Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: The great, white expanse of Maine...ugh!
You're looking pretty good, but there are some changes you should definitely make. In the first picture especially, your jumping position is artificial - in that it's not at all functional, but rather an exaggerated pose on the horse. You need to fix that leg; not all horses will be tolerant of that driving heel, and should they protest, your lack of leg contact will result in you on the ground! Consciously focus on turning your toe in and having an even contact through the inside-back of your calf. Position your stirrup so that the outer branch is ahead of the inside branch, and your pinkie toe touches it. Do gridwork, gridwork, gridwork on a reliable horse that will just jump through and focus all your attention on that leg. Do a ton of the dreaded no-stirrups work - artificial leg position is a function of over-reliance on the stirrups. If stirrups didn't exist we'd all have fantastic legs!
Riding without stirrups will also make it really hard to duck. Ducking is a form of jumping ahead, and you would be better off using that extra energy to offer a bigger release. Ride into jumps in a more upright position - you want it to feel excessive at this point! Let the horse's jump thrust you out of the saddle, but NOT onto the neck.
Your release is pretty much good, but on the chestnut you're taking a little too much of a hold. It looks as though this horse would like to reeeeaallly go deep in the neck over a fence, which can be a little disconcerting, especially if you're already on his neck. Work on small fences so the height isn't a concern, and loop the reins a stride out from each jump so there is NO contact. This can be refined later, but for now you want to get the feel of letting your horse do the work for you.
Your bay horse is very cute, and any form issues he may exhibit will likely disappear when you fix yourself. Your jumping ahead seems to manifest itself in the literal sense with him as opposed to the chestnut, but I do prefer your release on this big guy. The only thing I would really work on with him is the flatwork - he seems like a calm, well-schooled jumper, but judging by this picture, the flatwork appears to have been neglected. Book a lesson or two with a dressage instructor and teach yourself and your horse a true, balancing half-halt to shift his weight from his forehand to his haunches. Learn to use your seat and leg to aid your horse and get him working in a nice outline, rather than riding him downward into a tight rein, where he can leeeeaaaaan and probably pull your arms out of their sockets! He needs to work on coming upward in his body and shortening the frame, and having experienced eyes-on-the-ground will make your life so much easier.
Good luck - you guys will be great with some polishing! :)
And now, the men of the Second Armored Division with their famous close-order swanning about.