Jumping Clinic

George Morris critiques a rider's position.
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679-Malorie Buccigross Andrew Ryback Photography

I can’t see this rider’s entire leg because much of it is behind the jump standard, but I can see enough of it to know that she is standing on her toe—pushing the weight onto the ball of her foot instead of in her heel. The rest of her leg is OK. I’d like to see her move the iron so that the outside branch leads the inside and her little toe touches the outside. This will increase the flexibility in her ankle and allow her to put more weight in it. She can practice this on the flat first and then over small crossrails.

Her seat is a little high out of the saddle, which is all right because her horse is giving a big effort over this rather square oxer. But it’s still in the category of jumping ahead. While this rider doesn’t have a roach back, it’s a little soft. Her eyes are looking up and ahead. She is demonstrating an excellent long crest release with her soft, giving hands moved halfway up the neck, resting on the crest. This is a very supportive release that gives the horse his head.

This careful horse is a dramatic jumper with his knees up by his throat. He is perfectly symmetrical and he is so tight below his knees. With his head and neck dropped and back rounded, he’s showing a beautiful bascule—what I call “cracking the back” and kicking up behind.

I’m not a fan of the head bonnet, which is very fashionable these days. If it’s being worn to muffle noise, I think riders instead need to desensitize horses to sounds. But I appreciate that the horse is well cared for—a good weight, groomed to show off his dapples and clean. The saddle pad is clean, too. I don’t like the rider’s dirty boots and suggest she have a friend knock off the dirt before she enters the arena.

This article originally appeared in the 2018 Winter issue of Practical Horseman.

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