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Why do hunter riders lie down on their horse's necks over jumps?

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  • Why do hunter riders lie down on their horse's necks over jumps?

    I've ridden hunters most of my life, done a little dressage here and there, taught lessons, run a few barns. I have been out of the hunter loop for a few years. What I am seeing so much of these days is what appears to me to be a trend of hunter riders appearing to lie down on their horse's neck when jumping. They seem to lose the straight (and preferred) line from elbow to bit because they bend their arms so that their hands press on the neck. Then they put their faces right down on top of the mane. Beginner riders - sure - press your hands on the neck for support. But when you are jumping 2'6" and higher? What am I missing here - not trying to be smart about it, or a jerk, truly, just wondering if I'm missing something!
  • Original Poster

    #2
    I've ridden hunters most of my life, done a little dressage here and there, taught lessons, run a few barns. I have been out of the hunter loop for a few years. What I am seeing so much of these days is what appears to me to be a trend of hunter riders appearing to lie down on their horse's neck when jumping. They seem to lose the straight (and preferred) line from elbow to bit because they bend their arms so that their hands press on the neck. Then they put their faces right down on top of the mane. Beginner riders - sure - press your hands on the neck for support. But when you are jumping 2'6" and higher? What am I missing here - not trying to be smart about it, or a jerk, truly, just wondering if I'm missing something!

    Comment


    • #3
      The longer a rider stays over their horse the more the horse can finish its jump through its back and hind end. Riding the neck down also encourages the horse to jump rounder with a lower and freer neck, and to land stretching into a flowing first stride.
      The automatic release is also out of fashion for the hunter ring, and unnecessary for the courses, so it looks out of place at this time.

      Comment


      • #4
        Several reasons:
        1) Rider lacks proper base of support, evidenced by the swung-back leg and/or knee pivot that usually accompanies the neck-laying. With a proper base of support, the rider's weight remains in her heels instead of her seat so she can allow the horse to finish the jump without sitting down on the horse's back too early. Without a proper base of support, the rider must cling to the neck so that she sits up later. Very sloppy.

        2. Riders with proper bases of support ride in this sloppy style to create the optical illusion that the horse is jumping super round, throwing the rider's but so far out of the saddle that their upper body is down on the neck. Completely wasted motion, and a rider should never "push the horse's neck down" for roundness. Roundness comes from the horse's back, not dropping the forehand. Weighting the forehand begs the horse to hit the jump. Doesn't enhance the horse's athleticism, only its burden.

        3. Riders are imitating photos of #2-type riders they see in magazines.

        The dynamics C.Boylen described (horse jumps with freer neck and lands stretching into a flowing stride) can be accomplished better with a proper automatic release than a sloppy upper body and base of support.

        Comment


        • #5
          Ditto, ditto, ditto, Lilac!!!!

          It's just a fad.

          Comment


          • #6
            Hee, hee, hee, Lilac!

            You 'hit the deadhead on the nail!'

            Comment


            • #7
              This is a VERY interesting thread to me. I've asked this question for ages of so many people and professionals. C.Bolen's answer is what I've always suspected, because it's always the big professionals on the fanciest jumpers who would rate worst in George Morris's jumping clinics (in Practical Horseman, haha). And they must know better!!!
              I agree, it's not correct riding, posture, it's pinching with the knees, ducking over the fences, etc..........but I figured they were doing it for a REASON>>>
              As for me, I"m a foxhunter and eventer clinicians love my position.....and I have a heck of a time getting that "over" my horse over a fence....afterall, we may stumble in the big hole in the other side, haha..........
              www.flyingcolorsfarm.comHome of pinto stallion Claim to Fame and his homozygous son, Counterclaim. Friend us on Facebook!https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Fl...04678589573428

              Comment


              • #8
                Odd how pros wioth this supposed "awful" position get the best rides out of the best horses. Never seen them fall off at a stop either. Perhaps things have just changed? I'm playing devils advocate, I am always working on classic form, but does it have a place in the modern professional hunter ring?
                -Grace

                Comment


                • #9
                  Simple. Because if you ride "correctly" over fences, you will not place in the hunter or eq. ring. Period. A rider that softly follows the horses effort in the air with no excessive closing of the hip angle is seen to be "left behind" and even with a perfect round, they will not place. It's disgusting really, but so so painfully and bitterly true.
                  Power to the People

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I dunno, sometimes we tend to paint with a pretty broad brush in extending an opinion to cover an entire industry.

                    Where have you seen proper by one definition...i.e. auto release... riding on a wonderful jumping horse get the gate when poor jumping under a less classic rider pinned up??

                    I haven't. They jump good they get pinned good. Sometimes more jump good then there are ribbons for.

                    I'm not an huge fan of some of the more exaggerated styles seen BUT the definition of proper equitation is effective riding. Not putting a ruler on a rider's arm and pronouncing the lack of a straight line "poor riding".


                    Long as the horse performs the task with brilliance and is eager to keep going, whose to say the rider is to be slammed on here because they do not meet somebody's definition of the "proper" way to do it?

                    We have done this ad nauseum...sat and had at riders of big winning horses because we don't think they ride good.

                    Enough already.
                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Yeah...i'd let this one die a quick death. Its not worth the band width.
                      Save a life...be an organ donor! Visit www.Transplantbuddies.org

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by TheOrangeOne:
                        Odd how pros wioth this supposed "awful" position get the best rides out of the best horses. Never seen them fall off at a stop either. Perhaps things have just changed? I'm playing devils advocate, I am always working on classic form, but does it have a place in the modern professional hunter ring? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

                        Well... I'm not so sure. I was looking through a photo album of pictures from Working Hunter classes at Devon, and though 99% of the riders were ducking and doing that weird let-me-stick-my-ass-in-the-air-as-high-as-possible-to-blind-the-judge-with-my-lack-of-vpl thing, the riders on the horses that had the best jumps were far less dramatic about it. One of the most "dramatic" overjumping, overducking, twist-to-the-side riders actually looked like he was making his horse struggle- the horse was jumping crooked and looked like he was bracing his neck back against the rider, more than anything.

                        Not that my opinions matter as a backyard rider extraordinaire, I just felt like being all opinion-y today.

                        And I happen to think the smoother, more correct ride makes the horse look much better, no matter what the current trend is. At a GM clinic a few weekends ago, he talked about the ducking thing. A girl kept overdoing a 2'6" ish jump, so he got on her horse and tried to show her the difference and how not to duck. The interesting thing was, when she was riding (and ducking), all you noticed was the rider being funky. When GM got on and didn't duck, suddenly you didn't notice the rider so much, and could actually see the horse unfettered by any dramatic motions on his back (and he did a few jumps where he exaggerated, and it was the same thing- when he ducked, it detracted from the performance of the horse quite a bit). Of course, it was GM, so the horse was probably all "omigod, like, I better snap my knees up so he doesn't impale me on a metal pole", so maybe it was less about not ducking and more because GM is a scary, scary man.
                        "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

                        My CANTER blog.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I wish you'd put a smiley face or a "haha" at the end of that post caffeinated. I don't think GM is scary at all; I do think he's a talented trainer and rider, and if the horse went better with GM than with a ducking 2'6 rider, well DUH!

                          If you were at the Persimmon Tree Farm clinic (I was there!) there is NOTHING "scary" or harsh or rough or punitive about the way he rides. He is a pleasure to watch.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            This is NOT something you can judge from a photograph. A picture is ONE moment in time. How do you know that a kid with a scary balloon wasn't making that horse twist rather than its riders position?

                            "The dynamics C.Boylen described (horse jumps with freer neck and lands stretching into a flowing stride) can be accomplished better with a proper automatic release than a sloppy upper body and base of support."

                            If this were true, the top professionals would be using an automatic release. They don't.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by QueenMother:
                              I wish you'd put a smiley face or a "haha" at the end of that post caffeinated. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

                              I'm sorry. Sometimes *I* think it's obvious when I'm joking, but I sort of live in my own head that way, and apparently I am misread far more frequently than I expect to be

                              here (especially for you!):


                              <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">This is NOT something you can judge from a photograph. A picture is ONE moment in time. How do you know that a kid with a scary balloon wasn't making that horse twist rather than its riders position? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

                              You do have a point. I was basing my uneducated opinion on sets of photographs, there were about five or six of every rider. Though I suppose small children with balloons could be hiding under every jump, too, so they get the benefit of the doubt. I'm certainly not out there competing so I suppose I should keep my big mouth shut, really
                              "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

                              My CANTER blog.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Why, thank you! Now I can climb down from my high horse!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I think in general most professionals are using that big neck release because it is "in style".

                                  Riders should at some point learn about seat weight, leg, how the aids effect the horse simple dressage movements the different "seats" for jumping and canter work as well as eventually the automatic release that we see the europeans still use so well.

                                  It is a shame BECAUSE at the higher levels in jumpers and international sport these things many riders are not learning == are useful and needed == if you read any of the top riders "books" they talk of basically using low level dressage and the advancement of riders to the Auto release yet we see so little of it even in the jumper ring where it can be most useful. I was taught in a more European manner so maybe my view is unpopular..

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Because style of riding doesn't count. Therefore isn't a priority. And because it's not a priority, and and doesn't affect the outcome, there is no reason to be stylish. Some are even convinced that jumping up on a horse's neck accomplishes a desired end. And since there is no agenda on landing beyond "stay upright" and recover one's balance by the next fence which is many strides away, it does no harm.

                                    Now, go to the jumper ring...where style and technique DO affect the outcome, and where a rider pays dearly for requiring exessive recovery time after a jump, and you will find that either the riders are stylish and have effective technique, or a lot of equipment, or both.
                                    Inner Bay Equestrian
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                                    • #19
                                      Because we can.
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                                      \"Jean Louise, stand up. Your father\'s passing.\"

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                                      • #20
                                        Someone ask Don Stewart where this style of riding began.

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