Thoroughbreds that have raced over hurdles or fences have been schooled to jumped long, low and at speed. This is to ensure no time is wasted in the air by over jumping.  Hence they will more than likely need time to retrain, learn to approach fences at a steadier pace and bascule over a fence.  Flat horses – such as Sarah Lang’s Kingdom Warrior who competed to mini-Grand Prix (1.35m in Ireland) – can also be competitive.

This can be developed by schooling on the flat initially, asking the horse to listen to the rider by using transitions between paces and within paces, and then graduating to polework and gridwork to develop their technique.

Ideally the horse should show a natural ability to jump and carefulness not to hit poles. Sympathy must be given to those who don’t however. Time should be allowed for them to learn at their own pace about how to use their body over a jump and not just skim over the top.

A “trainable brain” and a willingness to learn are important in selecting a Thoroughbred for showjumping, but allow time for the horse to “switch off” and adjust from being in training/racing to flat work and jumping.

Jennifer Larkin grew up on a NH stud where her father, Eric Larkin, trained several winners as a permit holder & point to point handler. She has brought on young horses and OTTBs to Novice level eventing and rides out for her father, John Nallen (Minella horses) and Joseph O’Brien. In 2015 she joined the Army Equitation School and competed to Mini GP level before returning to eventing. One of her current horses is a promising ex-racehorse that she hopes will reach at least 2*.

For any advice she can be contacted at


Sarah Lang’s thoroughbred Kingdom Warrior 

(Photo: Jim Prime)