A compact, almost black, attractive little pony, Magic was gelded late in life
and still thinks he's a stallion. He just loves the girls. He neighs hard and
prances around his stall anytime a mare walks by, and he'll try to get
amorous if he's turned out to pasture with a mare. He'll also try to fight with
horses three times his size. He's so aggressive around other horses, in
fact, that he has to be turned out alone.
For riders, Magic provides a lively mount. He's fast, agile, and a fantastic
jumper despite his size, which is why I've assigned him to you for this lesson.
Since you're riding Magic, I'm going to tell you the truth about ponies. Yes,
they're certainly cute, and some people consider them smarter than
horses. Contrary to popular belief, however, being small does not make
them nicer. In fact, many of them can be difficult to handle.
You've already read that Magic acts up around other horses in the field,
which means you should keep him away from other horses when you're
riding. If he can get into a scrap, he will. Apart from that, you'll find him well
behaved, and he'll give you a great ride.
Magic is now angled slightly downward, with his front legs ready to land. As
soon as this happens, Magic will push his head and neck up, and his
hindquarters will drop down. If you're following his motion, your joints
should easily absorb the shock when he lands.
The hindquarters will come under the horse farther than normal. In fact,
they'll land very close to his front legs. To regain his balance, Magic has to
push off with his hind legs again which will help him raise his front end off
the ground. To encourage this recovery push, close your upper calves
(again, not your heels). This is another place where you could get left
The jump is not over until he second stride after the jump. The
follow-through upon landing is extremely important. To follow through,
make sure Magic's pace doesn't change. He should not slow down. He
must stay straight. Failure to follow through will sour a horse on jumping
and make it extremely difficult to jump a course of fences, as you'll be doing
in the next lesson.
During his recovery stride, don't balance yourself by pulling on Magic's
reins. After the recovery stride, travel straight for at least two or three
additional strides. It helps you and the horse regain balance.
What to do if...your horse stops in front of a jump.
The first and nastiest type of refusal occurs when the horse canters toward
the jump, slams on his brakes, and doesn't jump. This is called, not
surprisingly, stopping in front of a jump, or quitting.
Several things can cause quitting. Your horse's strides may have been
mistimed for the jump, though that's not usually the case. More likely,
during the approach the horse may have lost his confidence about jumping.
Maybe your own lack of confidence played a part, or maybe something
caught the horse's eye. Also, some horses simply fear jumping.
The most likely explanation, because it's a common problem among riders
new to jumping, is that you slowed down on the approach. You may also
have done something inadvertently that interrupted the horse's thought
process during the approach. Of course, try to ride so that your horse
doesn't refuse a jump. But in case he does, make sure that you don't keep
going when the horse stops. Keep you heels down. Look up.
What to do if...your horse ducks out to either side of the jump.
This can happen if your approach to the jump isn't straight, you're riding
timidly, and/or you're communicating that you really don't want to take this
jump at all. Rethink, re-approach, try again.
What to do if...your horse isn't crescendoing toward the jump.
All of the above reasons for stopping in front of a jump may apply.
Incorrect striding, a lack of confidence on the part of the rider or the horse,
or a poor approach can cause a horse to stop in front of a jump.
Boost your confidence
Build your skills
Enhance your lessons
Put Mike Smith's
40 years of
experience work for
You'll love it!
|Woodland Horse Center
16301 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20905
301-421-9156 fax: 301-421-9049