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.