8 Essential Strategies to Cultivate a Jumping Horse that’s Eager and Self-Assured

Jumping horses require a unique combination of skill, trust, and athleticism, making them a favorite among equestrian enthusiasts. Whether you are an experienced rider or just starting out, developing a confident and willing jumping horse takes time and effort. Here are 8 tips to help you attainable your goal:

1. Safety First: Before you even think about jumping, make sure you establish a solid groundwork with your horse. This includes knowing how to properly tack up, understanding basic commands, and practicing good riding position. Safety should always be a top priority when working with horses, so take the time to learn about equine body language and how to navigate potentially risky situations.

2. Start Slow: It’s important to gradually introduce your horse to jumping. Begin with small obstacles, slowly increasing the height and difficulty as your horse gains confidence. By starting slow, you allow your horse to build strength and coordination without overwhelming them.

3. Teach the Basics: Before you can expect your horse to jump, they need to understand basic commands and have a solid foundation in flatwork. Working on transitions, bending, and adjustability will help improve your horse’s balance and responsiveness, making them more prepared for jumping.

4. Develop a Steady Rhythm: A steady rhythm is essential for successful jumping. Practice maintaining a consistent pace and stride length, as this will help you and your horse approach fences with confidence. Focus on riding straight lines and keeping a balanced position, allowing your horse to see the fence and judge the distance correctly.

5. Celebrate Small Wins: It’s important to celebrate even the smallest achievements when training a jumping horse. Reward your horse with praise or a treat when they successfully navigate a fence or show improvement. This positive reinforcement will build their confidence and create a willingness to try harder.

6. Seek Knowledge and Guidance: Jumping is a complex discipline that requires continual learning and improvement. Seek out experienced trainers or instructors who can provide guidance and support. Attend clinics, read books, and watch videos to expand your knowledge and deepen your understanding of the sport.

7. Develop a Strong Partnership: Building a strong partnership with your horse is crucial for developing a confident jumping horse. Spend time bonding with your horse, both on the ground and in the saddle. Understand their individual personality, preferences, and fears, and work together to overcome any challenges.

8. Stay Patient and Persistent: Developing a willing and confident jumping horse is a journey that takes time and patience. There will be setbacks and challenges along the way, but don’t let them discourage you. Stay persistent, keep a positive mindset, and continue to work towards your goals. Remember that every horse is unique and progresses at their own pace, so don’t compare yourself to others or get discouraged by slow progress.

By following these 8 tips, you can develop a horse that is willing and confident over fences. Remember, building a successful jumping partnership is about more than just the final product – it’s about the journey of growth and learning that happens along the way.

Establish a Solid Foundation

In order to develop a willing and confident jumping horse, it is important to establish a solid foundation. This foundation includes a combination of fitness, training, and knowledge. By starting early and gradually building upon this foundation, you can set your horse up for success in the jumping arena.

One of the first things to prioritize is your horse’s fitness. Horseback riding requires strength and stamina, so it’s important to make sure your horse is physically ready for the jumping work. This can be achieved through a combination of hacking, conditioning exercises, and practicing movement patterns that mimic the jumping motion.

Training is another key component of building a solid foundation. Anne Kursinski, an accomplished show jumper, shares that teaching your horse to be adjustable and confident in different spaces and movement patterns is crucial. Start by working on adjustability at the canter, as the jumping stride is often derived from the lope. Gradually introduce poles and small jumps to help your horse figure out where his feet need to go.

While it’s important to train your horse, it’s equally important to train yourself as a rider. Visualization can be a helpful tool to mentally prepare for jumping. Before each jump, visualize yourself and your horse going over the jump successfully. This can help boost confidence and focus. Additionally, learning from experienced riders and trainers can provide valuable knowledge and techniques to improve your jumping skills.

When it comes to the actual jumping process, it’s crucial to start small and gradually increase the difficulty. Begin with low, easy jumps and focus on proper technique and form. This allows your horse to build confidence and understand the task at hand. As your horse becomes more comfortable, gradually increase the height and complexity of the jumps.

It’s also important to address any fears or hesitations your horse may have. If your horse is unwilling to jump, it’s essential to figure out why and address those concerns. Some horses may be hesitant due to past negative experiences, while others may simply be distracted or unsure of their footing. Identifying and addressing these issues will help your horse become more willing and confident over jumps.

Remember, jumping should be an exhilarating experience for both you and your horse. It’s a time to showcase the hard work and training you’ve put in. While falls and mistakes are a common occurrence in jumping, it’s important not to dwell on them. Instead, focus on the progress you’ve made and the skills you’ve developed.

Key Takeaways:

Key Takeaways:

1. Establish a solid foundation through fitness, training, and knowledge.

2. Prioritize your horse’s fitness to ensure they are physically prepared for jumping.

3. Teach adjustability and confidence in different spaces and movements.

4. Train yourself as a rider through visualization and learning from experienced riders.

5. Start small and gradually increase the difficulty of jumps.

6. Address any fears or hesitations your horse may have.

7. Focus on progress and skills developed rather than dwelling on mistakes.

8. Embrace the exhilaration and enjoyment that comes with jumping.

Advantages Disadvantages
Develops a confident and willing jumping horse Requires time and patience
Improves fitness and overall performance May encounter setbacks or challenges along the way
Enhances rider skills and knowledge Can be physically demanding for both horse and rider
Builds a strong partnership between horse and rider Requires ongoing practice and training

Build Trust and Confidence

When it comes to jumping, trust and confidence are crucial for both the rider and the horse. Building a strong bond of trust allows the horse to feel safe and comfortable in taking on the challenges of jumping obstacles.

The first step in building trust is to ensure that the horse is in a safe and comfortable environment. This means providing a well-maintained and adjustable fence that the horse can easily navigate. A sturdy and inviting jump not only instills confidence in the horse but also encourages a positive and sprightly movement.

In addition to a safe and adjustable fence, the rider should also focus on their own position and confidence. Anne Kursinski, an experienced trainer, advises riders to “ride like you own the jump”. This means riding confidently and assertively, which helps to reassure the horse that this is a non-event and that there is nothing to fear.

One way to build trust and confidence is through visualization. Before attempting a jump, visualize yourself and the horse successfully clearing the obstacle. This mental exercise helps to solidify the desired outcome in your mind and instills confidence in both the rider and the horse.

Another crucial aspect of building trust is socializing the horse with other horses in an enclosed space. This helps the horse to become comfortable with the presence of other horses, reducing any anxiety or fear that may arise during a competition or show.

Experiencing success can also help to build confidence. Start with small, easily achievable jumps and gradually increase the height and complexity of the obstacles as both the rider and the horse become more comfortable. Celebrate each successful jump, whether it’s during practice or in a show, to reinforce positive experiences and boost confidence.

Practice Exercises:

1. Trotting poles: Set up a series of 4 poles spaced evenly apart. Practice trotting through them, focusing on maintaining a steady and rhythmical gait.

2. Adjustable fences: Set up a range of fences at different heights. Start with smaller jumps and gradually increase the height as the horse becomes more confident and comfortable.



Building trust and confidence in jumping horses is a function of creating a safe and inviting environment, practicing positive visualization, socializing with other horses, and slowly increasing the complexity of the obstacles. With proper training and patience, any horse can confidently and enthusiastically tackle jumping challenges.

Develop Proper Technique and Form

Having proper technique and form is crucial for any jumping horse. It not only ensures the safety of the horse and rider, but also helps the horse perform at its best and build confidence.

One of the first things to focus on is the horse’s balance. Make sure the horse is balanced and centered before approaching a jump. This can be done through exercises such as bending, leg yields, and lateral work. By developing a strong foundation of balance, the horse will be better prepared to approach jumps with confidence.

In addition to balance, it’s important to teach the horse proper technique when going over jumps. This includes having a round and bascule jump, where the horse raises its withers, tucks its knees, and rounds its back. Encourage the horse to use its hind end and engage its core muscles to achieve this proper form.

Another key aspect of technique is the horse’s approach and takeoff. Teach the horse to maintain a steady rhythm and stride length before the fence. This will help the horse find the correct spot to take off and make adjustments if needed. It’s also important to teach the horse to judge the height and width of the jumps, so it can make the necessary adjustments in its approach.

When it comes to the rider, it’s important to have an effective and balanced position. The rider should have a secure seat, with equal weight in both stirrups and a strong core. The rider’s upper body should remain tall and composed, with eyes up and looking ahead. This will help the rider provide clear and effective aids to the horse.

Practicing over poles and small jumps is a great way to develop proper technique and form for both the horse and rider. Start with simple exercises, such as trotting over poles, before progressing to small jumps. Make sure to give the horse plenty of praise and rewards for a job well done, reinforcing that jumping is a safe and rewarding activity.

Visualizing success can also be helpful. Before each jump, take a moment to visualize the horse and rider clearing the jump with ease and confidence. This positive mental imagery can help boost confidence and reduce any fear or anxiety.

Remember, developing proper technique and form takes time and practice. Be patient and consistent with your training, and always prioritize the well-being and safety of the horse. With the right approach, you can help your horse become a willing and confident jumper.

Gradually Increase Jump Height

When it comes to jumping, horses need to gradually build up their confidence and ability to clear higher obstacles. It is important to overcome any anxiety or fear they may have about jumping and to develop their skills in a controlled and progressive manner.

Anne shares eight tips to help horses become willing and confident jumpers:

1. Start Small

Begin with low jumps, such as poles or small crossrails, to allow the horse to become comfortable and familiar with the movement and feeling of jumping. This will help them develop the right mindset and build their confidence.

2. Progress Slowly

Gradually increase the height of the jumps as the horse becomes more comfortable and successful at each level. This will allow them to build strength and skill gradually, without feeling overwhelmed or rushed.

3. Understand Their Limits

Pay attention to the horse’s abilities and limitations. Not every horse will be able to jump as high or as often as others. It’s important to tailor their training to their individual needs and capabilities.

4. Add Variety

Keep the jumps interesting by adding different types of obstacles, such as oxers or verticals. This will help the horse to develop adjustability and become more adaptable to different jump configurations.

5. Train for Adjustability

Teach the horse to adjust their stride length and take-off point, as this will make them more successful and confident when approaching different jump heights and distances.

6. Socialise with Other Horses

Riding with other horses can help distract the horse from any anxiety or fear they may have about jumping. It also creates a more realistic environment, similar to competition settings.

7. Seek Professional Knowledge

Work with an experienced trainer or coach who can provide guidance and support throughout the horse’s jumping training. They can help identify any issues or areas that need improvement and provide appropriate exercises and training techniques.

8. Keep Safety a Priority

Always prioritize safety when jumping. This includes using proper equipment, such as well-fitted saddles and bridles, and ensuring the horse is physically prepared for the demands of jumping.

By following these eight tips, riders can help their horses overcome any initial obstacles or anxiety and become willing and confident jumpers, enjoying the exhilaration that comes with success in the jumping arena.

Vary Jumping Exercises

When developing a willing and confident jumping horse, it’s important to vary the jumping exercises you do. This will keep your horse engaged and interested, as well as help them develop the skills they need to be successful in the eventing world. Here are 8 strategies to consider:

1. Mix it Up

Instead of always doing the same jumping exercises, try mixing it up. This will prevent your horse from getting bored and also challenge them in different ways. For example, one day you can focus on jumping a series of small jumps in a row, and the next day you can work on jumping a single, larger jump from a distance.

2. Incorporate Groundwork

Groundwork is an important part of developing a confident jumping horse. By doing groundwork exercises such as lunging and circling, you can help your horse develop better balance and flexibility. This will translate to improved jumping skills.

3. Set Goals

Having specific goals in mind when you ride can help you stay focused and productive. For example, you can set a goal to have your horse jump a certain height or complete a specific pattern of jumps within a certain time frame. This will give you something to work towards and keep you motivated.

4. Practice Transitions

Transitions between gaits are important for a jumping horse, as they help them maintain a steady pace and adjust their stride length. Practice transitioning between the canter and trot, as well as between the canter and walk. This will help your horse stay balanced and in control during a jumping course.

5. Work on Straightness

Keeping your horse straight while approaching a jump is crucial for a successful jump. Work on keeping your horse’s body aligned with the jump by using your leg and rein aids to keep them focused and on track. This will help them jump more effectively and confidently.

6. Add Distractions

Horses can sometimes get distracted during jumping exercises, especially if they are still developing their confidence. Incorporate distractions into your training sessions, such as having another horse in the arena or asking your horse to jump while there are other horses going in different directions. This will help your horse learn to focus on the task at hand, even in a busy environment.

7. Develop a Strong Canter

A strong and controlled canter is important for a jumping horse. Work on developing your horse’s canter by doing exercises such as cantering over ground poles or cantering in small circles. This will help your horse maintain a steady pace and find the right distance to the jumps.

8. Get Experienced Help

If you’re finding it challenging to develop your horse’s jumping skills, don’t hesitate to seek help from an experienced trainer. They can provide guidance and feedback to help you and your horse reach your goals.

By varying your jumping exercises and incorporating these strategies, you can help develop a willing and confident jumping horse. Remember to always prioritize safety, both for yourself and your horse, and celebrate each small achievement along the way. Happy jumping!

Maintain Consistent Training and Conditioning

Maintain Consistent Training and Conditioning

In order to develop a willing and confident jumping horse, it is crucial to maintain consistent training and conditioning. Confidence comes from familiarity and repetition, so it’s important to establish a routine and stick to it.

When training your horse for jumping, start with the basics of flatwork. Lope your horse on a loose rein and encourage forward motion. This helps develop the horse’s balance and encourages them to move freely and willingly. Matt, an experienced rider, can attest to the fact that cantering makes a horse feel sprightly and brave. Though it may be intimidating for some riders, cantering is something that should be done regularly to maintain the horse’s confidence.

A confident horse should also be comfortable with walking and trotting. Practice walking and trotting on a loose rein, making sure the horse remains relaxed and supple. This not only helps with conditioning but also allows the horse to become familiar with different speeds and movements.

When it comes to jumping, it is important to maintain a relaxed and steady canter. This allows the horse to adjust their stride and distance to the jump, making the takeoff and landing smooth and controlled. Clint, an experienced jumper rider, shares that the most important thing is to keep a positive and confident attitude when approaching a jump. This attitude helps the horse feel safe and secure, making them more willing to go over the obstacle.

Another key aspect of training is practicing different types of jumps and exercises. This helps the horse become adjustable and adaptable to various situations. For example, practicing tight turns and serpentine patterns teaches the horse to stay balanced and responsive, even in challenging situations. It also helps the rider develop their position and aids in maintaining the correct distance to the jumps.

In addition to regular training sessions, conditioning exercises are essential to keep the horse fit and ready for jumping. This includes lunging, hill work, and pole exercises. These exercises improve the horse’s strength and endurance, allowing them to perform at their best during jumping sessions.

Overall, maintaining consistent training and conditioning is vital for developing a willing and confident jumping horse. By incorporating a variety of exercises and consistently practicing jumps, riders can ensure their horse is prepared and ready to confidently tackle any obstacle that comes their way.


What are some tips for developing a willing and confident jumping horse?

Some tips for developing a willing and confident jumping horse include consistent training, building a strong foundation, using positive reinforcement, exposing the horse to different environments and obstacles, and allowing the horse to progress at their own pace.

How can consistent training help in developing a willing and confident jumping horse?

Consistent training helps in developing a willing and confident jumping horse by establishing a routine and building the horse’s trust and understanding. It allows the horse to become comfortable with jumping exercises and gradually increases their confidence over time.

Why is building a strong foundation important for a jumping horse?

Building a strong foundation is important for a jumping horse because it helps in developing their strength, balance, and coordination. It allows the horse to understand the basic jumping techniques and prepares them for more complex jumping exercises in the future.

How does positive reinforcement contribute to developing a willing and confident jumping horse?

Positive reinforcement, such as rewards and praise, encourages the horse to associate jumping with positive experiences. It helps in building their confidence, motivation, and willingness to perform jumping exercises, resulting in a more willing and confident jumping horse.

Why is it important to expose the horse to different environments and obstacles?

Exposing the horse to different environments and obstacles helps in developing their adaptability and confidence. It teaches them to approach new situations with a calm and willing mindset, which is essential for a jumping horse to successfully navigate various jumps and courses.

What is the function of fear in horse jumping?

The function of fear in horse jumping is to keep the horse safe from potential dangers. Fear is a natural instinct that helps horses to assess and avoid situations that might be risky or harmful. When it comes to jumping, fear can help the horse to evaluate the height, width, and complexity of the jump, and make decisions based on their own abilities and comfort level. It is important for riders to understand and respect their horse’s natural fear response, and to work on building trust and confidence to ensure a safe and successful jumping experience.

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