Eugene the Jumping Mustang

We’ve been trying to get Eugene jumping, but he really struggles with the concept. He’ll go forward over anything, but tries to just trot over it and knocks high poles down.


He’s trying very hard and being a good boy, but it’s more like he just doesn’t understand the idea of lifting up and jumping the obstacle. So we brought one set of standards and poles down to the lower arena to let him go over them freestyle without a rider interfering.

This was rather a mixed success. Most of the time, he just trotted over the jumps:


We did get a few attempts to jump, especially if we got him cantering at the jump, but the arena is so small, it’s actually a bit hard for horses to canter in there.


After doing a bit of this work, we tacked up and rode and then turned them out in the small arena to roll. After rolling, I went in with the lunge crop and asked Nilla to pop over the little jump. Eugene followed her and finally actually jumped. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures that night, but we repeated the process again another night. Something about following Nilla around has really taught him how to jump.


Of course, Nilla hates this. Eugene wants to go a lot faster than her and keeps running up her butt, pissing her off. So we let him go in front and he jumped it without the lead in, though with a bit more hesitation.


Although there’s still a lot to be worked on, this little trick of jumping him with Nilla has translated to under saddle jumping.



The last two pictures are from my husband’s last lesson with Seasonal Trainer. She’s done for the spring and we won’t see her until one visit in July and then not again until fall. So we’re on our own for a bit to continue Eugene’s progression. We’ll probably keep doing a mix of free jumping and under saddle work. Does anyone have any other tricks/training advice to help horses learn to jump?


Edit: This would have been the first post of 5 in the customized prize contest, but it published early because I apparently never changed my settings away from time zone zero. I have fixed that going forward. Wednesday’s post will now start the 5 posts to comment on. Sorry for the confusion.

33 thoughts on “Eugene the Jumping Mustang

  1. Teresa

    so I get the feed auto on blogger- so that’s good. Eugene is such a good boy. The only thing I could think of would to set up some grids to help him figure it out.

    1. Olivia Post author

      I’ve thought about grids, but I’m just not sure he’s up to it yet. Maybe some baby grids with a mix of poles and cross-rails.

    1. Olivia Post author

      He needs to reminder. He’s constantly in her space. Like she’ll be rolling and he’ll literally be standing over her. I keep telling her she needs to put him in his place.

    1. Olivia Post author

      It honesty worked a lot better than I thought it would. Maybe he could follow her through a grid… wheels turning…

  2. Carly

    Love the idea of letting him follow Nilla! I always try to teach newbies over tiny xc logs and things. If they whack them they don’t fall down and they get a little sting that says, hey maybe I should get my legs out of the way next time!

    1. Olivia Post author

      I like this idea! I’ve been wanting to build some XC jumps for Nilla anyway. Maybe we can find a log somewhere. Thanks.

  3. Appydoesdressage

    Learning experiences make for a solid education, just keep working on it. If he does so much better with follow the leader, no reason you can’t keep on that path for a while as he figures it out.

  4. sarahczspots

    He’s trying though. That’s what matters. I’m glad he’s working out so well and that Nilla is being a (mostly) good teacher mule. 🙂

  5. emma

    this is how my trainer had my friend start her 4yr old ottb over fences. but there was actually no rush to get the horse actually jumping – just trotting was fine while she figured it all out. she had to knock the rails a bit at first, and trip and stumble a little bit, and there was no rush to canter either as the trainer prefers the horse get there on her own in her own comfort. but we definitely took advantage of giving the horse leads over fences (while being ridden, not at liberty) to help give extra guidance. i’m sure Eugene will start figuring it out soon!

    1. Olivia @ DIY Horse Ownership

      He doesn’t need to canter, it’s more that he actually jumps while canter instead of awkwardly lifting his feet over while trotting. I hadn’t thought about trying the lead over while riding. Maybe we’ll do that sometime.

  6. LoveLaughRide

    We’ve used leads in free jumping as well! I had a hose that jumped fine under saddle but could not figure out free jumping. So we put a super reliable jumper in with her and he taught her to hunt the fences (he never needs to be chased, you just let him go and he will jump until you take the jumps down).

  7. Niamh

    I love free jumping for the green ones. Even free jumping on a lunge line over xc jumps ) would be great too. I always find that it takes them a few sessions to figure out what to do with their legs, but adding fill like a barrel, etc really helps them get up off the ground. I’d also set a ground rail in front of the fence to encourage them to jump up and over. Nilla’s reaction is hilarious:)

  8. jenj

    All the free jumping! It really lets them figure out what to do with their feet without a rider. Trot poles to a jump can help too, and filler under the rails can get them to pick up their feet.

    Nilla is hilarious!

  9. Stephanie Peck

    Clever thought to have Nilla lead the way! A young OTTB I started a few years ago never really got the knack of jumping- she’d always just plow through. It’s funny how some of them seem to pick it up right away, while others take a little longer for the light bulb to go off!

  10. Hannah

    He certainly learned everything he knows about jumping from Nilla. He even copied her aerodynamic “100% concentration” face over the jump. Better quit before she teaches him about lizards. 🙂

  11. Fig

    Sturdier jumps were my first thought, but I think you’ve already got that covered and they’re pretty sturdy. Fetti doesn’t bother actually jumping anything under 2′ – sometimes higher – so I’ll have to try some of these myself.

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