Jumping Clinic with George Morris

George Morris critiques a jumper rider's position.
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667-Sophie Coutts No Photog

From her expression, body position and following arm, I sense that this is a relaxed, natural rider who just needs education and polish. She has a very short stirrup, which is good because this horse has a very big thrust. When jumping, it’s better to err on the side of too short a stirrup than too long so you can stay with your horse’s motion. What I don’t like is that her heels are up too far. She needs to work in two-point and drop the weight into them.

She has a good base of support. The horse’s jumping thrust has tossed her seat out of the saddle just enough—she is not making any effort to jump for him. She has good posture and the area above the belt is slightly hollow. Her eyes are looking up and ahead to the next fence. Though she’s following the horse’s mouth nicely with her hands, they’re slightly above the crest and they need to press into it for support. It’s a steppingstone to an automatic release, which this rider could try by dropping her hands 4–5 inches down the neck to create a straight line from her elbow to the horse’s mouth and maintain a following contact. That release is difficult because you need to rely solely on your balance—your hands are independent of your body and the horse.

This is a scopey jumping horse whom I want to like—he has a lovely expression, seems conscientious and is round—but his front end really bothers me. His forearms and knees are pointing down. If they are doing that over this oxer, what will happen at a vertical, where a horse needs to have a sharper front end? Unfortunately, I’d categorized him as a hanger.

I like that he is in good weight and he looks clean and is braided, though I’m not a fan of the white ear bonnet. But my problem is that I can’t get past the rider’s dirty boots. If I see dirty boots, I know there’s dirt elsewhere in a horse’s management.  

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