I always try to keep in mind the rules from Effective Horsemanship, by Noel Jackson. If they've never seen a chute before, start them cantering through over just poles on the ground. Build it up slowly. Give them lots of verbal praise. When they start swapping leads to add power over the jump, quit for the day. Always end with bitty jumps to trick them into thinking jumping is easy when they go home.
I had a trainer, long long ago who swore by free-jumping for gymnasticizing and strengthening her jumping horses. She'd primarily have the riders do dressage and small courses, then once every two weeks she'd build a jumping lane filled with gigantic, terrifying jumps and let her expert jumpers navigate it. She almost never allowed the good jumpers to school over large fences with riders. She claimed it ruined their natural "forwardness", and was too damaging to their legs. Hey, whatever works, I suppose. She ran into the most trouble when her riders hadn't jumped a 3'6" fence in six months and were expected to ride a whole course of them at a show.
We started with Oakley, who is freaking cute. He's never been in a jumping lane before but his whole attitude was mellow and it was actually work to keep him moving! It was funny though because one of his problems is impulsion under saddle, and I TOTALLY see where that's coming from because of the way his owner clucks and clucks and wiggles the whip and hassles him along.
|Starting out small...|
|Look at that face! "Ohmygod why is this so hard!"|
|Goober decided that the 1-stride in between jumps was UNNECESSARY!|
|So then this happened a lot.|
|"Did I hear you complaining about long distances?"|
|"Baby, I'll show you distances like you've never seen."|
|"Oooh shit, I didn't really think that through."|
Camou, on the other hand, was decidedly more athletic. He also had a very calm, mature attitude (after he got cast in the arena fence and then had a meltdown about the scratch on the inside of his leg... but let's not talk about that).
Danny was not feeling it today. He didn't really want to be jumping, but he also did some really collected work yesterday and he's also still sort of fat so maybe jumping big fences isn't really on the docket for him for a while.
|Okay so this is a weird moment for him.|
|HE LOOKS SO DRAFTY AND I LOVE IT|
|Can you believe I'm planning on eventing this creature?|
|Yes. Galloping across hill and dale, PLUS DRESSAGE.|
|"But wait! There's more!"|
Anyhow it was really fun, and a very nice change from focusing on Danny's counter canter & half-pass, Tango's brakes, Camou's accelerator, Jimmy's steering, Bert's suppleness, etc.