Horse Jumping Lessons For Beginners

Last Updated on March 25, 2022

Starting horse jumping lessons for beginners is an exciting stage for any novice horse rider. We all dream of effortlessly popping over fences on horseback!

But it is important to start on the right foot (or hoof!) and learn to jump at your own pace. Let’s take a look at how horse jumping lessons for beginners will help you to do this.

How Long Does It Take To Learn Horse Jumping?

Every rider is different, and some might learn to jump quite quickly, while others need a bit longer to learn to jump a horse for the first time. It also depends on your horse as well – remember that you are a partnership and you need to learn together!

It is better not to rush into learning to jump a horse, as it might knock your confidence and make you reluctant to try again. A course of beginner horse riding lessons will make sure you have covered the basics of flatwork before jumping a horse for the first time.

How Long Does It Take To Learn Horse Jumping

However, if you are feeling confident and have a calm, steady horse, then go for it! Ask your instructor if they feel you are ready to start horse jumping lessons for beginners. A good instructor will be honest with you about when you can start jumping and help you to work towards your goals.

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How Hard Is Learning To Jump A Horse?

Learning to jump a horse is one of the hardest aspects of horse riding, but the more you prepare for taking this step the easier it will be.

Learning to jump a horse is difficult as it is unlike anything else you will have done on horseback so far. This is because the movements a horse makes when he jumps are powerful and can easily unbalance the rider.

A Horse’s Jump Has Five Phases

  1. Approach – when the horse sees the jump, he will adjust his stride to find the perfect takeoff point.
  2. Takeoff – the hindlegs propel the body of the horse upwards and forwards.
  3. Flight –all four limbs have left the floor, and the horse is arcing over the fence.
  4. Landing – the forelimbs land first, quickly followed by the hindlimbs. This is often the hardest part for a rider to sit through without losing their balance!
  5. Recovery – during the first stride after the jump, the horse will rebalance and return to his normal gait.

The hard part for the rider is learning to follow this motion without becoming unbalanced. This is where the preparation and hard work come in!

Can Beginner Horse Riding Lessons Help When Learning To Jump?

Yes, beginner horse riding lessons are pretty much essential when learning to jump!

Many people will tell you that they learned to ride and even jump without lessons, but a good instructor will not only help you to learn faster but will also develop you into a better rider.

Beginner horse riding lessons will help to develop the following to prepare you for learning to jump:

  • A secure, deep, and balanced seat.
  • An ability to move effortlessly with the horse.
  • Gentle, soft hands which do not hinder the horse.
  • Soft but effective aids.

All of these will make the transition from flatwork to jumping seem effortless. Put in the work here and you will be popping over little fences in no time!

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How To Jump A Horse For The First Time

Follow these steps during your beginner horse riding lessons when learning to jump a horse for the first time. It is important to master one step before moving onto the next.

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  • Flatwork

Yes, I know we are talking about jumping, but how you approach and ride away from a jump is very important. A reputable instructor will not suggest that you start learning to jump a horse until you have mastered the basics of flatwork.

Before starting to jump, you should be able to sit securely with good balance at a walk, trot, and canter, and through transitions between gaits. Developing a secure seat is vital to make sure that you do not become unbalanced or fall off when learning to jump a horse for the first time.

  • Jumping Position

Developing a secure jumping position is vital to help you stay balanced in the saddle as the horse goes over the jump.

In jumping position, the stirrups are shortened by a couple of holes, your weight is lifted slightly out of the saddle and the upper body is tilted forward. The hands move up the neck to give the horse freedom of his head over the jump. Learning how to master this position while riding on the flat will make popping over your first jump far easier!

  • Pole-work

Pole-work is a great training exercise that should always be part of horse jumping lessons for beginners.

You might be itching to start popping over jumps, but do not underestimate how hard riding over poles can be! When a horse walks, trots, or canters over a pole their gait feels very different. Learning to sit through this movement without losing balance is vital when learning to jump a horse.


Your instructor may start with just one pole on the ground to walk over. This will be built up into a series of poles for you to ride over, firstly at a trot and then canter.

When you can ride over these comfortably, the poles will be raised slightly to encourage the horse to lift his legs and body higher. Your instructor may start to ask you to go into a jumping position as you ride over raised poles.

  • Your First Jump!

Finally, the moment is here – your first jump! Now, you may have done all the preparation but don’t be disappointed if it feels uncomfortable at first. It can take several tries before you feel that you move comfortably with the horse over the jump.

When learning to jump a horse, your first jump should be a small cross pole. This gives you a center point to aim for, helping you to ride over the jump in a straight line.

You can ride over your first jump at a trot or a canter, but normally a trot is easier. If your horse is an experienced schoolmaster, he should take you over the jump, allowing you to focus on your jumping position and balance.

Your First Jump!

And voila – you have jumped a horse for the first time!

Continue trotting over the cross pole until you feel comfortable. The next steps would be to raise the cross pole to a straight bar and working on popping over the jump at trot and canter.

Are You Ready To Start Horse Jumping Lessons For Beginners?

The key to success when learning how to jump a horse for the first time is to take it slowly! Make sure that you’ve got the basics mastered before moving onto the next stage. Follow these steps for horse jumping lessons for beginners and you’ll be flying around a small course of jumps in no time!

Do you have any questions about horse jumping lessons for beginners? Add a comment below this post and we’ll get back to you!

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What is the correct jumping position?

The correct jumping position is one where the rider forms a straight line from their shoulder, through their elbow and knee, and down to the ball of their foot. Their body should be slightly higher than the height of their horse’s withers. If you are riding a western-style saddle, you may find yourself in a different position as compared to English riders.
How can I improve my jumping? In order to improve your jumping, you must first identify the weak points of your riding. This can be done by watching your own performance and comparing it to the performance of other riders. If you have been training for a while, you may have a strong core. This means that your body is very stable when you ride, which will help you avoid falling when you jump.

Does horse jumping take skill?

Showjumping is a sport that definitely takes skill, as well as athletic ability, and mental awareness. However, many people don’t realize that there are quite a few skills involved with showjumping, including the knowledge of horsemanship and riding. If you are able to keep your horse in good physical shape by regularly exercising them, brushing them down, and grooming them, you will also be able to develop a strong bond with your equine friend, which will make it easier to understand how to get your horse into the right lead, adjust horse’s stride, and how to cue a horse to jump. A good rider will understand their horse’s body language, and they will know how to adjust their own body in order to communicate with their horse more effectively. 

What age should you jump a horse?

Some trainers start jumping horses as early as at age of 3 years old, while others start at age 4 or even later. It’s good to start young and get some exercise into your horse, but don’t push the limits until your horse is old enough. Normally horses keep growing until they’re about 7 years old, only after that time their bodies are completely developed. You don’t have to wait until your horse is 7 years old, though. But if you start training too early, your horse can develop back and joint problems and risk serious injuries.

What is harder dressage or jumping?

Riders that already mastered dressage often have an easier time learning the jumping than vice versa. Most riders will find the dressage training to be one of the most difficult of the different disciplines, as it requires more technical ability than other disciplines. Dressage also require the ability to adapt quickly to changes in direction, which makes it more challenging but at the same time it gives a horse and a rider a very good foundation to learn jumping.
On the other hand, many riders are afraid of jumping and the fear itself can make this discipline difficult to learn. This is because there are many factors involved in jumping, such as the height of the fences, the shape of the fences, the angle of the jumps, the number of obstacles, the technique, horse’s conformation, etc. It’s not difficult to understand that all of this can seem a bit intimidating to a beginner.