EN’s Young Horse Academy with Martin Douzant, Part Two: Introducing Free Jumping

Working with young horses is a rewarding experience, but it requires patience and finesse as with any other facet of equestrian sport. Martin Douzant of The Frame Sport Horses has carved out a niche within this subset of the equestrian industry, helping young horses find their footing and their future through the establishment of a solid foundation.

In the first part of this Young Horse Academy series, Martin spoke about the physical attributes of sport horses and how to best present them during competition. We move now to the introduction of free jumping – a common way to teach and display horses without the corresponding wear and tear of traditional riding.

There are two approaches for free jumping, Martin says: completely free and a “catch and release” style. He recommends the free format for introducing the horse – “I prefer starting loose so they learn more on their own” – but that moving to catch and release offers more control. In competition, you will see the catch and release format used.

What are some other key pointers Martin advises handlers to integrate?

  • Horses must be familiar with moving away from the whip – this helps handlers control the situation more
  • A minimum of three people (ideally, four or five) should be involved in free jumping for better control
  • Make sure the arena is appropriately sized and that the jumping chute is positioned properly – horses jumping toward the door or gate may rush too much
  • Observe each horse for what may help it understand better – perhaps a pole in between fences to slow down the front end or a low, wide oxer to encourage a horse with a tight back to stretch out more

Have a question for Martin? Please send an email to [email protected] and we’ll address it in an upcoming article. This series is presented in collaboration with Mythic Landing Enterprises. Happy young horse-ing!