Jumping Clinic With George Morris

George Morris critiques a hunter rider.

Our third rider’s leg has slipped to the rear and she’s grabbing her horse with it, telling him to go faster and be stronger. The lower leg needs to be closed on the horse’s side at the girth and be intentionally active or passive. The foot appears to be correctly placed in the iron, though the outside branch might need to be angled slightly more forward. 

This rider is opening her hip angle too soon and dropping down. She also has set her hands into the horse’s withers and is not releasing so he is jumping against her hands and has no freedom. This restriction plus the tense look on her face make me think she’s overmounted. The horse looks quite strong and has a big, long jump, which can be intimidating. The rider needs to be able to better go with the horse’s motion.

The horse is not very attractive with a plain head and neck. He’s not demonstrating a great front end. His legs are dangling. He’s just taking this crossrail like it’s a big canter stride. Maybe if he were jumping a bigger fence, he would have better form. To improve his form, a professional could try trotting him up to the base of a fence, release him and then stop him on the other side. She also could add strides in a line, getting the horse to wait and use himself.

This is the best horse-and-rider turnout of the group. His coat looks well groomed and clean. Cleanliness is the secret to good turnout. He has a nice braid job, the saddle pad is clean and the tack is cared for beautifully. The rider is conservatively attired in well-fitting clothes. She just needs more basics and more time in the saddle on a horse who will give her confidence.

This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Practical Horseman.

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