A horse that rushes fences is not an animal that “loves to jump,” as uneducated riders often remark, but rather is the horse that is anxious about jumping. Once a horse has learned to rush, it is difficult to break the habit. It may take many hours and much patience to develop trust between the horse and rider again. In fact, it is best to remove an inexperienced rider from a rusher and place him on a horse that is very dull, requiring little hand pressure and steady leg pressure, so that the rider can learn the correct use of his aids. Conversely, it is wise to put a well-educated, patient rider on the rusher, so that the horse can be properly retrained.
There are several exercises used to teach a horse not to rush, all of them based on the idea of denying it the chance to run to the fences—and all of them starting from the posting trot. First, you can pull up (halt) in front of the fence, not with harsh, jerking hands that get the horse even more excited, but with quiet, but firm hands that teach the horse to be obedient. Of course, your hands should soften the feel on the reins as the horse slows down, rewarding the horse for its obedience. Secondly, you can circle on the approach to the fence until the horse becomes quieter and stays in the same rhythm. You may circle as many times as it takes for the horse to calm down. Your third option is to halt and back the horse several steps. This is effective on a quick, pulling horse; but it only works to slow down and soften the horse if you back the animal using mostly leg pressure. Pulling the horse backward with your hands only hurts its mouth and eventually will lead to a “dead mouth,” in which the nerves are so damaged that the horse no longer can feel pressure on its mouth.
Remember, it is never appropriate to incessantly hang on a horse’s mouth. This, more than anything else, causes horses to rush in fright and to stop at fences.