Dressage/Jumping Critique - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 3 Old 11-04-2012, 10:45 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2011
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Dressage/Jumping Critique

I'm new here, so hello everyone

Quick background on my horse and I:

My horse is an 8 1/2 year old OTTB gelding named Lego. I got him two and a half years ago and the first year was mostly spent putting weight on him. I'm training him for lower level eventing. I've competed up to training in the past with another horse but haven't ever had consistent lessons with a decent trainer. There is only one boarding farm within a reasonable distance of my house that takes proper care of their horses and that is where I keep Lego. Unfortunately they do not allow outside trainers and the on-site trainer really doesn't have a clue and teaches backwards (pull horse onto bit by sawing with hands type of deal). Also, I do not have a truck/trailer or access to one so that keeps me from trailering to my trainer. However I occasionally take lessons with her on her horses and I consult with her on problems I have with Lego. So long story short, I do my best with the resources I have (the internet and emails to the trainer).

Lego and I are currently competing beginner novice and schooling novice. I've been doing TONS of grids with him because he gets lazy over small jumps and will hang his knees quite a bit. These pictures were taken last week. My stirrups are a hole or two long. I usually jump with a shorter stirrup but I've been having knee pains and decided to see if dropping the stirrups for a while will help. The second jumping picture was an awkward jump. He got under it a bit and I was left behind.

The dressage picture was from our last CT. I realize I look tense. Possibly pinching with my knee as well?

Thanks guys!

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post #2 of 3 Old 11-04-2012, 02:57 PM
Join Date: Jul 2012
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First picture looks good. Good alignment from ear-hip-heel and from elbows-hands-bit.

Second picture looks good as well. Your leg is strong and sturdy and in line with your hip. You are not pinching with your knees at all. Your release is appropriately generous as well. Your foot is nicely parallel with the horse as well.

Third pic you've fallen behind the horse by jamming your leg forward and falling behind in your hips. You're going to put a lot of strain on your knee this way upon landing and come back too soon hindering your horse's jump.

Overall you look great. Your hard work has paid off and it shows. Try not to get in the habit of jamming your leg forward though or else you won't do any favors for your knees.
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post #3 of 3 Old 11-06-2012, 07:14 PM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Australia
Posts: 8,175
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I'll only critique your Dressage shot, as I am a Dressage rider and really quite hopeless at jumping ;)

You have a good basic position and Lego looks to be travelling well, he is forward, hind legs are engaged and he is nicely into your contact.
There are just a few tweaks to be made with your seat.
In the photo provided, your upper body has tipped forward, making your grip your knees and upper legs to remain balanced. Your shoulders are quite stuck, and as such your elbows have come away from your sides. If Lego were to throw in a buck at this moment, you would be VERY lucky to stay seated.
I'd like to see you sit right back on your seat bones. Close your eyes, take a deep breath in, then as your exhale try to feel the two points of your seat in contact with the saddle. This is where you want to be riding. Your upper body should then come upright of its own accord, with your shoulders balanced directly over your hips. From here, allow your legs to 'hang' from your hips. Legs shouldn't be exerting any pressure on the horse's sides, other than feeling like wet towels draping down the saddle. Developing loosing hips is greatly beneficial for this, you need to be able to sit on your seat bones, and relax your legs completely. As soon as you start to grip, you are giving the horse signals constantly, so your driving aids start to become blurred.

Allow your arms to relax, drop your shoulders, and allow your elbows to sit along your sides. Ideally - and this takes a lot of work on building muscles and flexibility - you will be able to have your elbows sit on or just above your hips. In this position, your lower arm is free and loose, so the horse becomes more confident in your ability to provide contact. You will also be sinking more weight into your seat bones, creating a highly stable position from which you will be able to effectively direct the horse with your seat. And, should the horse throw in a buck or spook, you're very unlikely to be unseated.
Your elbow acts like a hinge, the upper arm should not move from its position along your torso, while your elbow moves with the horse's topline in walk and canter. If you can master this, you will develop excellent contact and a much better feel.
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