When done well, loose jumping can be of great value to the overall training of both horse and rider.
I personally like if the horse lunges well and responds to body language of the handler without undue stress or worry. I like that the horse goes forwards when asked and slows down when asked and does so reliably as when jumps come into play the excitement can sometimes override training.
It’s a good practice to do 1-2 loose schooling sessions letting the horse trot and canter in the corridor (built alongside the wall with poles, stands, fillers) without anything in it yet to jump. The idea is to get the horse to travel in a calm manner through the corridor, maintaining rhythm and tempo.
If they tend to lose balance in the corners or go into them too deeply, it might help to put a pole on the ground across the corner to encourage smoother turns.
ONE JUMP CORRIDOR
For horses that never loose jumped or young horses learning to jump, I like the single jump in the middle of the corridor and oxer is often a good first choice as it invites the horse to jump out of the stride.
Watching young horses learn to set pace and distance to those jumps is fascinating and a great lesson for the rider who will ride the horse to the jump later.
For horses who have some experience loose jumping and for older horses with various undesirable jumping habits, well thought lines could be a super addition to their jump training.
I personally like the lines with bounces leading to oxers as they tend to teach focused, energetic entry into the line, quick front and back end action with a good weight shift from front legs to back legs and vice versa followed by an onwards, positive strides to the oxers. I have seen a very good results with those kind of lines in horses that tend to jump tight or hollow in the back or don’t open through the shoulders over the jumps.
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My other favourite ones are those that correct possibly the most common habit in horses ridden by less experienced riders and that’s shortening of the stride on take off (chipping in). By clever placement of the ground poles and adjustment of the distances, the horse can build its own confidence in finding the optimal stride and the rider can watch the horse as it does so.
EXAMPLES OF BENEFITS TO HORSES AND RIDERS
great re-training tool for horses with difficult jumping habits (hollow back, dangling front leg(s), crooked jumping etc)
good introduction to jumping for young horses
develops a thinking, aware horse that learns to act on his tempo and adjust energy for efficient jumping efforts
re-establishing confidence in horse’s natural ability without influence of the rider
riders learn to “read” their horse’s movement on the approach, take off and landing which can improve harmony with the horse when mounted
riders learn to “read” the distance in relation to tempo by observing how the horse tackles different problems
riders learn to understand their own horse’s preferred jumping style which can help to decrease unnecessary interference
riders build own confidence in their horses’ ability to jump “by themselves” (especially good for riders who over-ride and try to “carry their horse over the jump”)
riders can observe and understand the biomechanics of the jumping horse, how they use their neck, back, shoulder so when mounted, the riders actions like sufficient give with the hand or not sitting down too early on landing, increase in meaning and importance.