Is loose jumping detrimental to young horses, or does it give them the chance to learn for themselves without rider interference? Penny Richardson investigates
It’s a bit like Marmite, but – love it or hate it – loose jumping is an important part of the production process for many owners, breeders and riders.
So what exactly is loose jumping? Essentially, it’s sending a horse down a lane – enclosed or open – to jump a single fence or grid without tack or a rider. It’s used worldwide for studbook gradings and to assess horses’ potential, teach them to think for themselves when jumping and, best of all, give them some fun.
“I think it’s great to loose jump horses, but with common sense,” says breeder and producer Shirley Light, who owns Brendon Stud in West Sussex. “My yearlings get jumped in our indoor school after their first winter in the barn. It gets rid of some of their pent-up energy and stops them going crazy and slipping over when they’re first turned out.