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Jumping Clinic with George Morris

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Carousel horse

    This rider's heels are up and her lower leg is shoved forward, ruining her base of support. Until she can get her heels down and her leg under her she will continue to bounce uselessly in her saddle.
    Her poor leg position has left her unable to control her upper body. Her hands are high and she is sitting back, giving her horse no release. Until she learns to ride, she needs to grab mane, or anything she can get a hold of other than the reins. She needs to incline her upper body forward in what we call two-point position and put her hands down and forward so she stops interfering with her horse while he is trying to do his job.
    This horse's jump, with his head up and back arched, might be the preferred silhouette on a carousel, but it is considered very unattractive in the hunter arena. He is jumping like this because he is too busy fighting his rider, for which I cannot blame him. If his rider released her stranglehold on him, he might lower his head and jump properly.
    This pair's turnout is on par with the rider's ability. Clearly, the "SUPERIOR" sign on the jump was not meant for them. Perhaps it was meant for the other horse who was loitering in the arena. This rider's shirt, with the sleeves rolled up and open collar flapping around, make it clear that this rider is ready to get down to work mucking out stalls. This rider should use the cell phone on her belt to call a professional.


Watch out of flying horseshoes

    This rider's heels are shoved down and she has turned out her toes. To compensate for this weak base of support, she is clinging to her horse with her heels. She needs to relax her legs and sink her weight into her heels.
    This rider's insecurities have caused her to stay in the saddle over the fence. She needs to come up out of the saddle and slide her hands up her horse's neck for some semblance of a release. Getting off her horse's back and giving a release will enable the rider to flatten her back, bring her elbows in, and perhaps stop making faces. She needs to look up at her next fence—over a jump is not the time to contemplate what went wrong at her farrier appointment.
    This horse is making a huge effort over this moderately sized oxer. Her effort has left the spectators gasping for breath. The horse appears to be jumping with power rather than style. The look on this horse's face tells me she would rather make the decisions than leave such things to her incompetent rider.
    This pair's turnout is unremarkable. Their casual turnout is typical for schooling jumper classes. I prefer fitted saddle pads to the square saddle pads that everyone uses these days. The horse is clean and well-groomed, but lacks hoof polish. This pair's performance would improve significantly if the rider invested in some extra nails for her horse's shoes.


Sit back!

    This rider's foot has slipped almost completely out of her stirrup, ruining her base of support. Her lower leg position would be almost adequate if she put her entire foot properly in the stirrup, not just her outside toe. This would allow her to put her weight in her heel so she is able to close her hip angle slightly so there is at least some daylight between her buttocks and the saddle.
    It difficult to tell whether the rider is doing any sort of release or if she has just thrown away the reins completely. She needs to get her hands out of her lap and move them up her horse's neck in a crest release, which will help stabilize her upper body. She needs to bring her elbows in and to carry her hands evenly so that she looks like she is riding a horse, not square dancing. Her back is flat and her face shows intense concentration, but she is looking down and her eyes do not appear to be open.
    The timing of the photograph makes it difficult to judge the if the horse has any style. His inverted posture is most likely the result of his rider's failure to get out of the saddle over the fence.
    This pair needs to improve their turnout, even for schooling. Both horse's and rider's hair are wildly out of control--the horse is much in need of having its mane pulled and the rider is much in need of a hairnet. While I usually favor fitted saddle pads, this one I do not--a fitted saddle pad should be the same shape as the saddle. The rider needs to purchase appropriate boots and polish them. Sleeveless shirts are never appropriate, even if attempts are made to class it up with a collar.


complete release

    This rider has good leg angles. She has nicely closed her hip angle to follow her horse’s movement. This has prevented her from jumping ahead of her horse - a common flaw in the hunter arena. She does need to get more weight in to her heels to keep her from getting behind her horse’s motion.
    She is demonstrating the rarely used “complete release”, in which the rider gives the horse his head by dropping the reins entirely. For a rider of this level, I would recommend she use a crest release. By bringing her hands to her horse’s neck, she can use that extra support to prevent the backwards rotation of her body. Her back is slightly rounded. She needs to flatten her back and look up and at her next fence.
    The timing of this photo makes it difficult to critique this horse’s style over fences. He looks like a willing horse who is up for anything.
    This rider needs to change into appropriate schooling attire. Dirty chaps and tank tops have no place in a riding arena. Her horse’s hooves need to be polished. To liven up the jumps, try painting them. Draping worn out tarps over jumps is tasteless.

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