Reasons Why Your Horse May Refuse at Jumps

What should you do if your horse refuses?


You know it can happen. You were balanced and had a great pace to your first fence. You hit your spot and continued on to your second fence. Unfortunately your horse has a different idea!

Instead of neatly tucking up his legs (or her legs) to complete the jump s/he veered around the jump sending you sideways and almost into the jump.
WHAT GIVES? You’ve jumped that high, the course isn’t difficult.

We’re going to review what is going on and what you can do in the show ring.

Why is my horse refusing?

First things first. Why is your horse refusing?

It could be a whole bunch of reasons.

  1. Maybe s/he is sore somewhere. Hooves, legs, shoulders, back, mouth.
    This means you will have to do some investigation.
  2. Maybe you are interferring with the horse. Getting left behind, pulling on the mouth, getting too far ahead,
  3. Maybe the horse doesn’t feel comfortable, the jumps are too high, too white or too many flowers.
  4. Maybe you are not committed to going over the jump.
  5. Or maybe it is a combination of some or all of the above.

Is your horse sore?

If you think your horse is sore, it may be a good idea to get a professional to look at it. Sore hooves, back or legs could cause your horse to refuse because when the horse lands from a jump it will send pain into the horse’s body. That’s not good right?

If everytime you took a step there was a pain somewhere, you wouldn’t jump either. It is a good idea to have a trained professional give your horse the “once-over” checking for soreness.

It is always a good idea to rule out this first. Ruling out soreness is important because if your horse is sore, you don’t want to keep riding him/her. Right?


Think about your saddle fit. Ive seen horse’s buck after fences because their saddles were too tight. It could be that the saddle fit is uncomfortable and pinching the horse’s withers.


Check for heat, pain and swelling in your horse’s legs. Any sign of heat pain/swelling could be a sign of pain. Check your horse’s hooves, legs and back.

Are you interfering with your horse?

Interfering means, getting left behind, balancing on the horse’s mouth, reins or generally out of balance with your horse. If you are not in balance with your horse it makes it difficult for your horse to jump and they may start to stop.


To fix this, stay in balance with your horse! Check out my other videos with exercises to improve your position right here.


Is your horse uncomfortable?

Are you over facing your horse? This means are you showing over jumps that are bigger than you have done at home, more complex, or scarier?

If the horse doesn’t have the confidence s/he may refuse because s/he is unsure how to proceed. This may cause refusals.

To fix this – design your riding/training program to include elements that you may find at horse shows.

This could include flowers, boxes, gates, hay bales. You get the picture.


Are you not committed?

Remember your horse can feel everything that is going on with you and if you are not committed to going over that jump, then he won’t be either.

If you approach the jump and


If refusals and run-outs are becoming habit, it’s time to take a serious look at why sometimes your horse just says, “No!” Here are four common stopping scenarios, their possible causes and ways to rehabilitate your riding and your horse’s mindset.

7 Things you Should Do in Your Equitation Over Fences.

In today’s podcast we will go over 7 things you should do in your equitation over fences class.

As usual Subscribe, download and comment on my podcast.
If you’re tired of riding around in circles, quite literally and looking for your riding to be transformed, send me an email and you can get your own personal program designed for you.

Are you ready to get started?

These are simple things that the judge would like to see and could make the difference between getting a ribbon and placing and not.

  1. this is the most important thing. Get to all of the fences.
    No Refusals, run outs or disobediences. No chips, and no knock downs. Sounds simple enough. There is nothing a judge hates more than seeing a competitive athlete mess up a great equitation round because of a major error.
    No chips. That means you have to meet each fence correctly. You should, as a rule of thumb, leave the ground for the jump, the height of the jump away. That means if you are jumping a 3 foot fence then the horse should leave the ground approximately 3 feet away from the fence. If you get too close, that could be a chip.
    A chip is when a horse gets too close to the jump and has an iddy biddy stride just before take off.
  2. Get the correct striding between fences.
    If the striding is a related distance then getting the correct number of strides is important.
  3. Have your heels down and correct leg position.
    Your heel and leg position is the foundation for your riding. If your heel isn’t down and leg secure, your position is in jeopardy. One of the first things a judge will see and remark on in your equitation is the position of your leg and heel.
    Your leg and heel is the base of support for your position. A weak heel means a weak lower leg, which leads to a weak base of support for your riding position. If one is weak it will lead to weakness all areas of your riding.
    Your ankle should be supple and absorbing. Heels down is not a good thing if they are jammed down and forced into a stiff, awkward position. they should be down, relaxed and absorbing the movement of the horse.
    A weak base will lead to getting left behind at fences, falling forward at fences and generally bad riding.
  4. Eyes and head should be up looking forward to the next fence.
    This is necessary for you as the rider knowing where you must go but also so the horse knows where he is supposed to go. This is important for the horse. When you as the rider looks forward and around turns and corners it provides shifts in your body position and weight that the horse can feel so they understand where they are supposed to go next.
    Think of it like riding a bicycle or driving a car, you have to look where you are going! or you may drive off the road!
  5. Have an even rhythm throughout. A steady rhythmic round gives a lovely impression and shows off your riding. If your round is fast/slow/fast it detracts from the overall appearance and could cause difference in stride length which in turn may cause adding strides in a line.
  6. Have balanced planned corners. Remember there are 8 fences in a hunter course, but there are many more strides, corners and turns. Having a balanced turn, rounded corners will improve your approach to your fence and give a thoughtful, polished look.
    Cutting corners will make your round appear choppy and unplanned. This leaves the horse unbalanced to the fence and sometimes results in a poor jump.
  7. Have excellent turnout. Looking the part with proper attire,neat conservative jacket and clean, well fitted tack sends a polished image. You have to back it up with a matching round.

These are just some of the top things that judges would like to see. Remember


Some Fun Judges Short Hand – Ignite Your Equitation

As a Hunter/Jumper judge we get to watch lovely horses all day.

Sometimes however, things may not go according to plan! Here are a collection of a few fun and interesting SHORT HAND codes some judges have used to help them determine who should be placed at the top of the score card!

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What are You Doing With Your Hands

Ignite Your Equitation

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Reasons You Don’t Win at Horse Shows

Ignite Your Equitation

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