it is important to have the right level of patience and to build their skills step-by-step. Consultation with experienced trainers and veterinarians can be helpful to ensure a safe approach to jumping.

Experienced trainers can provide advice and guidance on the best approaches and strategies while keeping in mind the horse’s capabilities and physical condition. A veterinarian can give regular medical check-ups to ensure that the horse is physically fit for jumping.

It is important to follow a long-term schedule when training a horse for jumping. A carefully prepared plan will involve evaluating the horse’s strength, developing long-term milestones, recognizing progress and identify early signs of degradation or potential injury.

This plan should take into account a horse’s age, skill level, physical development, and training responsiveness.


Jumping is a fun and exciting discipline, but it requires careful planning, patience and a gradual approach to remain safe. Incorporating jumping into a horse’s training program, building up their strength and endurance, starting small, and gradually increasing difficulty will enable exploration of new skills with confidence and fun.

It’s essential to always seek the advice and guidance of experienced trainers and veterinarians to ensure that you approach training your horse for jumping safely and systematically. In conclusion, a safe approach to jumping requires careful planning and preparation.

Building up a horse’s strength and endurance, incorporating jumping into their training program, starting small with low-impact exercises, and gradually increasing difficulty are essential. It’s also important to exercise patience and consult with experienced trainers and veterinarians.

By following a long-term schedule and paying attention to the horse’s abilities and physical development, you can create a positive and rewarding experience for both you and your horse.



What are some exercises to build up a horse’s strength and endurance for jumping? Exercises such as hill work and long trotting are good for building up a horse’s general fitness, while low-impact exercises such as cavalletti and ground poles can help with jumping-specific skills.

2. How do you know if a horse is mentally and physically ready for jumping?

It’s best to start with flatwork and basic groundwork skills, such as turns and circles, and gradually introduce low-impact jumping exercises. Monitor the horse’s response and confidence level with each session.

3. When should you start incorporating jumping into a horse’s training program?

Jumping should be integrated seamlessly into the training program only once foundational goals have been met consistently. 4.

Why is patience important when training a horse for jumping? Horses learn at their own pace, and introducing too much too soon can lead to physical or emotional struggles.

Patience and a gradual approach will lead to a more enjoyable experience for both you and your horse. 5.

Why is it important to consult with experienced trainers and veterinarians when training a horse for jumping? Experienced trainers and veterinarians can provide valuable advice and guidance on the best approaches and strategies, while keeping in mind the horse’s capabilities and physical condition.

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