Lauren Culver and Limited Edition—February 21, 2013
From: Judge Carol Dean-Porter
This horse considers the 2’9″ oxer to be pretty small for him, so he demonstrates he wants to jump higher!
He is very good with his legs but restricted with his face. You can see that his face is vertical instead of nose stretched out a bit. His expression is worried.
I believe this is mostly due to Lauren’s very short release, restricting him. Her hands are back just under her chest instead of about even with her face. Her lower leg has slipped back as her heel came up. I am a little concerned that she will snap back up on the landing side of the jump instead of following his motion all the way to the landing.
Lauren’s saddle has slipped back substantially, which also handicaps her ability to stay over his center of balance. It is difficult to get a fuzzy girth quite tight enough. Always remember to check your saddle placement and girth tightness prior to walking into the ring. Lauren might like to try a non slip girth and/or saddle pad.
Limited Edition is beautifully turned out as is Lauren!
From: Judge Rob Gage
This looks like a hunter photo. Just remember as I go through this…I can get “kind of picky”.
Let’s start with your horse. He really uses his knees well. He gets them up as much as you could ask. I wish he would fold his lower legs tighter. From his knees on down, he formed a big square with his forelegs. I would like to see him fold up tighter at the knees & ankles. However, some horse just don’t feel the need to fold tigher, until the jumps get higher, and become more of a challenge.
I get the feeling he would like to stretch his head & neck out more. I want you to look where your hands are. They are just about under your collarbone, and about over the front of the horse’s withers. That’s just not enough release for a good hunter. In my opinion, you were restricting the use of his head & neck over this oxer.
This is at least an easy fix for you. Simply start your release a little sooner, and reach up his mane a little further. Ideally, your hands should start moving forward, at the exact same moment your horse begins to lift his front feet off of the ground. Finally, your heels came up some, which allowed your foot to slide backwards.
Try to keep some weight down all the way through your heels. But, let’s be honest…that really only matters in equitation or medal classes…for hunters, it’s inconsequential. Thanks for your photo. I think your horse has more ability than he can show at this height.
Follow up questions from Lauren:
I work with an excellent HJ coach regularly, and do Dressage clinics every now and then, but would also love your opinions on some exercises I can do to work on my lower leg placement?
I sometimes find because of his size and MASSIVE step, we eat the lines in a typical hunter round, which I think sometimes makes me feel in my brain that I can’t release as largely or we may end up a million miles away on the other side of the fence. We plan to move up to the 3′ ring this year and would love some advice on how I can work on a longer release without the worry of ending up a mile away on the other side of the fence.
Thanks so much again for taking the time to look at my picture!
From: Judge Carol Dean-Porter and Robert Gage
Lauren, I understand your instinct to pull back trying to make his stride “fit” between the two jumps. Remember that once he is in the air, you cannot restrict his stride. You must make your adjustments while he is on the ground, not in the air!
It is difficult in the lower levels because the distances are set for an “average to slightly short” stride. You will have to prepare for the shorter line by slowing/collecting his stride on the corner. If you can take 3 inches off of each step, the lines will ride easier for you. But this needs to happen in advance, not as you get close to the jump. Also, the judges will notice any sudden pace change.
Exercises for leg strength: two point, ride without stirrups, lunging with no hands (if he is quiet enough) with or without stirrups to develop secure seat and leg.
Your saddle has slipped substantially, which also makes your leg looser. Here is a great pad for you to consider:
EcoGold Stabilizer™ Hunter Pad: http://www.smartpakequine.com/ecogold-stabilizer-hunter-pad-7389p.aspx