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What is the correct jumping form (for rider)?

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  • What is the correct jumping form (for rider)?

    I looked at GM's books and A.J. White-Mullin's "Hunter Seat Training, Showing, and Judging" but neither really explains in absolute detail about how I should be posturing my body. I have minimal access to a trainer (we live OUT there, but we have internet access!) but I'm so excited about jumping I thought I would post on this board and get some advice.

    In detail - What parts of my leg should be touching the saddle as we go over a fence? Obviously my seat is out of the tack - should I be attached to the horse/saddle from the knee through to my ankle bone (my whole lower leg)?

    -Do you usually sit the canter and then go into 2-point as you approach the fence, or do you go around the majority of the course already in a sort of half-seat? Are riders more commonly seen sitting the canter the majority of the course? Would it be weird if a rider were in half-seat most of the time?

    -And as for hands...well, any advice to a beginner on this one? I don't really grab mane - I sort of just press onto the back of her neck.

    I think I read somewhere on here that someone's trainer said "It's like you're trying to pee in the woods!" Any other visualization suggestions to get me to hold myself properly?

    Also curious - I know everyone learns at a different rate, but about how long did it take you to move between different fence heights? (x-rails to 2'6" to 3' to 3'6, etc).

    Sorry if I'm asking stupid questions, I'm still pretty new to all of this but having a lot of fun learning. Thanks!

  • #2
    Youtube some of the big medal finals and watch the equitation of the riders. Then have someone video you and see what you can find. Working with video is GREAT!

    For your position around the course, it depends on what you need/want to accomplish. If you have a stopper, DO NOT LEAN or sit forward. If you have a horse that carries himself nicely, then you can get off his back and let him take you to the fence (always in front of your leg though! and always with the majority of your weight over your heels). I view the half-seat as a 'neutral' position. From the half seat, you can adjust how much seat you want to or need to use. If you have to move up to a fence, sink down in your tack, don't get farther out in front of your horse (unless you have a saint of a hunter). It's pretty situation dependant, but if you post or send me a video, I'd be glad to try to help you out.

    As far as your hands, they should be following the horse's mouth and not pulling back. If you're new to jumping, pressing your hands into the mane is the right answer but most of your weight should still be in your heels and not on the neck.

    Depending on the shape/size of your horse, your toe should be pointed outwards in about the same angle as your knee. You should place all the weight across the ball of your foot which will make your toe turn out slightly. You should have contact with your horse's side along your calf and thigh and don't grab or 'pinch' with your knee. If you sink down in your stirrups and place the weight equally over the ball of your foot, you won't be able to pinch with your knee.

    Anne Kursinski says that you should be half standing, half sitting. Make sure your weight is deep in your heels to anchor your position. If you can get a good leg, the rest of your position will follow.

    As far as progression, it just depends on the horse and rider. My first jumping lesson was at 2' (trainer didn't know I hadn't jumped and threw me into the lesson - it's one way to learn!). I think it's reasonable to spend a couple of years working up to the 2'6" if you're in training and have someone helping you. If you spend the time getting your foundation strong and get good about finding your distances, you can move up in height pretty quickly. But a strong foundation is key.

    Be safe! Always make sure someone is around when you're riding and always wear a helmet!


    • #3
      SPtraining - Wow, thanks, that was really helpful! To be honest, I was terrified of posting on here (my question seemed like a "duh" kind of a question but like I said, I'm learning) but I'm glad to see that there are really nice, helpful people on this site. Since I have limited lesson time I'm trying to learn as much as I can out of the saddle so I can make the most of the time I'm in it!

      I'll see if my tech-impaired mom can try to take pictures/video and maybe I'll muster up the courage to post it (or PM it) for critique. Thanks again!


      • #4
        You sound like someone possibly new to jumping but not riding.....

        Firstly, a lot depends on your horse and what level you ride at. And also what division you plan to ride in.

        I teach kids to jump and have a few teens now I have had for several years that are jumping competitively over 3 foot. I have brought these kids along from nothing. They knew basically nothing when I first started them. And they have their own horses - a lot of fixer uppers.

        SO firstly, does your HORSE know how to jump? When on a green jumping horse - a lot of times you ride to balance and two point when you actually jump. A horse more trained can handle softer, slighter aids to balance and the rider can ride in a cantering jump position.

        If you go to a show, you will see riders do both. Usually a green rider on a school horse will stay in 2 point and just steer around but keep the leg - calf to ankle on their horse -the power of which depends on the go of the horse. As you come to the fence, you must apply leg (no kicking) - again, if you are on a fast moving or exciting horse, you might just close your leg to steady the horse. You do not want to goose him on accident. But a typical hunter will need you to squeeze softly as you jump to keep the impulsion over the fence. The tempo needs to stay - you have steady tempo and rhythm in the canter around the course and you need to maintain it over the fence. If you do not do that - your horse can get stuck and athletically have to contort to get himself over the fence. That is clearly uncomfortable for both horse and rider.

        I suggest you practice on the flat cantering in 2 point and make sure you feel like you are 'sinking' into your heels - you need to think that your balance is so much into your heels and relaxed - absorbing the shock of the stride - that you could release the reins and airplane. But make sure your horse is not on the forehand and that you can transitions and manuever right when you ask him to in that canter. If you can do that - you are ready to canter a course (basically).

        If your horse has a strong hind and is a little downhill, you will probably need to sit - not in full seat but with some seat. And you will likely find that lifting your hands 2 inches, your horse with a strong hind and downhill build, will drop his haunches and lift his chest to meet your hands - better positioning him to jump. To do that you will sit up a little more. I have 3 horses in my barn like this - the riders are still in a forward seat but they ride a little less forward. One of my riders on one of them got a 6th in equitation at a big show and actually had a big course (cantered around the last fence because she forgot where she was going) - and the judge told me her riding was the most beautiful he had seen in a long time - shame she messed that last fence up - but I was SHOCKED he gave her a 6th. She did sit into the saddle in the corners and half halted him to balance, then sat forward but not in 2 point and then 2 pointed over the fences.

        KEY - heels down - lower leg dead still.

        KEY - head up - shoulders QUIET - hands QUIET.

        KEY: If you are new, do a crest release - which is on the crest as you describe - do not lean on the horse in front - you push him onto the forehand but sometimes a little pressure helps some horses reach. YOU just make sure your weight is in your heels and your lower leg is pressing into the horse - again to the degree the horse needs. This is going to help you jump well, stabilize you AND if your horse should quit - you are more secure. You get forward at all and you will topple over his head.

        Speaking of which - LET your horse jump ahead of you a little. A LOT of new riders ride REALLY anticipating. You need not get left behind either but pay attention - take some pictures of you jumping and see if you are with your horse or ahead. Most new riders get ahead and that is insecure. A lot of my green riders - I tell them to WAIT and let the fence come to them - Let them feel the horse's front end take off and they follow. Keep their eyes up.

        There are two discussions on the rule for looking at the jump. I tend to tell riders at first to look at a point I taped with bright colored tape at the end of the arena - focus on it and ride the line by feel. This really is to help them jump feel first - eyes after that. THEN once they are following and comfortable, I have them ride looking at the fence until it is 20-15 feet in front of them and then pick up their eyes for the next fence. Depending on the course. My jumper riders I teach them to think about the inbetween -the - fences and leave the jump to the horse. If they balance and set up their horses in between - leave the jump to the horse and stay out of his way - so once the horse is set up and straight for the fence, their mind then looks at the inbetween for the next (which jumpers means its often a more complicated turn than in hunters). SURE they will need to do more than that as they move up but it is a progression!

        1. SO - your lower leg needs to be on your horse. If it is, then you will not pin with your knee. Keep your stirrup under the line of your boot towards your toe - heels down and depending on how you are built more forward than sideways but dont slam your toes straight forward - it might look pretty but it can hurt your knee. If your lower leg is not secure - do a LOT of cantering in two point and push into your heels and hug your horse with your calf until you feel a little pain. A little pain every time your leg means you are building leg strength.

        2. The cantering in two point or two-point at the fence depends on the horse really. It would be nice if we could all two point all the way around without having to assist our horses. But also, balancing a horse that needs it of is green takes timing and is better left to a more advanced rider? But if your horse needs it.....

        3. Grabbing mane is not a sin. But unless you are a little kid, I strongly suggest you only do it in an emergancy. But putting your hands into the mane onto the crest is the 101 crest release over a fence. When you are ready to move up, you learn an automatic release which is more along the neck. When you look at pictures of yourself, make sure the connection is shoulder-hand-horses mouth. Straight line. You do not want to over release or under release. THE POINT is that your arms and hands follow the horse's mouth and you do not pull on the horse's mouth. I am ok with a little floppy rein with a new jumper rider. That is better than the opposite and that is what you tend ot get with the crest release.

        Visualizations - I LOVE the pee in the woods thing - I will use that!

        I always tell them to sink into their tack - think like a jockey - we ride the hay bales - we do airplane cantering in the round pen.....

        4. The height depends on the talent of the rider, talent and training of the horse..... I have one rider who went from falling off if a horse turned (she came to me and that happened the first time she rode at the trot on a slow lesson horse - and she had been riding for years?) - and in a year, competes at 3 foot on her green horse very beautifully. The horse has the talent to go higher but he is green and she is not really ready to help him over 3 feet year.

        In general, beginner jumpers stay at cross rails until they ride them like they are bored. That is overly simplistic but.... and we do gymnastics to add a vertical. Then I add a small oxer. Meanwhile, we do a ton of canter work and jump 'courses' of poles - treating the poles like jumps. The rider needs to know how to ride a straight line - plan her in-between-the-jumps because that is the rider's job. We will then trot crossrail courses and then canter the lines, trot the corners and then canter the whole thing. I will raise the fences a little as needed. SOME horses will run over fences because the horse is large and/or athletic and small fences make the horse not pay attention. It is more advanced riding for a rider to make a horse like that jump a small fence (do you follow?) so I will raise the fence to 2 foot so the rider can get used to JUMPING and not worry about asking a horse to jump a small fence instead of run over it.

        Then once the rider is solid above, I will make the combinations more difficult, the size a little higher and we will work on canter leads. At that point it depends then on what the horse is capable of and what the goals of the rider is.

        To me, the basics take the longest. Some riders can get them in 2-3 months on a horse that knows his job well. That would be a talented rider. Not enough time to teach the rider to be able to jump a GREEN horse usually..... I have one rider who it took about 4 months to post automatically. A lot of my young riders took 2-3 lessons to post the trot. Those are examples.

        SO why dont you describe your experience and the horse you will be jumping?

        Sorry so long - but you sound like the kids who come to me to learn....