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Trot jump tips

I am struggling with trot jumps. In nearly every attempt, I do one of the following: 1) canter the last stride; 2) get left behind because I have no idea when horse is going to leave the ground; 3) I steady too much and my horse walks (then he hops over it after doing a canter stride). Horse is doing his best. Has anyone any advice to combat these mistakes? Sitting or posting? Imagining fuzzy tranquility? Grabbing martingale? Thank you!

Start by approaching in more or less 2-pt, or at least a half-seat, with your hands in a crest release with a light feel of mane

Are YOU “cantering” the last stride with your body, or are you saying your horse is? Set up 5 trot poles, with the last one at the standards. Go through that several times in 2-pt/half seat. Then set the last 2 poles up as the X. This leaves 3 trot poles and space for takeoff, but not enough space to canter.

The poles will set the cadence, for your benefit and his. No steadying on your part necessary, so you can focus on your body


Get a trainer to help you.

Listen to their instructions.

Watch videos online of others doing it and watch them a lot. Try to project a mental image of what it looks like done well.

Have someone video your attempts so you can see the differences that you cannot yet feel.

EVERYONE goes through this. You’ll get it!!!



This is super helpful, I appreciate the exercise. I think I am initiating the canter of the last stride because I feel like we are not going fast enough to go over a jump. I see here the poles will help. Thank you!


Thank you!! I think the video and visualization will help greatly: taking time to tune in to the trainer and translate the instructions, I need to work on it.


Goes against a lot of what we’ve been taught, but try staring AT the jump on approach. It tends to back the horse off just enough that they don’t canter without you having to micromanage the trot. It’s worked for me on several horses now!

You don’t have to go fast to get over a jump. When I first started jumping lessons, about half century ago, I was reassured that the average horse can jump 3 1/2 feet from a standstill.

I watched a show that had mule divisions, and there was a jumping class, a version of “hunter” where you didn’t ride to get over fences while out hunting (not for foxes, for food) but dismounted, put something like a blanket over the (usually barbed wire) fence so the horse could see it, and got the horse to jump the fence from a standstill.

These mules jumped (no rider or saddle) over a single regular hunter-show style rail-and-standard jump, raised after each round. All size mules, some about 12 hands. All from a standstill. That jump got pretty high!


This is a really great image to keep in mind, no need for speed, the standstill jump by mules! I would have never thought such a thing existed. Thank you!


Such a thing exists by accident, too. When I was a kid, I got to go to the 4-H state fair, in Richmond, Virginia. The horse show classes were held in a giant arena with rows and rows of bleachers. My first class in there was jumping, Hunter Over Fences. I entered, did my little circle, and headed for the first jump. I was looking around the arena, kind of in awe. My pony cantered up to the jump and, because he wasn’t actively being asked to jump, he went right up to it and politely halted. (it should be pointed out that these jumps were several inches higher than we usually did, this being a higher-rated show, so that was a significant barrier for a 13-hand pony)

Well, that got my attention. I clapped my legs against his sides, and pony jumped it perfectly from a standstill. The judges must have understood, because they gave me 4th place in quite a large class.

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As I’m sure you know, it’s about elasticity and energy, not speed. Keep a light, bouncy trot to the fence. I had a coach back in the day that always hollered at me “small but powerful!” You want the step to be powerful without getting strung out. So ride a bit more leg and hand to the base to get the bouncy, elastic trot you need without cantering. Now if I could only follow my own instructions…


If you take a clinic with Lucinda Green, she will probably make you practice jumping from walk.


I like this idea of the bouncy trot and imagining bouncing to the base of the trot jump. I do think that I am worrying that legging him will make him canter, but not enough, he will walk (he does this often). But keeping the activity going with the leg and hand seems like a good aim, thank you!

It sounds like maybe you need to work through just trot poles for a bit. If he’s often walking out of a trot, he’s not forward, not in front of your leg, hasn’t learned to keep the gait and pace you asked for, until you ask for something different.


To address getting left behind, post in 2 point so you’ll be ready whenever the horse takes off.

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We definitely have speed regulation difficulties otherwise, mostly him wanting to walk when I am not truly actively trying to get him to go, this makes a lot of sense. I’ll give the poles a try.

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Thank you, I will give this a go!

I love trot jumps!

I like posting and sitting equally - I do not get into half seat or two point ahead of time as I think that makes most horses who are inclined to canter last stride move into canter.

Pretend the fence isn’t there - trot into it, let your hip angle absorb the rise to the fence. I’ve trotted fences up to about 2’9 or more like this.

Start with poles, then half raised cavaletti , then 6 inch cavaletti and up and up and up. Trot poles leading up to small efforts help, too.

If you’re walking ahead of the jump when you try to stay in trot - more inside leg to outside rein - you should be powered and connected in the trot, not relying on speed of gait. Think dressage working trot.

Also - some horses didn’t learn to specifically trot jumps - does yours trot jumps with other riders / trainers?

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Put a placement rail 8-9 feet in front to get two nice steps before the jump. Then you know when you are leaving. Get the feel. Take the pole away and try. If that doesn’t help either sit or stay a bit in your 2 point. I think w posting to the jump some of the timing of if you (g) are posting or sitting messes up our brain as to when we should get in two point . I also count 1-2-1-2-1-2 all the way to the jump. It helps keep the pace the same. Also heels down for some reasons keeps me from getting ahead.

Good luck!!


Stare at the first pole until you can’t see it anymore, then do the same for the subsequent poles and the jump.

I’d definitely use trot poles and a placing pole, as others have suggested.

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Always think about letting the fence come to you, rather then feeling like you have to drive hard at it. If your horse goes down to a baby cross rail, and feels like stepping over it, that’s cool.

Good luck!