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Just curious, how often do you encounter refusals and why? Spook at the jump, rider error, tricky school horse? How often when you enter a class at a show do you worry about a certain jump or being eliminated?

How many of you have a true “zero stop” horse? If so, how often does your horse get schooled by a pro, if at all?

I’m just interested in what other people’s experiences are. I meet people all the time who say the horses where they came from never stopped and people who say their horses stopped all the time lol.

My current show horse I think is as close to a “zero stop” horse as you can get but she doesnt truly have zero stop. Peeks really hard at fillers and then over jumps occasionally, usually only when she’s kind of fresh anyway. She has stopped twice with me, once a bad distance to a combo + a spooky second jump but I messed up and she went over it second try no question, and once she stopped at a Liverpool but has jumped it a ton of times since then and hasn’t really cared too much. She usually is more peeky when the jumps are lower because she gets a better look at the bottom lol. But I think with a more novice rider she’d have more stops. We’ve competed up to the 1.20m and she’s never stopped in the show ring, but I’ve had to crop and sit up and push a few times to some scary jumps, but I would say 95% of the time she never doubts anything and I make plenty of mistakes. I’m not selling her ever but I’m just curious if I did, would she be considered a “zero stop” horse?

I definitely have a “zero stop” horse, and I honestly wish he had some stop/self-preservation in there for his own sake. I have gotten him to some gasp-worthy distances in our time together, and he has still left the ground (very scopey, athletic, capable horse; his, “I guess I’ll start to care/try” height is about 4’).

He has really only “peeked” at maybe … 2 or 3 jumps in our time together. He truly is as brave and honest as they come, and he has definitely made me learn how to be more accurate, since he will leave the ground, whether he should or not. I am grateful for him every day!


My current horse is green and stops pretty frequently. For him it’s a confidence thing, if he’s not sure about something or gets to a bad spot his first instinct is to stop. He’s been making so much progress as he’s built strength and confidence, and I’m not worried about it being a long-term problem. I’m the only one who jumps him, but he does get a dressage training ride once a week. I really like that he’s careful and my goal is not to train that out of him. I event so I absolutely do not want him to become a “zero-stop” horse, I want him to actively think and read the questions and know when NOT to jump too. I’d rather have him err on the side of too cautious and bring us both home safely than have him feel like he has to jump no matter what. I think with more mileage he’s going to be the perfect combination of honest and careful and scopey, he’s really a gem.

I leased a jumper who was about as close to zero-stop as possible - he was brave and incredibly athletic, and as long as he could see a way over he’d go. He was amazing for building my confidence and learning not to worry so much about finding the perfect distance, as long as I set him up well and didn’t pick at him he’d figure things out when we got there. According to his owner he was TOO brave as a young horse and she had to work hard to drill some sense into him before she could trust him to make good choices.

You really have to learn to evaluate each individual stop for what it is. There’s a huge difference between a dirty stop and a miscommunication stop and a self-preservation stop and a “I could probably have made that but I shouldn’t have to work that hard to cover your mistakes” stop. Also pay attention to what the horse does after a stop - will they come around and try again without drama or do things spiral from there? When I walk a course I always make a note of how things will look to the horse and identify potential trouble spots, I think that’s just basic prep no matter what horse you’re riding.

Your horse really doesn’t sound “zero-stop” to me since she can be looky and you think she’d stop with a less confident rider. In my mind I’d probably categorize her as ammy-friendly but not for the truly timid rider. But TBH a sale ad that said “zero-stop” would be pretty meaningless to me, since every horse should stop sometimes, maybe excepting true pro rides that get set up perfectly every single time (which would still be meaningless to me since I can’t do that).


Your horse is not “zero stop”. I think all horses ought to stop in certain circumstances because it would be more dangerous not to. I don’t fault any horse for trying to avoid a crash. Including upon last minute “oh shit” cue from the rider. Although there’s a fine line here because some jumps are going to be pretty terrible and you want to expect the horse to go or try to go. You want them thinking go. A horse that peeks is ok sometimes (can make a really nice jumping hunter), but I want one that peeks after already being committed to getting to the other side. With this type it can be a confidence thing if they stop sometimes if they aren’t truly that spooky, just a little looky. In which case, turning them into a no stop type is possible but takes work. And as mentioned, on the flip side there can be some horses that are a bit too brave or listen to the rider sometimes when they shouldn’t.


I have a zero and I mean ZERO stop horse. Chestnut mare. I’ve had her for 6 years and competed up to the 1.10s, schooled up to 1.20 and never stopped at a single jump. I’m definitely an amateur who makes mistakes, but I am very confident in my “oh shit” distances. I’m good at keeping the leg and getting out of her way.

Horses background was eventing in Europe and was clearly raised very well and brought along thoughtfully.

Echoing the others - I wouldn’t consider a horse who has stopped to be truly zero stop. I honestly don’t think there’s anything wrong with a horse who stops when it’s the right decision. I used to have a very nice FEI 1.45m horse who stopped with me at 2’6” because the distance wasn’t perfect. My above referenced 1.10m horse would’ve 3 legged it before stopping.


The Old Man is and always was zero stop. He will blow you off if your distance is wrong, and correct it himself. You can come in hot, you can come in slow. He’s been a hunter, he’s been a jumper. He’s outrageously confident and not spooky in the slightest. You could point him at something with absolutely no intelligent directions and he will make sense of it and go over.

My late mare, zero stop. Also, jump seeking missile without the experience to back it up. She absolutely would be one to wreck if you sent her at something big and solid and messed up the distance. But, she wouldn’t stop. Once she locked on, you could not GET her to stop. I actually got DQed at an eventing derby because of this.

Current young mare - if I over faced her, I think she would stop. She’s a little spooky sometimes. She did stop once in a jump chute at the Hanoverian inspection - not because of the jump, but because of the gobs of people standing behind the wall at the end of the chute. She also stopped due to the sun hitting a jump funny - she’d gone over it fine probably 20 minutes prior, but the shadows had changed and she slowly…kind…of… stopped, then hopped right over. She’s never stopped under saddle, ever. That’s my goal.

I have other examples with outside horses, but for horses that I have trained start to finish those are the most current I have on hand.


I have a young horse who has been a slow developer mentally (and physically. Has grown 3 or so inches since he turned 4). If I don’t ride him w 100 focus and attention he often gets ADD and worries about something outside the ring and will pull up to a jump. He’s not a stopper but he’s very easily distracted. So our rounds are mentally and physically exhausting for me sometimes but he’s a special jumper w an enormous stride so I’m just plugging away at getting him miles and taking my time. We are slowly getting there. Also he’s a total puppy dog in the barn.

My other two main show horses a jumper and a hunter are as honest as can be. That doesn’t mean zero stop. If I do a jump off or handy I am very aware of getting their eye on a slice jump or any jumps on a blind turn because that’s just good riding and any horse can stop. I’ve gotten bolder w my jumper but I brought him along as a baby so I was always sure he had a fair chance to see and assess the jump. He’s got enough miles now we can slice and dice more. I’m by nature a cautious rider that way having grown up on horses that stop.
My 4th jumping horse was a 3’6 conformation horse etc but ended up w a series of small injuries and trying to die from laminitis so he only gets shown when all the stars align. He’s a very bold horse who drags me to the jumps but I am always careful to the first couple of jumps because sometimes a rusher is a stopper.
I guess I’ve seen a lot of different types. My favorite are the ones you trust implicitly but I still “protect” them from having to stop.


This is such a good reminder for so many of us who get worried about stoppers. I used to own a dirty stopper who would slam on the brakes and slide into a CROSSRAIL if he didn’t feel like going. I think there were some deep pain or vet issues there so we let him retire from jumping. That one, I had stops almost daily on.

My current horse is a very close to “no stop” horse but he will run out if I ride him poorly (or stop riding at all) and will do the latter - he digs me out LOTS of times but every now and then to a sizable oxer, he’ll veer off sideways if he realizes he’s going to have to cover my a** and he doesn’t want to. We have stops maybe 10 times a year, if that. And they’re all 100% my fault :slight_smile:


I used to ride one who was the closest to a zero-stop horse I have ever ridden. I got to hunt on her and it didn’t matter what situation we got into, she carted my butt over it. I’ll never forget one time the rider ahead of us fell off right after the backside of a jump just as we were going over. This little mare contorted her entire body mid-air to not only save my butt and not put me into a tree, but also not land on the woman rolling towards us.

My own horse enjoys jumping but we’ve had a lot of “ohhh crap how did that jump get in front of me?!” moments. On the other hand she will happily dip left and take you over an unexpected cross rail just for fun when you think you are just going for a lazy canter around the ring.


This is such a nice way to think about a brave horse! :slight_smile: Keep them brave by not taking advantage of their boldness.


I have a green baby (5 years old); he is on partial training board 3d/week. He is absolutely zero stop with professionals and I would say is about 95% zero stop with me. The only time I get a stop is when I don’t get him straight before the jump.

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A lot of very BNR have been hurt by zero-stop types. It’s not necessarily a good thing.


And a lot of BNRs have been injured by the stoppers, too.

I don’t think there’s a clear “winner” between the two categories when it comes to rider safety.


I wasn’t suggesting that there is. I was only referring to the common misconception that having a zero-stop horse is desirable.


I think it depends too on the scope of the horse. My horse is an incredibly tidy jumper, more so if things get sketchy (which usually isn’t really that bad in our case). But some will hang a leg just to make the effort to get over a fence. It’s definitely a slippery slope!


My last horse was a zero stop horse and I don’t know that it was a good thing. My current horse is brave, honest and an excellent jumper. If I put him in a situation where he’s not sure he can get us out of it he will stop. If we get really weird into the first jump of a combo or if my ammy brain takes over and I pull and add and add then he stops. I appreciate his sense of self preservation and it’s always honest


While my current horse is a frequent stopper (due to being green and confidence issues) I have ridden a few horses with absolutely zero stop before. I think that only a horse who absolutely never stops can really be advertised as zero stop, but in many cases a horse that does stop because of a horrible distance or other issue is actually preferable to one that will never stop.


I have a variety of horses in that respect.

I have a “zero stop” mare. She is the absolute confidence builder of confidence builders. She is scopey, brave, and I don’t think she’s ever so much as looked at something I’ve pointed her at. She’s gone through the 1.40m and literally anyone could jump her around that height. You can eat it at 1.40m and she will simply adjust her halo and get you over it whatever it takes. She packed my young teen daughter over her first ever 1.20m and 1.30m classes this summer and I’ve never seen a kid have so much fun. She is the epitome of “zero stop” to me. The key is that she WANTS to do whatever it takes to make her rider happy. The trade-off is that she’s not ‘freaky’ clean. She typically jumps around double clears, but if you eat it, she thinks it’s ok to pull a rail in order to bail you out. And that’s the biggest difference between her and the next horse on my list…

I have a “will stop if you f up” mare. She doesn’t tend to look at jumps (though will peek every now and again). We’ve shown through the 1.30m, but I’m careful with her because I know if she feels worried or insecure, there is an objection in there, so I try to never put her in a position where she needs to bail me out. She wants to jump, so I don’t ever worry that she’ll stop for no good reason. But she thinks it’s more important to jump clean than to jump, so if she perceives that the jump is going to be ugly and require her to touch a rail, she would rather not do it (though she is freaky athletic, so can extract herself from sticky situations, even when the fences are big).

I have a “best teacher” mare. She will stop if you ride her to the bad spot and drop her. But keep your leg on and she will BAIL over any height any distance any jump (I have an amazing video of my daughter absolutely eating it into a 1.20m 1-stride where the mare achieves unicorn status, lol). But the stop will show up even at little jumps if you don’t ride. She brought my daughter up through the levels and absolutely taught her everything a horse can teach a kid. Like the others, she wants to jump, so she’s not looking for reasons to stop (and doesn’t ever do her rider dirty, and also doesn’t spook). She’s like a tattle tale to the trainer - “hey teacher! Look! Susie took her leg off right there…”

And then I had a “stopper” gelding. He was a chicken, and ended up moving into a hunter life where he is happy as a clam (and no longer stops). He was spooky and it was impossible to figure out what he would be spooky about ahead of time. He showed through the 1.20m, but just got unhappier and unhappier despite loads and loads of scope. As a jumper, he just didn’t want to jump.

I did have one horse many years ago who was a “zero stop” horse in the “absolutely no self preservation” way. That horse was scary, and we did wind up in 2 jump/falls as a result. I always wished he had a little bit of self preservation. I do think that mares tend to be able to balance the “never stop” with “also don’t kill us” things at the same time.

I think there are trade offs all around. The “never ever stops” horse is usually a trade off for freaky clean. Freaky clean is usually a trade off for “ultra brave”. For me, what I care about the absolute most is a horse who WANTS to jump. Beyond that, it’s really about tailoring to what the horse needs from the rider. But WOW does a horse who “wants” to get you around make a big difference in confidence to just about every single rider on the planet!


My current horse has no stop to the point we stopped eventing her because we had gotten to the top of our ability level as riders and couldn’t be certain that we wouldn’t mess up and get her to a bad spot with zero chance of safely making it over but she would attempt to jump it anyway.


I am going to say no, horse is not a zero stop horse.

IMO a true zero stop horse is the following description of 2 lease mares I had.

  • forward to fence & hunts them immediately upon landing from another
  • if you’re pointed at it, you’re going
  • self selects appropriate distances to a degree – since horse hunts fences and has own motor - they will also adjust their stride when a little long or a little short with limited rider input besides basic leg to hand connection. My 2 mares would lengthen between lines or shorten to make a chip less chippy - with IMO not real input from me
  • filler, shadows, liverpool, whatever - they jump. One of those mares would jump literal fire - she loved jumping so much. she could have been a police horse if she wasn’t a 16h, talented 1.20m KWPN
  • enough self preservation to know that if speed, power or something needs to be adjusted - they adjust - able to do this because they hunt jumps - theyre not “surprised” when an obstacle appears

all this to say zero stop up to a point. Both mares had limits. Older lease mare 19 yrs old her limit was 3’ - but anything below that she was like autopilot. Younger lease mare her limit was 1.10 - 1.20 then she asked you to mildly participate, anything below that I called her my literal seeing eye horse - she would adjust her stride between like 8 stride related distances on bends. She also would neaten up wonky 2 stride distance and just make so many things work. She was truly magical. I regret not buying her now like 4 years+ later.

like @PNWjumper’s first horse - both mares would have rails if you really messed up - but totally got you safely to the other side. The younger mare would super curl her toes to help you out if she liked you - but would keep the jump flat ish so you’d say with her.

Both of these horses to others were “quirky” – as in very forward, and very very sensitive - they liked to be SAT into - but you couldn’t move too much or that meant lead change or turn. Many people tried both of these mares to lease / purchase - most didn’t even get to jumping because the mares really preferred a very educated flat ride. Neither spooked at anything really - maybe a head toss or tail swish.

I learned to show jump on both of them. I was a dressage junior and very green rider to fences over 2’6. Those mares took me to 1m very quickly because they literally saw everything for me. I just had to look where we were going, put my heels down, sit, and release.