Tips To Stop Your Horse Refusing Jumps 

Imagine that you are in a competition and your horse suddenly refuses to jump an oxer or a cross rail, stops sharply and rears... It sounds like a nightmare, isn’t it? A horse unpredictably refusing to jump in training or at a show can be a real troublemaker for the rider and, far worse, he can hurt the rider by throwing him/her after the sharp stop. Besides, this situation can affect the motivation of riders and destroy the confidence they have in the saddle. 

There are several ways to train a horse in order to stop him from refusing but before that, the first step should always be investigating the reason that makes the horse stop and refuse. There can be a serious problem at the root of the frequent refuses of a horse. We advise you to check the following points and figure out the real reason.





It is a fact that most of the refusals are the result of rider errors. If your horse refuses often, you should try to consider your riding and try to identify your own mistakes. Recording a video of your riding session and watching it after to analyze is a common useful method that many riders do. In addition, you should ask your trainer or a professional to watch you and help you with the situation. The most common rider mistakes that result in refusals are these:


  • Tense Rider: Horses are able to sense the anxiety of their riders. When the rider is too tense in the saddle, the horse can feel it and change his mind deciding not to jump. You should calm your nerves before mounting the horse. Also, you can check out our blog post about “How To Become A Confident Rider.” 


  • Wrong Speed: Adjusting the speed while approaching a fence is sometimes confusing. We get you. Galloping too fast towards an obstacle doesn’t give enough time to the horse to adjust himself and take the right position while riding slower than needed can give the horse an unwillingness to jump. Even if the horse jumps at a faster or slower speed than needed, he may not be able to clear it. Therefore, many horses tend to refuse when the speed is wrong. Try to practice more and learn the pace speeds of your horse.


  • Wrong Position: Some riders tend to get into jumping position before the horse is ready to jump or before they get into the right distance with the obstacle. Leaning forward too much before the horse gets into jumping position can cause confusion for him and he may end up refusing. Try to get into the jumping position at the right moment and observe the distance. 



Health problems are the most serious factors that can be the real reason behind refusals. The horse might be in pain without the rider knowing it. Pain can cause discomfort leading the horse to refuse. Before making a judgment about your horse’s refusals, think about how often he refuses to jump. If this is new behavior, and if you are sure that it is not because of an external cause, you should check the following spots and make sure all is ok:

  • teeth,
  • back,
  • legs,
  • shoeing,
  • saddle and tack fit.


If you have any suspects of a problem after checking all these, you should consult a vet or your trainer for further help.



Some horses can spook at some obstacles. Many of them run out at triple combinations and bright fillers as well as water jumps. Observing the refusals of your horse can give you an idea about what kind of obstacles he refuses the most. If there is a certain type that he always refuses, you can understand that there is something wrong about that obstacle for your horse. When you recognize this, you can isolate the arena and work only on that type of jumps with your horse.



Same as the jumps, some horses might be uncomfortable with a certain pattern and refuse a jump in the middle of it. Try different patterns with your horse and observe when he refuses. When you find that one bothering pattern, try to focus and work on it so that your horse can feel more and more comfortable by time.



After finding the real cause of the refusals, you can try the following tips with your horse  to build stronger confidence together and give him the time to become more comfortable:




  1. Try Different Exercises 

Trying different types of exercises is beneficial in many ways but it can be a good way to change the boring jumping routine. Horses can get bored of doing the same thing every single day. If you keep training for jumping, your horse can get bored of jumping after some time. You can search for different flat work patterns or get help from your trainer and try something different time to time. You can also try ground works to improve your bond together.



  1. Lower the Bar 

The best way to rebuild confidence is probably lowering the bars and reducing the height. This can be an effective way to regain self-esteem for both the rider and the horse. The more they jump successfully, the more they can rebuild the confidence. So, the jumps should be low enough to clear without a problem. After jumping a certain height successfully several times, the height can be changed.




  1. Be patient and rewarding

It is common to see riders who rush after their horse refuses a jump. The truth is rushing and making the horse run at a faster pace will make him more confused and he will be more likely to refuse once again. If your horse refuses a jump, don’t rush! Be patient and try again at a slower speed so that you can control the situation better if he refuses once again. Try not to turn around or let him run out. Gently encourage him to jump and give rewards after he jumps correctly.


  1. Practice Practice and Practice 

Practice makes everything perfect. Take your time and give your horse enough time to practice together. Try to focus on your weaknesses during your practices. As we mentioned above, investigate the jumps and patterns that your horse refuses the most. Practice together using different obstacles, fillers, trying different patterns. Let the horse gain his own confidence and concentrate on getting to know each other.


  • Lynn

    It might be a heath issue Romi

  • Romi

    Hi, what should I do if I have a pony that once jumped 120 cm and now refuses to jump 70 cm.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.