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 behind.
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
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.
|Woodland Horse Center
16301 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20905
301-421-9156 fax: 301-421-9049