View Full Version : Seeking: (Another) Constructive Critique

Dec. 8, 2009, 09:32 PM
So, I've been occasionally posting here for some constructive critiques and advice. Here's a photo from Nov 14. We were doing a Handy-type course and were immediately landing to make an inside turn to jump an oxer over a minor oblique. Hence, the really looking through a corner. Fences were set at 2'6 and I was planning to bump her to 3' this winter. I had ridden her three times before the show since getting back from my honeymoon, and in the meantime she was being flatted by some of the kids at my barn. She's in a pelham to reinforce on course half halts, particularly when there's a left lead change involved. I've also attached some earlier photos to compare with. Thanks for the ideas!

Nov 14, 09: http://hphotos-snc3.fbcdn.net/hs021.snc3/10847_194312322887_734317887_2959540_8352186_n.jpg

Jul, 09: http://photos-f.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs198.snc1/6688_240671305242_670120242_8007186_7230971_n.jpg

Apr, 09: http://petersonsphoto.com/previews/index.php?do=photocart&viewImage=20333

Dec. 8, 2009, 09:42 PM
I really like your eq and your horse! you seem to have a very good seat and solid leg. I'd maybe look for a tiny, tiny bit more weight in your heel and try and bring your leg a tiny, tiny bit more forward. Your release is good, but I'm wondering if maybe you could give your mare a little more slack on the rein because she is in such a tough bit and you don't want to restrict her head. It didn't look restricted in the picture but if you bump up to a higher division and keep the same release, she may not be able to use her head as well as she is in the picture.

Your horse is really cute! She looks like a nice jumper and a fun ride. Congrats!

Now to be all picky- you could turn your stirrup so it's angled across the ball of your foot with the outer branch more forward than the inner one. You could also move your saddle pad so it is more distributed around the saddle. Other than that, everything looks amazing!

Dec. 9, 2009, 08:15 AM
I LOVE your horse , her expression is so cute and her ears are forward and she just looks happy!! Nice to see!
You Eq is good , again more heel , and maybe stay a bit closer to the saddle, these are small fences so you do not need to be so far out of the saddle. More heel would distribute your weight further down your leg and get rid of the slight pinch in your knee, its not horrible by any means but if your looking for things to work on in an already really good pic that is my suggestion!!
I think moving your horse up is a good idea she seems to enjoy her job and she has the ability to move up to higher fences and still stay happy from her expression in this pic!! congrats on a job well done!

Dec. 9, 2009, 08:38 AM
In this last picutre, I like your EQ quite well, however, in the prior pics you appear to be a bit stiff thru upper body and a bit restrictive with your hand. Remember to release enough to allow the horse to fully use her head and neck. In the final pic you look more relaxed and you are closing your hip angle much better and your hand looks fine, neither too restrictive nor too much release. However, any pic is a "moment in time" so just be cautious, especially with a pelham to give your horse freedom over the fence. Your horse is cute, but looks very bored with the fence in the last pic, not using herself much at all. I think it would be wise to move her up so her form doesn't start getting sloppy. From the pics I wouldn't say she is an outstanding jumper, but certainly above average. As the fences get bigger she may end up being quite a bit better.

M. O'Connor
Dec. 9, 2009, 08:55 AM
I can't get the third image to load so on the first two (and, call me picky, but that's hopefully what you want):

Your overall position isn't bad, but for the small fences you are jumping, a little overdone in terms of body motion, more so in the first photo than the second.

Both photos, and worse in the first is that your horse is stiff on the left side; in the first, actually holding a bend to the right in the air.

Kudos for LOOKING at the turn, but unless that planning is carried through to actual preparation and exectution, all that will happen is that the turn will occur--it won't be particularly balanced, nor will it cause the horse to deliver the lead you want to get, either in terms of landing it or switching to it at the turn. I'm guessing you might get some late changes behind or a cross canter some percentage of the time.

You are on the right track in looking for a half halt, but I'd wonder whether you are onto the right solution in using the pelham without also ensuring that your leg is effective enough to engage the additional response it should provide you with in a constructive way.

A half halt should start with your leg, creating forward energy that will then go to your hand and then back up--the sequence of that is very important if you want to raise the level of your riding. Your leg looks weak (heel up in the first photo) and maybe passive. If you were getting a response to it as described above, your horse would be softer on the left side there, and perhaps more willing to balance in such a way as to produce the desired lead without a fuss.

What you want to have happen is that your horse softens as you land, yields from your inside aids, and balances out with an inside bend, just to the point where you "catch" and coordinate that response with your outside aids, sending the horse forward around the turn with your outside leg and rein--all of this at an advanced level happens with the horse maybe bending just a little to the inside, without much motion at all from the rider--just the slightest look with your eyes and a little engagement of your aids. Depending on how sharp the turn is, you'd decide whether to ride through it with a smooth forward sweep, or take a sharper approach with a straighter horse and make a turn on the haunches from your outside aids.

To get all this done, as you become more advanced, you will realize that maybe you actually need to use a little spur and get your horse more responsive to your leg, more than you need more bit.

Dec. 9, 2009, 09:04 AM
Thanks all. Keep 'em coming. More weight distirubution to my heel seems like the next thing I need to really work on, right? I'm guessing that should help with bringing my leg a hair forward and my seat a hair closer to the saddle, and maybe even that slight knee pinching.

Once she comes back off her injury and I get her back in shape we will move up. She's getting bored, as Shawnee pointed out, at 2'6 and her brain has matured to where she can handle bigger fences and more complex questions. The first time she jumps a fence it's usually a knees-to-ears kind of jump, at least that's what it feels like.

Shawnee, by final pic I'm guessing you mean the November photo? She's not a loopy rein kind of horse, but you're right, it looks like I may have had a little too much feel of her mouth.

ETA: Thanks MCL. My coach has been helping me with a leg yield concept for that right-to-left change. Your description provides a whole new visual which is making a lot of sense to me. The left lead has always been her sticky side, so interesting that you pick up the stiffness in the photos and a slight bend to the right. If I may ask so I can understand, what muscle groups or body movements indicate the right bend?

Thanks again for all the compliments and comments. I always appreciate getting other opinions of the "moment in time."

Dec. 9, 2009, 01:39 PM
*bump* for the afternoon crowd

Dec. 9, 2009, 04:09 PM
Your horse is lovely! I love her expression. :)

I think your position has improved quite a bit in the most recent picture. Your back looks softer and more relaxed, and your hand looks softer as well. I agree that putting more weight in your heel will help your position - it will make it easier to hold your lower leg in place on your horse's side and will make you less likely to get ahead of your horse's motion.

Try to follow your horse over the fence, rather than getting up ahead of her - this will help you stay closer to the saddle, and it should help bring your upper body further back from her neck. With some horses (and I know this from experience ;)), leaning up the neck will force them to speed up after the fence in an attempt to regain their balance. If you're feeling the need for more "woah" in your half halts after the fence, this could be part of the cause.

Hope that's helpful!

Dec. 9, 2009, 04:34 PM
My goodness you have long beautiful legs...so start showing them off! I'd give anything to have legs like yours. In all the pictures your lower leg is just hanging there, which suggests to me that you are pinching with your knees and stopping the weight distribution there. You need to start thinking about wrapping your whole leg around your horse, pressing down into your heel. Visualize trying to reach the ground with your feet (heel first.)

You're ducking a little in the last picture. I like the softness in your back, but you need to bring your shoulders up and back , opening your hip more, which brings your seat a bit closer to the saddle (and will help you stretch down into your legs.) I would say halfway inbetween the last photo and the middle one.

Dec. 9, 2009, 08:41 PM
I think going maybe a hole shorter with your stirrup might help tremendously. While I agree with other posters that your heel needs to be deeper, pushing or pressing the weight down into the heel will only serve to open the knee angle and push you up and away from her back. Think instead of pulling the toes up, and you will find an effect much like being sucked down and around her. Also think about carrying your pinky toe higher than your big toe, so the contact is maintained all the way down the inside of the leg.

Best of luck! She's a cute horse!

Dec. 9, 2009, 08:48 PM
As I've thought more about dropping my weight through my heel I remember that the left ankle is the one where I tore most of my tendons in a fall (caught in stirrup on the down side of a rear). So I think it kind of healed this way. Here's another photo where it's a bit harder to see my leg, but I think there's more ankle flexion on the other side. I'm definitely jumping ahead and I think I'm tighter in my back. I like the pinkie toe vs. big toe visualization LudgerFan, I'm going to try to remember that one.


Dec. 10, 2009, 12:45 AM
Your leg is o.k., but I think it has slipped a bit to the rear and you are a tad in your knee. The most glaring thing, and the thing that is probably effecting your horse's jump is that you are tipped over too far. If you waited just a bit with your upper body you would free up your horse's front end and she might lift her knees a little higher. Your posture is otherwise lovely and your release is really nice.