Yesterday We Analyzed The Photo, Today We Discuss How To Improve!
Amelia and Finn are definitely a nice pair. Nobody is perfect though, horse or rider. So let’s talk about what Amelia can work on.
Yesterday I mentioned how well Amelia had her eyes up looking where she was going. She has always been pretty good at that. The next step I want her to take besides just turning her head and eyes is I want her to turn her whole body. Sort of like turn from the waist as if she wanted to show the front of her shirt to someone on whatever side she is turning to.
This will help the horse make better turns. He will be more prepared because he will feel her weight shift and know which way she plans on going. Once she learns to use this skill and remembers to use her outside leg. This will help him be ready to balance in the direction she is asking him to go. Making it more likely he will pick up the correct lead over the jumps. Which is a big help when jumping courses.
Learning a proper release over fences is an essential skill when learning to jump. A crest release is typically the first release riders learn in their jumping lessons. Riders are taught to keep their eyes up and move their hands up the horse’s neck and rest them there as the horse goes over the jump.
For beginners, this is absolutely the best way to learn. It allows new riders who are jumping to support themselves and help with their balance. At the same time assuring that you don’t accidently bump the horse’s mouth over the jump. This is a fast way to make a horse not want to go over a jump if he anticipates his mouth being pulled on.
Ready to Graduate To Crest Release
Amelia is a lovely rider on the flat. She has a good feel of a horse naturally. Her hands are soft and she is able to keep Finn connected and on the bit in all three gaits.
She has developed the essential skills to have an independent seat and hands. Meaning she can use her aids independently of each other. Amelia has got the feel for this by muscle memory to know and does it without much thought at all. She just rides that way now which is a milestone in anyone’s riding career.
When you achieve this it is time to graduate to an automatic release. Meaning that she would keep a straight connection from elbow to hand to the bit. Then as your horse goes over the jump, your upper body folds with his motion, and instead of planting your hands and leaning on the neck, you keep the connection with your horse’s mouth and follow his head as he jumps by bringing your hands forward and then as he lands keep your hands up while maintaining that straight-line connection to the bit.
Exercise To Help With Automatic Release and Jumping Ahead
This exercise will help not only for the rider to learn the automatic release, but it will also help with Amelia’s other problem of tending to jump ahead of the horse. In other words, getting in two-point before the horse is ready to go over the jump.
If you set up a little line of three or four cross-rails, just maybe three of four strides apart there is an easy exercise you can do to target both the automatic release and jumping ahead.
Stand straight up in your stirrups( not two-point, but all the way straight). Keep your hands up and wide, As you go over each jump you will fold your body and unfold it with the horse. As well as following with your hands. Making your hands wide when you do this forces you to sit up straight and balance over your feet. And since you have to fold and unfold over each jump, with your hands wide it sort of makes you naturally do an automatic release. It sort of allows the automatic release to happen on its own. This will help you get the feel of the automatic release, as well as timing to follow with your body. Just like everything else about riding, with practice, you will create the muscle memory to allow you to do these things like second nature, without much thought at all.
Lower Leg/Toes Out
Riding in two-point on the flat is a great way to solidify the lower leg on the flat. The more you ride in two-point and keep the correct straight line from shoulder, hip to heel, the more solid your position will get and your toes turned out should be an issue that sort of goes away as your whole leg and seat position improves.
My leg sliding back behind me and jumping ahead was once of the things that I got stuck on while I was learning. My instructor too baling twine and tied my stirrups to the girth. At first, it felt scary, once I got used to how secure I felt it improved my jumping so much. Both my timing and my lower leg position. Legs that slide back and riders jumping ahead are two things that go together, work on one and it will improve the other!
That’s All I Got For Ya’
Amelia is a great rider and I’m super proud to have her as my working student. She is a great riding instructor and a great student always looking to learn and improve. She has a great attitude and a natural feel of horses that not everyone has. Amelia is willing to ride any horse I ask her to! She is well on her own successful horsemanship journey!