You might be wondering how riders make a horse jump, but first, let us find out horses actually like jumping or is it done against their will. Horses enjoy various activities and jumping is one of them (if performed correctly, without kicking or smacking the horse). However, just like people, horses have their own characters and some might prefer the old flatwork or hacking, instead of jumping. According to Equestrian Co. when horses were given the choice to take a shortcut and jump over a fence to reach food, or simply take the longer way and walk around the obstacle, only 10% of horses took the shortcut and jumped the fence, while, 60% of horses simple walked to the food. Sport horses were more likely to jump which explains that their outlook on jumping improves with training.
In horse racing tournaments, you often find horses jumping over fences and pools of water. This, of course, is a fantastic sight for the onlooker however when it comes to jumping over pools of water and fences a fundamental question might come into your mind as to whether the rider influences the jump or not?
When it comes to popular belief most people think or for that matter, believe that the position and the movement of the rider’s body will influence the jumping off the horse. They have control over speed and technique of the horse. Now the question that comes to mind is it is true? Experts have conducted numerous studies, and behavior patterns of horses and they have debunked this popular belief that the rider of the horse influences its jumps during taking-off and landing!
Riders do not influence the jumps of horses
Now there was a recent study conducted by scientists at The Limerick University in Ireland. They observed riders with no or many years of experience ride the same horse. They observed horse jumps over 1.05 meters or 3.5 feet approximately. When experienced or even a novice rider was riding the same horse, there was no difference in the behavior of the horse when it approached the fence. This video footage was studied carefully, and the experts discovered that the levels of experience have nothing to do to influence the jumping off the horse during taking offs and landing. The horses were consistent when they were taking jumps, and the position and the movement of the rider did not influence their mode of jumping at all.
When it comes to racing horses like the Breeders Cup 2017 entries and the like, they have trained in such a way that the levels of experience of the rider have no significant impact on their jumps at all. In fact, these horses are adept that the distance from where they take off the jump or land is more or less the same.
When it comes to carrying the weight of their riders, most horses are trained to carry their rider and saddle. However, like all living creatures, they do have their limits. They can carry 15%-20% of their body weight without any signs of stress. However, if the weight of the rider is about 25% of their body weight, there are signs of physical strain. This aggravates if horses are made to bear around 30% of their body weight. In fact, it is essential for trainers to strength train their horses by making them trot around without feeling sore and tired.
Therefore, when it comes to jumps and carrying the weight of their riders, these horses need to be trained. They have skills when it comes to jumping without the rider influencing its decision. However, when it comes to the weight of the rider, it is essential for you to note that you must ensure that the horse is not made to carry over 30% of its body weight if you do not want it to get sore and tired before and during the race.
Editor’s Note: Glenda Martin is a racing horse trainer and jockey. She trainers are participating horses for professional tournaments like the Breeders Cup 2017 entries and also writes horse care blogs on how to train them.