Introducing a Green Horse to Jumping a Course with Bex Mason
Here, Bex Mason shares 4 top tips on introducing a green horse to jumping a course for the very first time so that they learn lots and enjoy themselves.
About Bex Mason
Bex is a Gloucestershire-based showjumper and has a strong team of up-and-coming world-class horses, which she competes across the UK and Europe. Bex spent years training and competing with leading showjumpers, including Tina and Graham Fletcher (GB), Ludo Philleaperts (BEL), (NZ) and Viki Roycroft (AUS). In recent years Bex has qualified for HOYS, World Breeding Championships, become National 5yo Champion and took a National title at The Blue Chip Winter Show Jumping Championships in 2019. Bex also offers competition and sales livery and coaching services. Learn more about Bex and her horses here: https://www.bexmasonshowjumping.co.uk
Bex’s 4 Top Tips
- Introduce poles early and use them often in small courses. I find that pacing poles will help give a green horse confidence off the floor, especially when approaching them in trot. They will give the horse a steer on the correct take off point, and the use of a pole encourages them to bring both hind feet together to push for take-off. Perfect when they first jump a course and might not be sure which fence is coming next, so they need a little help!
- Don’t be afraid to use plenty of leg a stride or two before take-off. It’s better to get the horse in front of the leg and give them plenty of confidence at the early stages of jumping a course.
- When I first introduce fillers to a green horse, I use guide rails on both sides to keep them focused. Fillers can be spooky, and there’s a lot going on, so you need them to listen. I also find that guide rails are also helpful through doubles to help keep the horse focused and straight.
- When introducing your first double, it is best to approach in trot with a placing pole in front of the first element (I aim for 2 and a half yards out) and keep it small with the distance in the double slightly shorter than it would be when approaching in canter. It is important to have the horse in front of the leg and working ‘into the bridle’. Aim to land in canter and take one or two strides, then over the second part. When the horse feels confident and forward, you can then approach in canter, making sure to adjust the distance as necessary.
In this next article, Bex shares advice on how to work with the more experienced showjumper.