Laura Maynard and Panache—February 17, 2012
From: Judge Carol Dean-Porter
Laura, your horse is a bit frisky but I never mind a bit of playfulness. They are not machines! He has a wonderful natural rhythm and jumps in nice form. For the show ring, a few minutes on the lunge line might let him blow off some steam and smooth out.
In general, your posture is good and your leg is in the proper position most of the time although lacking some depth in your heel.
On the approach to the little gymnastic, you are too upright with your body and carrying your hands too low. This forces you to make a big move in your break over and then snap back up on the landing side. You are late with your release and it is quite short, so you are breaking over on top of your hands. The hands should release prior to the upper body and he needs another couple inches. Keep your elbows, forearms and hands along the top of the neck with your hands about even with your face. This will also help with your control on the landing side.
On your halt after the grid, you dropped your hands to the neck, let your foot slide all the way into the stirrup, dropped your hips back to the cantle and hunched your back. Then when he looked off into the distance, you see-sawed on his mouth.
Collection comes from the back to the front: leg onto hand. For a halt: straighten your spine, sink down into your saddle with your seat bones and open your hip angle, apply leg pressure (which also keeps him straight), lift your hands so you are not pulling down on the mouth and keep him between both hands and both legs.
When you ask for the canter depart from the halt, your foot is flat against his side with heel pulled up and you move your foot back and up nearly 12 inches. He has spur marks up his ribs where you have used your leg ineffectively above where leg aid should be applied.
Your position on the approach to the vertical is better. Your distance is pretty good and he jumps it well. As he leaves the ground, you brace your leg forward. This is a defensive posture and shoves your hips back to the cantle, forcing you to break over to the neck in order to try to stay over his center of balance. Your elbows drop down to his shoulders and your heel comes up also bracing your hips up off the saddle.
Step down into your heel and flex your ankle in. Wrap your leg down around the barrel for a secure base of support. Hold your position and let your horse jump up to you. Control your body in the air to keep a gap of about 6 inches between your chest and his neck.
Because you snap back up too quickly, you lose connection with your horse. He plays, throwing his head around and swapping off the lead back and forth and cross cantering. If you have control of your body in the air, you land balanced and can close your leg to send him forward onto your hand. Once he is collected between hand and leg, you can control the lead changing and erratic pace. Again, lift your hands and carry them above and in front of the withers, about even with your belt buckle.
Your last line is better, slightly too upright jumping in, but smoother on the out part. Remember when he wants to play put your leg on him! Distract him by bending him around that inside leg and control the tendency to bulge by being active with your outside leg aid. When you do that, he drops down into a very nice frame.
From: Judge Rob Gage
I really like your leg position and how well you hold your heels down.
You carry your hands and arms between the jumps beautifully. Your posture is good.
However, there were a couple of things I think need some adjusting for your equitation and medal classes.
When your horse jumped, you had almost NO release. Therefore, your body moved into your fixed hands at the top of the jumps. Your arms had nowhere to fit into, so your elbows would stick straight out.
Try to remember, that your release should start into motion first, and your body should follow. At the very top of the jumps, you need to maintain several inches of open space between the front of your shirt and his mane. That is where your arms are supposed to fit into. As your horse begins to jump, your release needs to start into motion the moment your horse BEGINS to jump. That means as soon as he starts to lift his front feet off of the ground. Your hands should continue moving forward along his mane, until they get to about underneath your chin. Remember release first….break over second.
Finally, I noticed your horse would get a little playful after some of the jumps. He was never “nasty” about it…just playful. Still…..in a show, a judge would have to count down for that. Just pick up his head a little earlier & keep him moving forward at the same time. Hope that is of some help to you.<
Follow up question from Laura:
Carol, thank you for your extensive remarks – they are very helpful to read while watching and pausing the video. I have one question about the snapping up too quickly concern. This has been one of several bad habits to fix from years of riding eventer/steeplechase/fox-hunting types, and certainly a struggle. There are many opinions on how long to keep the hip angle closed during and after landing, what is your preference especially on a horse who wants to be a bit playful on the landing side? Thank you for the reminder about closing the leg and moving forward into the halt.
From: Judge Carol Dean-Porter
Laura, you are most welcome!
I believe that your snapping up problem occurs because you are too vertical on the approach. This forces you to break over more quickly and more deeply, so in order to keep your balance you snap back up. Bottom line: you have too many moving parts.
Hold your 30 degree two point position on the approach (yes I know this will feel “too forward”). Let your horse jump up to you and hold that “with the motion” position until your horse lands. This way you literally are with the motion all the way to the ground. The key is to have control of your body throughout all phases of the jump, which comes from your secure base of support. Once the horse lands, you can smoothly open the hip angle back to 30 degrees OR if you are preparing for halt: stretch your spine, close both legs, sink down into your saddle and close both hands. Remember to bend your elbows and carry your hands above and in front of the withers, not on the neck.
It is always a bit of an adventure with one who bucks on landing, but the more defensive you get the more tense your horse becomes. It is counter productive and a self-fulfilling prophecy to treat him like you “know” he is going to play. Relax, stay with the motion and keep riding your horse forward: leg onto hand. You will be amazed at how your horse relaxes!
Follow up question from Laura:
Rob, I really appreciate your comments. Regarding the release, my concern in reaching further forward would be loss of connection over top of the fence. My mare (not the horse in this video) very much dislikes lack on contact, thus the shorter release habit, if you will. Would it be best to practice and use an automatic release for these horses? If I pause at 1:02 over top of the final fence, my upper arms are perpendicular to the ground, there is a gentle connection to Rex’s mouth, but with my hand on the crest there is a broken line from elbow to bit. In such a case is it best to drop the hand a few inches to maintain a straight line contact?
From: Judge Robert Gage
I’m trying to picture what you are saying. Your forearms are pointing upwards? From your elbows to your wrists should aim forward kind of towards your horse’s head. It doesn’t really matter if the line of your release is slightly broken. Don’t be afraid to give your own horse plenty of release. You may say that she likes to feel your hands in the air…but I don’t think she would care if you gave her some extra freedom. Most horses like LOTS of freedom over the jumps.