How to Get a Stubborn Horse to Jump

Two Parts:Solving your horse's reticenceEncouraging the horse to jump

Some horses just will not jump and it can be pretty frustrating. Sometimes it is because the horse was injured while jumping in the past, while sometimes he is scared of the jump. Most horses enjoy jumping, but it can take a while to convince them.

Part 1
Solving your horse's reticence

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    Find the cause behind the horse's stubbornness. Why isn't the horse jumping, and how is he choosing to avoid the jump? Be observant and note how the horse acts both physically and mentally. Some of the possible reasons include:
    • If the horse is shying away and lays his ears back, he may be scared of the jump. Or, he may have had a bad experience when jumping previously.
    • If the horse swerves to avoid the jump, he probably doesn't understand what he is supposed to do, or is saying 'no'.
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    Realize that the horse may also be bored or overworked. If you have only been jumping on a ring, set up some jumps outside in a field, or incorporate jumping into a trail ride by scoping out small, fallen logs.
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    Check the horse's body and legs to see if there's a problem. It may be helpful to have a vet or chiropractor work on your horse.
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    Persevere. Horses are able and willing creatures. Even though you might think horses are naturally lazy and hate work, most riding problems root from miscommunication or a mentally-scarred horse.

Part 2
Encouraging the horse to jump

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    Reteach your horse how to jump. This shouldn't take too much time, but you will need to take it at the horse's pace. Go step-by-step until you find where the problem is. After that, isolate the problem and figure out why it is a problem, and how you can fix it. It may help to talk to a professional trainer. In some cases, it may be relevant to talk to the prior owner of the horse.
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    Consider how well the horse can see the jump. Is it short and made of wood in a sandy arena? The colors may look the same to your horse and he will not see the jump until he runs into it, making him scared of the jump. If this is the case, try painting the jump black and white striped so it will show up (realize that bright colors may scare your horse). Make sure that you have a rail laying at the base of the jump on the ground so the horse can appropriately gauge where to take off.
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    Use rider experience to overcome the reticence. In the case of a horse who is taking advantage of a novice rider, either a change of venue or a change of attitude is needed. Someone needs to be making the decisions and if the rider isn't assertive, the horse will take the lead. Even if you are a novice, you can learn confidence, and show the horse that not doing what you ask will lead to more work. Often it only takes a few times to convince a horse that you aren't trying to make it hard for him.
    • It might help to have a more advanced rider get the horse used to jumps, then take over from that rider.
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    Use your voice as a tool. Horses respond to tones of voice. If you say something to your horse in a pleased tone of voice, he will feel proud of what he did. Verbal praise is a great way to reward your horse.


  • If your horse still swerves around the jump at the last second, approach at the trot, and right before he swerves, squeeze his sides. Usually this will speed him up and by the time he realizes what happened, he will have no choice but to jump. However, this can also backfire by confusing him and making him stop, rear, buck, or bolt.


  • You should not attempt this unless you are confident in your abilities as a rider or under the watchful eye of a trainer.

Article Info

Categories: Horse Training