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breeder’s point of view

Free Jumping Young Horses Benefits Horses, Breeders, and Trainers

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all it what you will, free jumping, loose jumping or chute

jumping is an essential element in training young horses who may have a serious show jumping career ahead of them. But hunters and dressage horses can also benefit from some training in the jumping chute and it should be included in their training program as young horses. European Warmblood

breeders and trainers have used this technique for generations and regularly free jump their young horses, especially stallion prospects. In fact, free jumping evaluation is a major component of all European registries in their stallion licensing programs. It is never too young to introduce a horse to the free jumping chute. Even a mare with a foal at her side can be walked and then trotted down the jumping chute with the poles on the ground. Of course this only needs to be done two or three times to introduce the foal to the experience. We all know how well horses remember both good and bad experiences. For youngsters up to one year of age, a session need only last five to ten minutes. Perhaps five to seven times down the chute and depending on ability, a height of up to 3’ to 3’3” is recommended. From one to two years of age, a session is perhaps ten to fifteen minutes long and about eight to ten times down the chute with the height up to 3’9” with a spread of up to two feet. At three years and older, the sessions can be up to fifteen to twenty minutes and comprised of about ten to twelve times down the chute. Talented three year olds can be asked to jump up to four feet with a spread of up

By Michael Boyd

A great example of a horse free jumping with superb form.

to three feet. Four year olds can jump up to 4’3” and a spread of up to four feet. Early in training the emphasis has to be on helping the

horse to go down the chute in a calm, relaxed manner. Some horses will go too fast and will need to spend more time at lower jumps and be walked into the chute and quietly led down the chute. Others have a slower tempo and may need some encouragement with a lunge whip over the jumps. There are a number of reasons why it is important

to exercise these young jumping horses, as well as hunters and talented dressage horses, through the free jumping chute. Firstly, when properly schooled they will develop confidence in their ability to jump with suppleness and calmness. This will translate later into the proper attitude when jumping under saddle. Secondly, free jumping teaches the young horse to balance and how to handle their legs and body over jumps. As the young horse develops calmness and

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