Jumping Clinic: Adjust the Leg for Better Balance

Beezie Madden explains how the leg and seat affect balance.

Overall: This rider has a beautiful release, but she needs to adjust her leg for better balance.

© Brant Gamma Photos

Leg: I like the placement of the stirrup on the ball of her foot with the outside bar of the iron slightly ahead of the inside. Her heel is down, but she’s shoving her leg forward in the air. She needs to press down in her heel while she bends her knee to keep that angle closed more. 

Seat/Hip angle: Her seat is a little farther back in the saddle than is necessary, and when that happens, a rider always has to catch up with her body. This rider is not bad, but on the landing, she’ll be more prepared for the next fence if she has her seat a little more toward the front of the saddle and more bend in her knees. Then she’ll be more in the center of the balance of her horse. I get the feeling this horse is jumping out from underneath her. 

Release: I like this almost automatic release with nearly a straight line from the rider’s elbow to her hand to the horse’s mouth. This release goes with the horse’s motion but maintains connection with his mouth. It makes control during the takeoff and landing more consistent, and the rider can control the horse on the landing a little more.

Upper body: Her back is flat but not stiff looking, and her eyes are looking ahead to the next fence.

Horse: This horse’s front end is good but a little uneven. He’s very relaxed and a little rounder in his neck and back than the first two horses. He has a super expression with his ears up. He looks like he’s enjoying his job. 

Turnout: The horse’s coat is shiny, the plaits are beautiful and everything fits well. It’s nice to see the snaffle in his mouth. I’d like to see the extra piece of stirrup leather shorter to keep it from flapping and potentially hitting the horse.  

About Beezie Madden

Beezie Madden captured Olympic show-jumping team gold medals in 2004 as well as 2008, where she also earned the individual bronze medal, all riding Authentic. She won the FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in 2013 with Simon and in 2018 with Breitling LS. Other accolades include an Olympic team silver medal in 2016 riding Cortes ‘C’, with whom she also took World Equestrian Games team and individual bronze medals. S Most recently, she won the prestigious CP ‘International’ at CSIO Spruce Meadows in September. he and her husband, John, are based out of John Madden Sales in Cazenovia, New York.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2022 issue of Practical Horseman.

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