Jumping Clinic: Balance Over Fences

Beezie Madden offers a suggestion to avoid balancing on your horse's mouth over fences.

Overall: This rider is perfectly in the center of balance with the horse and his jump, though she needs to be careful that she’s not balancing on his mouth in the air.

Courtesy, Winslow Photography

Leg: The placement of the stirrup on her foot is excellent, and her heel is down below the stirrup. Her leg is just behind the girth. The angle at her knee is excellent, allowing her seat to be pushed out of the saddle appropriately. She has contact with her knee, but she’s gripping more with the back of her calf. 

Hip angle: I love her hip angle, which is closed the correct amount for this size fence. 

Release: Although this rider probably has good balance, because of the angles in her leg and hip, she looks a little like she’s using her horse’s mouth for balance. There doesn’t need to be a loop in the reins, but I’d like to see a little less tension in them in the air unless she’s actually trying to turn the horse to the right. If she is, she needs to have a slight opening right rein a little farther away from the horse’s neck. 

Upper body: Her back is really nice. It’s flat but not too stiff looking. Her eyes are good looking to the right at the next fence.

Horse: The horse has very good style with his front legs; he’s not quite as tight as the first horse, but I like that his forearms are up. He’s making a beautiful picture over this fence. He’s also a little bit of a flat jumper instead of lowering his head and neck and rounding his back.

Turnout: The tack fits well, and the horse is plaited nicely. The rider’s attire looks excellent. 

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.