Jumping Clinic with George Morris

George Morris critiques a rider's position
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George Morris critiques a rider's position
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This rider looks like she has the old Virginia–Maryland foxhunting seat, where her heel is down but her leg is braced forward, pushing the seat back into the saddle in a defensive position; her foot is almost home in the iron. This can be useful if you’re in trouble over the fence but not for everyday use. This position gives her a roached back. I would shorten her stirrup for jumping and put the iron closer to her toe so that a quarter of her foot is in it. Then she can practice pushing the weight down and back into her heel. It’s said that you can’t put the position on a rider when jumping. Instead do it at the walk, trot and canter and over cavalletti and crossrails.

Her eyes are up and ahead. She has one of the few truly straight lines from her elbow to the horse’s mouth. It’s called jumping out of hand. She’s holding the whip correctly so that about 2 inches of it are above the hand. The nubby end of the whip should be a half an inch to 2 inches above the hand so the whip is balanced.

This is a very pleasant horse. He has a nice eye and kindly expression. Though his knees are even, I don’t like them pointing down and loose—it’s called hanging. Imagine galloping down to a fixed fence and the horse got too close to it. If a horse doesn’t have the ability to snap his knees out of the way, that’s where a rotational fall could happen. His bascule is also lacking: From the poll to the dock of his tail is flat. His palomino color is attractive, though horses with color tend to be a little farther from the Thoroughbred blood that makes for a good jumper.

He looks healthy and has had a thorough grooming. I don’t like the blue stirrup iron—it’s not very classy, and the rider could have polished her boots more and had someone knock the dirt off the bottom. 

This article was originally published in the April 2017 issue of Practical Horseman.