Jumping Clinic: Improve the Crest Release

Beezie Madden examines a video of a rider and shares how to improve her crest release.

Overall: This rider’s leg is quite good, but there is room for improvement in her release. 

release
© Steven Frisbie

Leg/hip angle: The standard is blocking part of the rider’s foot, but the stirrup iron looks placed correctly with the outside bar slightly ahead of the inside bar. Her heel is down, and it looks like her toes are turned slightly out. I like the contact through her calf, knee and thigh, and the angle at her knee is very good. The angle at her hip is very good, too. 

Release: I’d like her to have a longer release, reaching farther up the horse’s crest. This will give him more freedom with his head and neck. Additionally, the horse looks as if he’s jumping out from underneath the rider, a sign that she’s not with his motion. Reaching more forward in the release will naturally put the rider’s balance farther over her horse’s withers and allow her to stay with his momentum more easily. 

Upper body: I like that her back is flat and not stiff looking. Her eyes are up and looking ahead to the next fence, which is good. 

Horse: He looks like a Thoroughbred-type, which I like. I also like his front end because he’s picking up his forearm. Though his lower legs aren’t necessarily tight, they’re OK because he’s jumping generously over the fence.  

Turnout: The turnout looks quite good. His coat is shiny. Her clothes look very good. The bottom of her boots look dirty, so she could have someone dust them off before she goes in the ring if possible. Also, I prefer a rider’s hair to be up under the helmet. 

What you’ll see in the video: The rider has her horse in a nice pace to the first fence and, in general, around the course. He swaps leads from the left to right. To hold the left lead, she should try keeping more left rein. In addition, around the ends of the ring, she looks a little behind the horse’s motion. At the fence, with that too-short release, she pops up in the air and almost gets left, slightly hitting the horse in the mouth. I want to see more release so that she stays with her horse and doesn’t interfere with his jump. Toward the end of the course, the horse gets fast, especially coming toward the in-gate. To fix that, she needs to control him with more outside rein. But I like that he’s a goer. Throughout the video, you see her ponytail flying around, which is distracting and why I don’t really like hair hanging out.  

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

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