Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Jacksonville, NC
The two biggest faults are your release and your knees.
It’s important to release with your hands when you jump because horses have to stretch their necks to jump. If your hands are stationary then when she goes to stretch out, the bit is pulling in her mouth. OUCH! You can Google or YouTube what a crest release looks like, and when you have a consistent independent seat, can work on the auto release.
Pinching our knees is a very, very common fault. Our goal is to stay on the horse when it jumps, and it’s instinctive to grasp with everything we have to cling to the hurtling animal. The knee is our main leg joint, so that’s what we use to hold on. Remember to ride around your horse, not just perched on top. Until it becomes habit, you will have to consciously remind yourself to sink all your weight through your legs and down into your stirrups. Make sure your legs are resting softly against the sides of the saddle- not too tight, but there should be no air between your legs and the saddle. When you learn to stop grasping at the saddle, your legs will not swing back nearly as much.
As others have mentioned, you are either in front of or behind your horse’s motion. We, as riders, really don’t give our horses enough credit or trust them enough when jumping. I always remind myself that the horse wants to get over it safely as much as we do, and the horse will do everything in its power to do that. Your horse will judge the distance and when it needs to take off and how much power is needed to get over it. The less we do to screw with the horse’s process, the better. Jumping ahead causes the horse to have to work harder to clear the jump, since all your weight is on its front end. Being left behind can cause a hard landing because the horse to compensate for all the weight that is suddenly on its back end. Let the horse tell your body when it’s time to get out of the saddle and when it’s time to settle back in, and let the horse be the one to close your hip joints. This takes so much practice, it’s not even funny. The no stirrup and two-point work will definitely help, but really actually jumping is the only way to get this down pat. You said you only get to jump once a week…would you be able to ask if you can ride other horses in addition to jumping once a week? Or when hacking out, are there small logs or objects you can practice jumping with?
You look like you have a solid foundation, now it’s just time to apply that to jumping!