Does your horse spook at water, cat-leap ditches or dislike jumping down banks? These are all issues to address before the eventing season kicks off in March, and repetition is key to solving them, says New Zealand Olympic team bronze medallist Jonelle Price.
In this video, Jonelle has to sit tight when a young horse launches down banks, and demonstrates how to transform a mount from nervous to confident in one session.
“When you’re cross-country schooling horses of all ages and stages, I find it useful to walk up to natural fences, such as small ditches and banks,” says Jonelle.
“I think it’s healthy and important that the horse understands why he’s jumping the fence — because he knows what it is and he’s happy to do it.
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“It would be easy to use momentum and speed to convince a horse that they should be jumping a natural fence and perhaps they haven’t clocked that there is a hole in the ground. But when you’re walking there is no getting around it — they have to look.”
“There were a few anxious moments today when I was schooling Cooley Showtime (see video, above), where he was nervous jumping down some banks.
“In these situations it’s a matter of repetition. It’s not about me changing my ride; it’s about doing the same exercise in the same fashion until he understands that there are no demons or dragons at the bottom of the bank.
“It took him a couple of times, but he started off being nervous and over-exaggerating the jump, and by the end he was happy jumping down on a loose rein.”
Don’t miss Jonelle’s cross-country masterclass, explaining how to get the most out of your first schooling session this year, in the current issue of Horse & Hound (28 January).