Hunter Jumpers: Arch in the Lower Back? - The Horse Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 29 Old 06-14-2010, 02:47 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 23
• Horses: 0
Hunter Jumpers: Arch in the Lower Back?

Recently my instructor has had me practicing jumping/riding in two-point with an exaggerated arch in my lower back, sticking my butt out as much as possible. However, in the riding critique section I have read positive comments for riders with straight/flat backs and negative critiques of riders arching their lower back and am wondering if it really is a bad thing? Or is it just a discipline-specific difference, not necessarily bad or good? Perhaps it is correct to arch the lower back in hunters, but not in the other disciplines? I do like/trust my instructor but after reading that specific critique so many times, and with it being what I have been practicing, I am confused and just have to ask! Tia
Cupcake is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 29 Old 06-14-2010, 07:22 AM
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 5,289
• Horses: 0

It would be really helpful in answering your question is you posted a photo of yourself riding over fences. Perhaps your instructor is trying to correct a bad habit in your riding, like roaching your back?

The overly hollow back is a form fault because it robs you of flexibility and the ability to follow the horse's motion. If your instructor is not trying to correct a different form fault by exaggerating the opposite, then she is teaching you something mannered and incorrect. Her reasons for this might be that she knows that's the form that gets pinned on your local show circuit, or that she truly believes that style is correct.

Why don't you ask her? Politely, of course. Bring her a copy of Practical Horseman, or one of George Morris's books, and ask her which back position is correct and why.
maura is offline  
post #3 of 29 Old 06-14-2010, 09:34 AM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Eventing Country
Posts: 8,220
• Horses: 0
I board at a very large Hunter/Jumper barn, and the arch in the lower back seems to be a "popular" thing - and just as already stated by Alison - it is an unfunctional form that pins in the Hunter ring because it is "pretty".

As already stated, the lower back arch makes the rider unfunctional. As the "Late and Great" Sally Swift said:

Imagine a bowl of water resting in your center. You as the rider must keep it balanced and centered so that no water spills. That water, represents your balance.

If you arch your lower back, you've now become unbalanced and that water will now gust out your front end.

If you roach your lower back, you have once again, become unbalanced, and all that water now gushes out your back.

By keeping your lower back strait, you are more functional as a rider for your horse, than you would be with a hollowed out lower back and a roached lower back.

Also, lets examine your core. What is the most important factor when riding? Your core. Your core is the center of everything with your riding, to remain functional and solid, you must have an activated core. By you hollowing out your lower back, you've lost alot of the ability to use your core properly.

While sitting there, arch your lower back. Try to activate your core. Feel it. Now, while sitting there, straiten your lower back, now - activate your core again. Feel it.

Can you feel a difference between the two? I most definately can.

That core, is VERY important. When you are riding, it must be in use every stride your horse takes. It cannot be useful, with a hollowed out lower back.

Just as Alison said, go get George Morris's Equitation books and show them to your coach and ask her who is correct - her, or the "god" of Hunter/Jumpers, George Morris.

Ask her why, why is she wanting you to have a hollowed out lower back. Ask her how does that make you a functional rider.

MIEventer is offline  
post #4 of 29 Old 06-14-2010, 08:39 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 23
• Horses: 0
Thank you for the reply, Maura.

You make a good point. It may indeed be a case of exaggerating the opposite. I had developed the habit of using my lower back as a shock absorber and we began practicing the exaggerated position in part to break that habit.

I will of course talk to her about it. I do not have any recent pictures of myself riding, although I wish I did! It would be nice to be able to post in the critique section. You can never have too much good advice.

Thank you for the informative post, MIEventer.

When I arch my back I do feel unbalanced and struggle with tipping forward as the article describes. But when you first learn a new skill, it always does feel awkward and difficult... So I couldn't tell if the tipping was simply because the muscle sets required are weak and unaccustomed to holding that position.

It may also be that what I feel/experience as a very pronounced arch in my back doesn't appear quite as arched... It could be that I'm just not used to riding without folding in at the lower back.

I wouldn't think that my instructor would teach me to ride in an unfunctional manner. It may be that either this practice is to help me break a bad habit or just feels worse than it is (my lower back is killing me!).

At any rate, thank you for the replies, and I will ask my instructor to clarify exactly what my back is doing and what it should be doing.
Cupcake is offline  
post #5 of 29 Old 06-14-2010, 09:27 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 123
• Horses: 0
My old instructor taught me to arch my back and I recently stopped riding with her and Wed. I start with a new instructor (the switch was because my old barn only jumped up to 2'3" and I wanted to do more). I never really thought about asking the "whys" of riding until some what recently. My old intructor said that you arch your back so you won't get hit in the face if the horse pops his/her head over a jump, and I understand that. But I also understand the arguement against arching your back. I'm curious to see what my new instructor will expect from me, she is a much more experienced trainer then my old one (I loved her to death and she was a great instructor, but she was young and didn't have tons of experience).
But does anyone have comments on the whole arching your back so you don't get poped in the face? I'm not sure how true that is, it just makes sense to me.
horsequeen373 is offline  
post #6 of 29 Old 06-14-2010, 10:18 PM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Eventing Country
Posts: 8,220
• Horses: 0
Horsequeen - I have to say, that this is the first time I have ever heard anyone say that you arch your lower back to prevent you from getting schmucked in the face when going over a fence.

I am trying very hard to understand this concept.........nope, can't comprehend it. It makes absolutely NO sense to me what-so-ever.

How does this prevent you from getting hit in the face? What does an arch in your lower back, have to do with your upper body?

MIEventer is offline  
post #7 of 29 Old 06-14-2010, 10:44 PM
Super Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Posts: 16,404
• Horses: 0
Horsequeen, I'm not sure I understand how arching your back can make you MORE secure while jumping. In my experience, it does just the opposite.
Allison Finch is offline  
post #8 of 29 Old 06-14-2010, 10:45 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Alberta, Canada
Posts: 11,772
• Horses: 0
I have to say I absolutely hate that "arching" your lower back gets pinned. It's not functional, and I don't find it pretty in the least. When you arch your back, you change your pelvic tilt, which changes your balance. Your pelvis should be mostly neutral through your ride, with small adjustments for various movements.

The lovely images above provided by CVLC Photography
JustDressageIt is offline  
post #9 of 29 Old 06-15-2010, 03:14 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 123
• Horses: 0
Because when you arch your lower back it lifts your upper body up so if the horse pops their head up your upper body is higher up so you won't get hit. The more I think about it though the less sense it makes.
Allison, I never said it makes me more secure; I've never done anything else so I have no clue how it effects how secure you are.
Posted via Mobile Device
horsequeen373 is offline  
post #10 of 29 Old 06-15-2010, 04:03 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 3,220
• Horses: 0
Arching your back is NOT "something hunters do". I think often it isn't penalized and unfortunately a lot of people think it's much better then roaching your back (if you read the above posts, people are right when they say it's just as bad!). However, I'm wondering if Maura is on to something about fixing a habit. My trainer friend was telling me about one of her students who had a terrible habit of ducking hard to the left over every fence. They had many many lessons and discussions about staying over the center of the horse, why you don't duck, gymnastics, jumping without stirrups, etc and the kid still ducks left. Finally one day she told her to duck hard to the right. Whatya know the kid straightened herself out! Is it correct to actually duck right? No. But often if you have a bad habit you have to exaggerate the opposite to actually get it correctly. Perhaps this wording of "arch your lower back and stick out your butt" -while not entirely correct- gets you to ride correctly. The hard thing about being a trainer is to find the right words/explanation to get the correct results from a rider. But the again maybe your trainer is mistaken. There are a lot of riders who go around like this. It's a flaw known in the hunter ring as "duck butt". :)
upnover is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Supple Lumbar Spine and Lower Back Muscles dressagexlee Dressage 7 02-07-2010 02:02 AM
Lower leg? JumpingJellyBean English Riding 7 12-06-2009 08:19 PM
Stable lower leg! dreamrideredc Horse Talk 4 10-04-2009 01:31 PM
Hello from slower lower, De PaintedDolly13 Meet the Community 3 07-03-2009 11:30 PM
Spinal Cord/Lower back Injury.... im4dressage Horse Health 5 04-28-2008 09:40 AM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome