Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New South Wales, Australia
People usually put their stirrups up before jumping. I would shorten mine by about 3 holes, but I ride with a long dressage length. This allows you to get out of the saddle properly. Your leg stays in the same position over the jump, but because you'll be riding with shorter stirrups your legs will be in a slightly different position to normal.
For small jumps you don't need to go close to the horses neck. You just tilt your upper body forward a little, and slide your hands forward. Remember to give with your hands, do not pull on your horses mouth as he stretches over the jump.
It can be hard to judge the strides that you need to put in because each horses are a different length. Just notice how much ground a stride covers, and where your horse takes off. Then you can adjust the horses stride so that he can easily take off where he normally does.
Practice "grids". This is where there are a few jumps in a row. There might be one, two or three strides between each jump, and some might have no strides (bounce). This will get you and your horse used to striding and balance. Remember its up to you to select striding.
Shorter stirrups might help you keep your foot in. Focus on keeping your heels down. Practice trotting and cantering in your two point position (standing in your stirrups/hands forward). This will strengthen your muscles and make it easier for you to stay solid over the jumps.