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Position going up banks

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    Position going up banks

    Took my young mare xc schooling this weekend and she was so good! We did our first "big girl" (BN) bank and she was great, hopped right up/down real calm, uses her neck really well. Going up however I am obviously not where I need to be as I got smacked in the face once and another close call. I tend to close my hip angle too much/jump up the neck a bit in general which is probably not helping but I think its the landing side which is getting me in trouble not sitting up quick enough when she brings her head back up.

    Anyways can someone dumb it down for me and describe where my body needs to be in the different phases of an up bank? Thanks!
    Original Poster

    Not the best quality photo but if it gives any hints of where I am going wrong


      I have been strictly taught to stay straight up and sit back while giving my horse her head. If you lean into the bank like that I was taught that your horse world trip and fall flat on his face, I did see it happen with another rider. I have a video of me being instructed through a bank if you want to private message me a way for me to send that to you. It’s a bit ugly though because it’s a video of my first bank


        Jumping up a bank is the same as any other vertical jump. The only thing I remember being specifically told was to treat it as if it was an oxer as you you will need a bit more jump so the horse has clearance to get the landing gear down.
        A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.


          Nice photo! It's hard to see the approach, but are you sure that's a BN bank?

          I have always been taught that impulsion is extremely important for bank ups; if they don't have enough impulsion, they can have difficulty clearing the bank with their hind legs. Impulsion's important in every fence, but you want to keep the impulsion going to the bank, and you want to stay out of their way. Think of keeping your spine straight and hands forward - grab a neck strap or mane if you need to. My instructors have had me ride up to a bank with a very light seat ("daylight peaking through the saddle") but keeping my chest back. I've always done a very loose rein up/down banks for first timers/greenies. They will need full use of their neck.

          With the greenies they will almost always jump it awkwardly the first few times. It's a tough type of fence for first timers. Usually hardest to stay out of their way at the walk, and once you do it a few times, they're good to go up it at a canter and it's much easier to ride.

          Looks like fun!! I found this video, can't comment on the audio, but it does have some slow mos of riders going up/down banks that may be helpful:

          AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


            Just looks like you are over jumping/over folding....same as you would be if this wasn’t a jump but jumping a same sized fence as the face of the bank. For jumping UP a bank, on approach and take off, you do not need to do anything different for your position or mechanics as you would for jumping a fence slightly bigger than the face of the bank. The key is to stay up and not fall back on to them as they bring their hind legs up onto the bank. So this requires you to hold through your legs (I close my knee a bit) and core (NOT FOLD more in your hips). I grab and hold mane too even though I’m experienced. It will help you get the feel of what you need to do to stay up with your horse and help you avoid falling back.....its similar to not opening your hips when you jump a really big and wide need to hold your position at bit longer and stay up with your horses shoulders so they can bring their hind legs up.....but not jump ahead on take off and over fold.
            Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Aug. 14, 2020, 11:57 AM.
            ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


              Original Poster

              Originally posted by beowulf View Post
              Nice photo! It's hard to see the approach, but are you sure that's a BN bank?
              Haha rightttt, I was thinking the same thing. At this facility all the banks are pretty much the same size (with exception of the prelim one obviously) so I am guessing its definitely maxed out but they hold rec. event so must be within limits


                To build on what BNFE posted, WALK your banks up and down.

                First: that is how I teach young horses to trust that a bank is a simple exercise.

                Second: Horses can jump 3’ and more from a walk (so long as they have the impulsion).

                Third: it slows down the entire motion so YOU can be quieter and FEEL how to ride banks. As BNFE points out, grab the mane and feel how the horse comes up.

                If you walk the banks, you will have the time to know where your body needs to be, and in relation to, how the horse comes up. In training I will walk banks up to Training level. Then I will add in trot or canter once my horse really understands the question.

                Your body simply needs to be up and letting the horse close the hip angle. You don’t do a thing. And this is what you would feel at the walk.


                  Don't let your base of support get behind you. It looks like your lower leg has slipped back. If you can keep your leg under you, it might help getting/keeping the upper body back a little more. Are your stirrups a hole too long?

                  ETA: If your horse is honest, try closing your eyes and keeping your chin up for the last three strides. Closing your eyes can make you wait a little longer for the jump.


                    Something I always remind students is that there is no “down” side to a bank up. The horse jumps up to you, just like when he takes off for a regular jump, but instead of going back down to land, he stays on the same plane, with a extra thrust through the back that may tip you forward. For this reason, it is important not to over-fold and wind up crouched over his withers; keep your upper body tall and focus on where you want your balance when he lands on the bank. The recommendation to walk banks is a good one- stay light in your seat, sit up taller than you think you need to, and grab some mane so you don’t feel like you’ll tip off. Walk, then slowly jog, to allow yourself to adjust to the motion of the jump.


                      I was told plain and simple, "pick a tree and look at the top of it. Let the horse jump up to you"
                      "Do what you can't do"


                        What tbchick84 said. Even better if you can ride to the tree, and oh gee, a bank got in the way.


                          Original Poster

                          Originally posted by tbchick84 View Post
                          I was told plain and simple, "pick a tree and look at the top of it. Let the horse jump up to you"
                          I tried this today and it worked great, thanks!


                            Up banks are simple, but physically demanding. The horse has to lift his/her whole mass up the bank. You want to maintain impulsion (not speed) on your approach, get on your line to the jump/bank early so they can read the question, and let the horse pick their own distance/take-off. You simply stay tall with your upper body, forgiving with your hand, and stay with the motion as they clear their hind legs. Practice going up and down banks on a long rein at the walk (literally the buckle).

                            Cool photo!
                            There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the
                            inside of a man.

                            -Sir Winston Churchill