Wednesday, May. 29, 2024

From The Judge’s Box: Jumpers With Katie Monahan Prudent

In this occasional series, top riders in each sport evaluate our readers’ submissions.



In this occasional series, top riders in each sport evaluate our readers’ submissions.

The first impression one gets when looking at this picture is, “Wow, this horse is really jumping!” Actually though, he is over-jumping, and you can tell by the worried look on his face and ears that he is not confident about it. When a horse over-jumps, he tends to go high into the air, stall or dwell in mid-air, and come down heavily. Especially at an oxer this can mean hitting the back bar. In this picture the horse’s hind legs are draping down in a weak fashion, which indicates that he is losing scope, i.e. the ability to jump the width of the oxer.

The rider is obviously trying to help the horse by releasing his mouth, stretching her arm to the max and squeezing his sides. She’s raising her heel and turning her toe out to spur him—but she is not effective.
The horse is hovering like a flying insect about to fall out of the air and knock down that back pole. To correct the problem this rider must get this horse to respond better to her driving aids at the take-off of the oxer, so that he goes forward through the air, instead of just up.

The pony in this picture is jumping in beautiful style. His knees are high, his front end tight, his hind end is straight and tucked just right. The expression on his face makes me think that he likes his job.
The rider is trying hard to stay up with her pony as he stretches over the oxer. She’s making a nice crest release with a light contact on his mouth through the air. However, her head and eyes should be up a little more, looking ahead to the next jump.
From this angle it looks to me like her stirrups are a hole or two too long, making her have to reach for her stirrups and creating a knee angle that’s a little too open.


I like the face of the horse in this picture. He’s obviously an Arabian with a beautifully alert and confident expression. He’s nicely pulling the rider forward, and his whole demeanor seems to say, “Let’s go to the next place.”
This horse does not have a classic jumping style but instead jumps with a very stiff shoulder and low knees. However, he is making up for his drapey style by jumping high over the fence and clearing it anyway even though he doesn’t snap his knees.
The rider is doing exactly the right thing to help this little horse jump. While I don’t usually like such a deep seat in the saddle over the fence, this rider’s instinct to stay back gives the horse the balance he needs to get his front end up, and her leg is in good position. The rider’s back could be a little straighter, and her hands and arms are relaxed but firm as she holds the horse back.
Classic jumping style isn’t always the most important factor for a successful show jumper. Often horses who start out with a drapey style change as they gain experience and as the jumps get bigger. As long as this horse stays confident, forward and clean jumping, he can progress to bigger and bigger jumps.

The rider in this picture does not look relaxed to me. Her upper body is crouched over the horse’s neck, her hands are in fists sort of clutching the neck and mouth of the horse, and upon close inspection I can see that her eyes are closed. This rider needs to raise her shoulders slightly, arch her back and relax her arms. I like the reins held between the ring finger and little finger for a more supple feel on the horse’s mouth.
The horse looks like a good jumper with a kind and willing expression on his face. He’s stepping easily over a very delicate plank fence on flat cups. He looks like jumping this height is easy for him, which is all the more reason for the rider to relax and enjoy the ride.

Katie Monahan Prudent earned the AGA Rider of the Year title three times and won team gold at the 1986 World Show Jumping Championship. She also rode in the 1980 alternate Olympic Games and finished second in the 1979 FEI World Cup Finals. In 1987 the U.S. Equestrian Team honored Prudent with the Whitney Stone Cup for her distinguished record in international competition coupled with serving as as outstanding ambassador for the USET. She and her husband Henri Prudent and their son Adam split their time between Nancy, France, and Middleburg, Va., where they run Plain Bay Farm.




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