A Missed Distance is Bad But a Refusal Will Drop You Out of the Ribbons(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When you enter the show ring your first concern is to get to eight jumps correctly and succinctly. Missing a distance is bad but a refusal will drop you out of the ribbons for sure. If you have a refusal don’t despair, it just means you need to go back and get some more practice in.
Top Tips To Avoid Refusals
The first thing riders must do is ride positively toward the fence. Having the idea a horse ‘may refuse jump 4 like all the other horses’ will only instill this notion (and it is a notion) in your mind and in your horse’s mind.
As soon as you feel your horse backing off from a fence, sit up and start a positive ride to the fence. There is no need for dramatic arm flapping and aggressive growling. Use your seat and legs to get your horse to the base of the fence.
If you need to use your stick, use it 3 strides from the fence. It makes no sense to use your crop when your horse is taking off. Why punish your horse for going to, and jumping the jump?
At this point you should be happy your horse has jumped the jump. If you are in a show situation, you have probably dropped down in the placings because of the horse sucking back. If it is rushed, hurried or from a poor spot, remember to school similar fences at home.
When you are at home schooling, keep a steady rhythm and approach the same fence again. The horse should have a sense of confidence and the fence should be smoother and more rhythmic. Sometimes the horse may jump HUGE! remember to grab mane and reward the horse for his efforts.
Plan ahead to avoid a run-out. If you know your horse may run out the first thing is to put your stick into the hand your horse most likely will run-out on. For example if I know my horse will run out to the left, I will put my crop in my left hand.
Run-outs are usually caused by lack of confidence in the horse. Before heading to a show, prepare your horse by practicing obstacles which you may find at the show. Bright birch jumps white gates and scarey hay bales come to mind!
Keep your horse between your hand and leg. Have the feeling you are pushing your horse up a narrow hallway. Snug and equal pressure on each rein. If you feel the horse wobble left or right have your leg,seat, hand, stick handy to correct any deviation.
When you school your horse at home repeat a simple jump, cross-rail or pole until your horse continues straight and rhythmic over the jump.
If you have a nappy horse while on course, take your time and be confident in your riding. Nappy horses usually lack self esteem and with quiet confidence you will get your horse moving forward again. Maintain your rhythm with your seat and legs. If your horse decides to spin, turn him back to the direction he came. When he is more confident in his way of going then proceed to the jump.
Be aware if you are experiencing refusals, run-outs and nappiness, you may be over facing your horse and you may have to re-assess your program. Back off and start from the beginning with a solid foundation of poles and gymnastics to get the horse the confidence it needs in the show ring.
Laura and De L’Aire at Thistle Ridge Stables
Do you have a horse which used to refuse or run -out? Write a comment and let us know how you corrected it! We;d love to hear from you.