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Jumping Clinic with George Morris

George Morris critiques an equitation rider.

This looks like a good equitation rider, yet again, I’d possibly shorten her stirrups a hole. The angle behind her knee is open at about 130 degrees and her buttocks are high out of the saddle. She also could move the stirrup a little closer to her toe. She looks like she has a tendency to stand on her toe rather than drive the weight in her heel. It’s not up, but it could be farther down. Once she’s shortened the stirrup, she can get in two-point position and ride over crossrails and through grids, focusing on pushing the weight from her seat to her knee to her heel.

As is often the fashion today, this short release is above the crest instead of alongside it. The rider is rotating her hands up, back and down, bending her wrists and trying to lift the horse off the ground. She first needs to establish a good release, where as she sees her distance, she softens her hands, lowers them and presses them into the horse’s neck. She has a classic back with a concavity in the area just above her belt. People from other countries criticize U.S. equitation riders for having swaybacks, but that’s how you want to start out. This rider is looking up and ahead with a very alert and focused yet relaxed expression.

This is a wonderful equitation horse. He has an alert, not spooky, expression. His knees are up and his forearms are parallel to the ground, almost dead even. He’s not overly tight but he is symmetrical and he jumps very flat from his poll to the dock of his tail. This is an advantage with an equitation horse because he’s easier to stay with. He looks quiet and big-strided, but is a horse who could shorten his stride and make a jump look perfect, even if the distance isn’t perfect.

The horse’s coat could use more grooming to bring out its shine, but both his and his rider’s turnout is stylish and beautiful.

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

Do you want George Morris to critique your riding? If so, send in a color photograph, at least 3 x 5 inches, taken from the side, in which your position is not covered by a standard. Mail it to Jumping Clinic, Practical Horseman, 656 Quince Orchard Rd., Suite 600, Gaithersburg, MD 20878 or email a high-resolution (300 dpi) copy to Please indicate photographer’s name/contact information if professionally taken. Submitted photos may also appear on Practical Horseman’s website and be displayed on Facebook. 

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