Jumping bigger than you or your horse are used to can be a nerve-racking experience. What if you’re not ready? What if your horse isn’t ready? And how high is too high for you both?
Remember that jumping big fences isn’t everything – good technique is far more important. However, there are situations when you might want to challenge yourself or your horse – for example, if you’ve been jumping at the same level for a while and want to try moving up, or if you’re bringing on a young or inexperienced horse and would like to progress his training.
Top tip – Whatever you’re doing with your horse, be consistent. When training horses, it’s the key to being successful
A failsafe plan
It’s important to take a safe, structured approach when building height. There’s a great exercise that will help you do this and you don’t need to be an expert to use it successfully. It’s so structured that not a lot can go wrong and all the right things you should be doing will start to happen subconsciously.
It starts with the basic stepping stones, then builds up in height and width with the support of ground poles. Then, once you’ve reached the height you want to achieve, the support is gradually taken away, leaving you jumping one decent-sized fence with just a single ground pole for guidance.
How high can you go?
Knowing how far to push your horse is tricky – you basically need to test him. It’s always best to creep the height up in small increments. The only way you can tell whether he’s ready to go further is by judging his confidence – if he feels like he’s keen and finding it easy, try for a bit more, but if he doesn’t feel very confident over it, reduce the height a little for a while.
It’s important not to push for too much too soon. Once you’ve got a little higher or wider and your horse has jumped it well, call it a day. If you feel he has scope to go higher, try for a little more in your next session.
To find out how to ride Tim’s fail safe exercise and how it can help your horse, get your copy of January Horse&Rider out now.