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Help me not jump like an idiot.

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  • Help me not jump like an idiot.

    My horse is uneducated in the arena of jumping, and until very recently, we (me, the horse, the trainer) have been focusing solely on flat. I'm not doing him any favors or helping him learn with my position. I looked at these photos from a lesson with Mara DePuy today and was horrified at what I looked liked over some of the fences.

    I round my back - is that just working on keeping my shoulders back? Any tips on how to do that more effectively?

    And just.. my neck/head. Why does it look so awkward?

    So, any tips on improving jump position (aside from cavaletti work and gymnastics - already on the menu for the next lesson)? The weird part is that no one has really been critical of it yet - maybe because we just focus on getting OVER the jumps sometimes..

    From today:
    - Pic one - not too rounded, but doing the weird neck/head thing..and that release, what is that?!
    - Ehh..yeahh..about that.

    Does Mary Wanless do jumping?!

    * Thought I might add that today I was having a LOT of trouble picking him back up over the jumps and both Mara and my trainer suggested something with a little more control, but not harsh, he's very sensitive (in a loose ring myler mb01), to help me help him rebalance after a fence. Every ounce of strength in my body could not pick him back up when asking for a halt after a fence.

  • #2
    It looks to me like you are focusing on keeping your head up rather than your eyes forward and shoulder back. As if you know you need to keep your eyes forward, but the rest of you is falling back into a defensive position. Eyes forward and shoulder back should straighten your back and align your head with your shoulders better so you do not have the roach back and seeming 90 degree bend in your neck.


    • #3
      It sounds like gymnastics would be good for both of you... letting your horse figure out the jumping thing, and letting you focus on one thing at a time through each grid (proper crest release, shoulders back, staying soft and flexible in your neck and back). Both pictures have different problems (one crest release sucks and one is pretty good - one the back is flat, one the back is very rounded - heels down, heels not, etc). I think you'll do well with a proper gymnastics grid and some consistency It worked well for me to be in a 'controlled environment' (so to speak) when I was not sitting up after my fences - it allowed me to really isolate that 'issue' and feel the difference. Good luck!
      “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”
      -Winston Churchill


      • #4
        You say you sometimes work on just getting over the fence? I read from this that he occasionally stops for a closer inspection... is this a correct interpretation?

        If so, I also ride a horse who occasionally questions the intelligence of jumping certain objects. And when we are having an especially looky day, or he is sucking back and adding left and right, I tend to fall back on the keep-myself-in-the-saddle defensive posture.

        The best thing I can say is look up and ride your horse like he has never stopped before. Not only is it good for your posture, its good for your horse too. Stay relaxed, soft and supportive to the fence.

        If your horse isn't stopping/sucking back, disregard this.

        The only other suggestion I would have is to relax a little and pick a point to softly watch beyond your fence, and think about reaching back with your behind towards the cantle of the saddle. All of that helps me keep myself where I need to be.


        • Original Poster

          Ajierene - That makes sense to me! I will try to think of that next time we're jumping in a lesson. Thanks!

          hydro - I don't know if I'm looking forward to the gymnastics or not! We have one big, heavy pole we use for the middle in gymnastics.. all it takes is one time and they never hit it again!

          Hevonen - All I have to say is: you read my mind/situation. 100%.


          • #6
            I rode with Greg Best last weekend, and he was awesome at picking up on position issues just by watching everyone trot around for 5 minutes. His exercise for riders who roach their back is to have them stick their jockey whip or whathaveyou in the front of their breeches. If you roach your back, you get smacked in the face! I was tortured with his infamous detached stirrup leather loop instead, but my friend stopped roaching her back after a 3 hour lesson with her whip like that!

            ETA: I agree with thinking about bringing you eyes up instead of your head. Also, thinking about pressing your shoulder blades together can help.
            T3DE Pact


            • #7
              1st pic...you look "perchy". Relax, eyes forward, not your head. Press your knuckles into crest, rather than cocking wrists and "floating" them above.

              2nd pic- You got left. No one looks good doing that. The rounded back is your unconscious attempt to try to keep your hands from hitting his mouth/move your body forward.

              Doing transitions in 2 point without using the neck/reins for balance will help your base be more secure.

              See if you can jump a series of tiny bounces down the long side of the arena. Do it a few times approaching from a trot in 2 pt, then knot your reins, and put your hands on your hips over the first one, and try to keep your body still letting him jump up to you. It'll make you learn to flow with the horse, develop balance and you can't perch.


              • #8
                I rode in a clinic with Jim Graham earlier this month. He told me to think of lifting my belly button to keep me stretched up (not collapsed) on the approach and in the air.

                Have you mentioned to your trainer that you would like to work on your position? Sometimes trainers get tunnel vision when working on a problem with the horse.

                Also, there are many eventing trainers, who do not particularly care what you look like, as long as you are effective in getting your horse over the fence.

                I believe that when your position is correct, the horse has a better chance of being correct, too.

                As other posters have said, both of you would benefit from going through bounce grids, especially without reins. When you have better balance without the reins, then try going through the grid or over jumps with driving reins. Holding the reins in that manner will help teach you to have a following hand, so you do not have to rely only on the "crest release".
                When in Doubt, let your horse do the Thinking!


                • #9
                  I tend to roach my back as well, especially over the last fence in a gymnastic line. No idea why... just popped up this past winter. For me, and maybe you too, it's just a mental thing. I just have to be told I'm doing it and then I really have to think about keeping my back straight over that one fence. Every other one goes smoothly without me thinking about it. It may just be a habit you have to babysit. You could try two-pointing on the lunge to get the feel of a straight back and normal neck position without having to worry about any actual jumping.
                  Tru : April 14, 1996 - March 14, 2011
                  Thank you for everything boy.

                  Better View.