Jumping Clinic: Too-Far Back Seat

Beezie Madden reviews a video of a rider and explains what can happen to your position if your seat is too far back.

Overall: This rider’s seat is too far back in the saddle, restricting her ability to give the horse freedom to reach forward with his head and neck as well as his forward momentum.

Courtesy, Steven Frisbie

Leg: Her foot in the stirrup is too far “toward home,” meaning the iron is too far back on her foot. I’d like it more on the ball of her foot. Her toe is turned out so much so that the inside bar of the stirrup is ahead of the outside bar. I want the outside bar ahead of the inside. This position can turn the leg into an unintentional driving leg. The lower leg just behind the girth is OK, and the contact with her leg is dispersed nicely throughout the saddle.

Seat/Hip angle: I’d like her hips to be over the pommel of the saddle more so she’s better with the horse’s motion. She might ride with her seat too far back naturally. To correct this, she needs to put her seat more toward the pommel on the flat. If her seat starts out in the correct position on the flat, then the natural motion of the horse’s jumping will automatically put her seat over the pommel in the air.

It seems like the horse jumps out from underneath her a little and that she uses his mouth for balance to catch up in the air, restricting him. Being able to better stay with his motion would help with this, too.

Release: Her release is quite short, which also restricts how the horse can use his head and neck and his forward momentum. He’s reaching over the fence, which could be the result of the short release (or possibly a long distance). I’d like a more generous release with her hands almost halfway up the horse’s neck.

Upper body: This rider’s back is in a good position, and her eyes are up and looking ahead.

Horse: He looks like a very capable jumper, and he’s generous enough over the fence. His expression is a little unhappy, which might be because of the restrictive release.

Turnout: The turnout is pretty good, but her boots could use more polish. The horse’s coat looks long in this photo, which might be due to the time of year. If this photo was taken during warm weather, I’d say the horse could use more grooming. I’d like to see the mane trained to lie over to one side or the other.

What you’ll see in the video:

As with the photo, the rider’s seat is too far back in the saddle, and her leg is a little forward. She’s really hitting the back of the saddle even in her entrance circle. I’d like to see her in a two-point position with her seat over the pommel. When the distance to a jump is a little long, she gets caught behind because she is not with her horse’s motion.

Near the end of the course, she’s a little lighter in her seat and more with the horse’s motion , and she becomes better balanced. But she still needs to work on bending her knee and putting her seat more toward the pommel.

The horse looks like a cute Thoroughbred-type doing his job nicely, but he cuts in. I’d like to see him bent around the rider’s inside leg a little better. She can push him out into the corners more and bend him to the inside . This will make a more pleasing picture and also allow the horse to see the fence a little sooner.

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 Summer 2022 issue of Practical Horseman.

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