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Jumping Clinic With George Morris

George Morris critiques a hunter rider.
© Debbie Patterson/Unbridled Photography

© Debbie Patterson/Unbridled Photography

Our first rider’s stirrup is too long, which is a common problem for many riders. They ride too short on the flat and too long over jumps. Your stirrup length must be longer for slow riding, such as flatwork or dressage, where you want to be close to the saddle, and shorter for fast riding, where you have to be off the horse. With a shorter stirrup, a rider can keep the heel down and calf in contact with the horse’s sides. This rider needs to shorten her stirrup at least two holes, maybe three. The angles at her ankle, knee and hip can’t close because she doesn’t have the support at her stirrup. After she shortens her stirrup, she can focus on putting the weight in her heel and distributing contact between her thigh, knee and calf to solidify her leg. 

As a consequence of a too-long stirrup length, her seat is too far out of the saddle and she’s too far ahead of the pommel. If the horse stops, ducks or props, she’s off him. Her posture is beautiful and her eyes are up and ahead. She’s working with a short release but she’s doing the work of her hands with her upper body. She needs to work with a long release and get used to moving her hands up the neck while waiting with her upper body. Because of the too-short release, the horse is jumping against the rider’s hand. The horse shouldn’t look flexed in the air. He should be reaching forward and down with his head and neck. 

This horse has a scopey, thrusty jump. His knees are up by his chin and he’s very round. He looks a little green—overjumping the fence but not very tight with his front end, which isn’t good for a hunter. He might be a lovely hunter prospect if he could be taught to jump lower and with a tighter front end. The rider could try riding him with pace to a long distance to get him lower to the fence. 

This horse is very well turned out. He is very clean and well groomed. His white feet are clean and he’s beautifully braided. The rider’s attire is clean and well fitting. 

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

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