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Yearling jumping style as predictor of future success

Did none of the horses I gave you pan out?

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Unfortunately on the west coast

No :confused:

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Why do you want a 10 mover to get an upper level jumper? Not sure I have ever seen an upper level jumper I would describe that way, certainly not in the hunter sense. Buy something with good conformation, a great canter, that jumps naturally well with a good hind end (don’t look as much at the front) and you’ll be fine.


I absolutely will not “write off” a young horse based on their first free jump school. It’s always exciting to see one do well and take to it naturally from the first moment. But I’ve had some who just Did Not Get It, or were distracted, or were suspicious and too careful on the first day. Granted, I’m not out here with purpose bred jumpers who were born to snap legs to eyeballs-- I’m working with TBs, who have good natural athleticism but not necessarily natural expectations in the air.

I’m looking for the best the horse can give me on the day, and how they improve. What is their attitude like? How do they react to a mistake? How easily are they overfaced? How difficult is it to regain confidence if I accidentally ask to much? Do they seem to want to solve the puzzle? Do they make an attempt at footwork? All of these pieces are as important-- perhaps more important-- to me as an eventer, than in the raw scope I see in a yearling/2yo. Above all, I want them to learn this job is fun. It’s really tough to get want you want from the babies…many of them are athletic enough to not try over little stuff, they may look dangly, sloppy and flat. But they aren’t really ready yet for placing rails and poles to influence the shape. And if you put the jump up more to get an honest effort, you risk overfacing their fragile confidence and getting a stop. Sometimes you put them away and try again tomorrow, and things begin to click. Sometimes you put them away for 6 months and try again later, and a stunning jumper emerges.

And some of them never really look good in the jump chute but will cart you over 1.20 courses clean and fast, so what does it matter.

For me, I get enjoyment out of teaching them a new game and watching them have fun. If they show lots of talent, WOW YES! But I don’t expect to be impressed with fancy style the first or second day. What impresses me more is the smart youngsters who pick up the game quickly, show eagerness when I let them go, and display a mix of bravery and cleverness to get to the other side of the chute.

As a 2yo, my 2018 gelding was a bit apprehensive, cautious, and needed some encouragement to get through his first free jumping day. The second day he managed a moderate effort over a 2’6" oxer; not truly exciting, but he showed some effort (video: https://youtu.be/ZRUr4McpE0Y?si=j0MD52hFErdlBZcx). He has free jumped three or four times since then, and now he REALLY understands the game and has a blast. I can let him go 10-20 yards from the end of the chute, he loads himself, pops down the line, and happily finds the treat bucket at the end, clearing a 1.30m oxer with good technique. (video: https://youtu.be/bhxLU7t6LUk)


This may not be what you want to hear but I have a duty to share it.

I don’t think I can support young horses in the jump chute. My horse was put in a jump chute at 3 years old and that’s probably going to be the peak of anything he’s ever jumped. There’s no way he was conditioned enough or strong enough to withstand the forces of the jump chute and now he has chronic suspensory issues at 5 and I’m wondering if going through the jump chute as a 3 year old was the first injury.

He looked great in the jump chute but in real life he crashes through jumps, can’t keep the rails up, hits them with his back feet. Even at 2’3 he’s not competitive. And he is bred out the wazoo to jump.


There are right, and wrong ways to put horses of any age through a chute. And on top of that, it also matters how they have been living at that point. Drilling jumps on a 3yo who’s spent his life with 6-8 hours of turnout in a small pasture, is very very different from properly setting up a “can’t fail” chute scenario for a 3yo who’s lived his life out on 10 acres with a herd, running and leaping and sliding.

If a few 3’ jumps on a 3yo did damage, it’s not the jump’s fault that was just the breaking point for something else already started.


That sounds like your horse has a physical issue or injury. Maybe related to whatever he did at 3, but many, many horses work at that level (or much harder) and stay sound for a long career.

I can’t speak to how your horse was jumped, but my young horses play MUCH harder in turnout than anything I ask them to do in a chute.

Going back to the original topic, I put my race bred yearlings in the round pen for ten minutes yesterday. One of them came out and impressed me so much I’m planning to save him for a sport career. Just messing around, I put some poles out, that he did willingly. That was so easy, I dragged my spooky inflatable log into the round pen. He hopped over it really nicely. Does he look like a GP jumper? No, of course not. But this was his first time ever in a round pen, first time ever seeing an obstacle, and he was interested, eager, and thoughtful about his feet. With his big, loose trot; rhythmic canter; promising jump style; and great brain? This one is going places.


You’re right. I’m just in that head space right now of back tracking and trying to find original injury or things that could have predisposed him to it. He was not mine during that time. I bought him directly after. For 3 year olds the max was 3’7 oxer with a 4 ft spread.

Good discussion!

@sixpoundfarm has exactly this, not sure if you have seen her. By Valentino out of a lovely mare who did 1.45 herself, similarly bred to the stallion Viscount. Tracy is great to work with, too.