Sarah Rijkenberg and Finnivaire—July 27, 2012
From: Judge Carol Dean-Porter
This horse is a terrific jumper with his legs up beautifully. He appears to have plenty of scope to jump across this oxer effortlessly. In fact, I have the feeling it is almost too easy for him as he has a “ho hum” expression and does not really lower his neck much. With some of these superior athletes, we have to “challenge” them a bit before they really put out much effort.
Your lower leg is in very good position but could have a bit more depth in your heel. I wonder if your stirrups are a hole too long. You have jumped ahead of his motion with most of your body up the neck. Your reins were probably too short as you have a contact and your hands 2/3 of the way up the neck.
You have also handicapped yourself by your saddle having slipped back substantially. This has forced you to make a big effort to stay over his center of balance and caused you to hunch your back as part of that effort. Check your saddle placement and girth tightness prior to walking into the ring. You may like to try a non slip girth/pad. I also wonder about your martingale length, as it has a huge loop. I am not a fan of tight martingales, but this one may be too loose.
NICE HORSE and GOOD JOB!
From: Judge Rob Gage
Your horse is a wonderful jumper. Even though I suspect you got him a little tight to this oxer, he still got his knees up GREAT! I think that short spot is what caused you to push your own body too far forward as you broke over.
I would like to see you tilt forward with your upper body, but still keep your hips centered over your saddle &
your stirrups. You very correctly employ a crest release to help support your body in mid-air. Make sure you keep your head up, so you don’t “roll your shoulders” or “round your upper spine”. Your heels are just level, with your knees positioned in the center of the knee-roll. Therefore, if you really drove your heels down, I think you would find your stirrups a hole too long.
You’re a lucky girl Sarah, I think you got yourself a really nice horse!!
Follow up questions from Sarah:
#1. I have a problem with throwing my body forward, as you mentioned. I was wondering if you have any tips or exercises to use that could help me stay centered?
#2. What is your favourite flat exercise? I’m always looking to do new things with this mare, because she’s so smart and gets bored easily. I think flat work is super important, and need different exercises to work both her body AND her brain. I would love to have a new idea or two to try!
From: Judge Carol Dean-Porter
Question #1: Think about the approach this way: hold your two point position on the approach, let your arms release first and then let the thrust of the horse’s jump close your hip angle. Let her jump up to you, don’t try to jump for her. When you are strong enough in your legs and core, you will be able to control your body in the air. Ideally, try to keep about a 6 inch gap between his neck and your chest.
Question #2: I agree, flat work is super important. Imagine how boring it is to do nothing but go around and around in circles! Try to get her outside the “normal” work environment. You can do lots of “flat work” on the trail, if you have one available. Work on your lateral aids: haunches in, shoulder in, lengthening and shortening, turn on haunches, etc… this is lots more fun than just getting dizzy on the Merry-Go-Round! It is important to spend lots of time going forward on a soft rein with hunters as they are expected to “flow” down the lines without pace changes!
From: Judge Robert Gage
Question #1: I used to use a crest release. When you place your hands, wrists & forearms all on top of your horse’s crest, you build an extra strong support for your upper body. Be careful NOT to let your elbows drop below his mane….that is a common error.
Question #2: I actually really do have a favorite flat exercise. I like to canter, and circle ALL of the jumps in the arena. Sometimes, when I begin, I might circle two at a time, so my circles start out bigger….later, I circle them all….one at a time. That brings my circles in tighter. Those tight circles keep the horse focused mentally, but also teaches them balance at a shorter stride. Don’t forget to canter forward once in a while and stretch his stride out again. Good luck!