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The Oldenburg is one of the most popular of the show horse breeds or crosses and is considered to favor the hunter style of body. This means that the horse has a good leg length, strong and well proportioned body, as well as good jumping ability and movement between jumps. Teaching the Oldenburg show jumping or hunter seat is almost a natural with these horses seeming to take to the show ring with much less training than other breeds. As with any type of horse there will be some Oldenburgs that are more athletic than others, and not all Oldenburgs make show jumping horses, but most will make excellent riding horses.
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The Oldenburg is considered to be an easy to handle horse that is competitive but not high strung or flighty in competition. Training needs to start at an early age and will include halter training, desensitization and basic dressage training. Although many Oldenburgs will not continue on to dressage competitions, it is considered to be the most effective way to teach the horse flexibility, balance and focus, the skills most needed for show jumping. In addition to just having the raw athletic ability, the Oldenburg show horse has to be under control at all times on the course. They need to be able to focus on the jumps and respond to the rider's aids or cues without hesitation or fighting the rider.
Training for show jumping starts with the horse and rider learning to effectively communicate through the use of the reins, body movement and legs pressures and cues, know as aids. After the horse and rider are in synch, the next step is to start on the low level jumps. These jumps are usually vertical bars, and are designed to teach the horse to collect his or her self before the jump, balance through the jump and land and move forward in response to the rider. As the horse and rider learn these skills, the type and size of jumps are gradually increased.
As the Oldenburg matures he or she will then be challenged with newer patterns and courses as well as different types of jumps. Some of the more challenging jumps will include water obstacles where the horse will have to jump over shallow water or jumps placed over water and double verticals, also known as oxers, which present a much wider type of jump. The wall is a particularly challenging type of jump as it is made to look solid, even though it is very safe and will easily come apart if the horse should happen to hit the wall at any time in the jump. A combination jump includes several jumps in a row with just a few strides in between, meaning that the horse and rider have to be in total synchronization so the horse is collected to make the next jump.
The Oldenburg can be used in all type of show jumping, but may also be used in hunter seat, where jumping is combined with more movement, more like a typical hunting course would be. The Oldenburg can excel at this type of event as the smooth movement of the horse as well as their athletic ability makes a terrific combination.
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