Jumping Clinic: Two Releases and Two Legs to Adjust

Beezie Madden reviews a video of a horse and rider during a show jumping round.

Overall: This is a pleasing picture because of the horse-and-rider turnout and the horse’s style. I’d like to see the rider make a few adjustments to her leg, seat and release.

SEL Photography

Leg: The stirrup is placed right on the ball of her foot, but she doesn’t have as much weight in her heels as I’d like because she’s pinching with her knees. This pinching draws her heels up and away from the horse. I’d love to see her leg wrapped around this mare and have more contact with the back of her calf.

Seat/Hip angle: The pinching of the knee also has made her seat go too far out of the saddle and her hip angle close too much for this fence height. She also is ducking a little.

Release: Her elbows are out and her hands are floating above the crest of the neck. I’d like her elbows closer to her body to avoid the chance of distracting her horse, who could see them out of the back of her eye. Her hands need to press right in the crest of the neck for support in her balance.

Upper body: I like her flat back and that her eyes are looking ahead to the next fence.

Horse: This mare looks like a flat jumper, which is nice for an amateur because these horses tend to have smoother jumps that are easier to stay with in the air. The mare compensates for the flat jumping by being very tidy with her front legs. Also, I love her expression with her ears up.

Turnout: The horse is very shiny—her coat looks great. The tack all fit properly, and the saddle pad is clean. The rider’s boots are shiny, and she’s very well dressed. I like her hair up under her helmet.

What you’ll see in the video: 

Pace: The horse and rider approach the first fence a little under the pace, but the horse has a big stride and gets down the line easily. Other than to the first fence, the pace is excellent.

Short turns: They make several short turns on course in which the rider looks like she’s weighting her outside stirrup, and she’s a little behind her horse. That makes her pull to catch her balance and stay up. Instead, if she weights her inside stirrup on the turns, she’ll feel more in balance and able to go with her horse better. She’ll be quicker around the turns and not feel like everything is happening so fast.

Distances: The rider’s timing looked really good at the fences.

Horse: The horse seems really sweet and is looking for the next fence. 

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2022 issue of Practical Horseman.