One of the great trademarks of classic American equitation over fences is our emphasis on “staying with your horse”–naturally following his motion in the approach, takeoff, over the jump, on landing and as he canters away. Such beautiful balance in the saddle and soft, following hands allow your horse to maximize his balance and technique so he gives you the best jumping effort every time.

Michael Tokaruk demonstrates an exercise for upper-body control to help you stay with your horse over fences without getting stiff. | copyright Amy K. Dragoo

This sounds simple, but in practice, it’s easier said than done. Any slight imbalance in your position can tip you in front of the motion on takeoff, make you duck to one side or the other, or drop you back into the saddle too early on landing, all of which hamper your horse’s jumping effort.

In this video, Michael demonstrates two exercises that will help teach you upper-body control in preparation for jumping bounces, which he’ll talk about in Part 2 of the article coming up in the July 2009 issue.

To read more about Michael’s exercises, see “Balance in the Air, Part 1” in the June 2009 issue of Practical Horseman magazine.

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