Okay... I've never heard of the automatic release over here in AUS. Also, we don't have hunters/jumpers here either. There is Showjumping, which I guess is like your jumpers, and Equitation, which might be a little like your hunters. It's basically a round of jumping where they judge you on a scoresheet similar to dressage, on position, approach, line, etc. Plus you have to do tasks, I.e. Trot to fence 1, 4 strides between 6a and 6b, so on and so forth. You get scored on the tasks as well.
The only release I know of is a crest release... Over here that's the name for any release you give over a jump, and it simply varies in style/difficulty of jump, horses ability, etc.
So I guess i'm asking when you guys talk about an 'automatic release', what is it? And what is the difference between an automatic and a crest release?
There is a long and a short crest release. The long crest release is what most people start off jumping learn. You press your hands halfway up the horse's neck. Then when you're more stable you learn the short crest release, where you follow your horse's mouth more and only release about 6-8 in. It is much more subtle and you are able to have more control. When you are truly secure in your body and able to completely support yourself over the fence without needing your arms you are ready to learn the automatic release. This is when your hands follow your horse's mouth over the fence. So instead if them being on top of your horse's neck they will be next to his neck, making a straight line from the bit through the rein, through your arm to your elbow. This allows the most control but is the hardest to master. You don't see a lot of automatic releases in the hunter ring (I usually see short crest releases there unless it's a beginner). I think they're more popular with jumpers/eventers.
The crest release was brought to North America by George Morris *The Guru Of Hunter/Jumpers here* where the rider uses the horses neck for a base of balance. Where they press their knuckles into the crest of their horses neck - to support themselves without interfearing with the horses job.
If the rider cannot support their upper bodies with their lowers *meaning solid lower legs/heels/seat* then they need to do the crest to give them that balance and support.
*I cannot stand this form* but here's a picture of a crest:
The Automatic Release is where the rider does not need to use their horses crest to support themselves over the fence - where they can balance themselves freely by using the base of support through their lower bodies - meaning, lower leg solid at girth and heels deep and seat centered over their saddle.
The crest release was meant for 1 reason - to support the rider when they need it...and I believe it is highly over taught and over used.
When riders can clearly support themselves, they should be doing the automatic.
We end up seeing far too much perching and posing - as seen in the crest release pictures - now a day's in the show ring. Rediculous.
Ah okay. I understand now. Over here the automatic release is kind of the natural progression of the crest release... We too ahve the long and short crest release, and as you get better, you move on to following the horses mouth with your hands instead of using the crest. We just don't call it the automatic relaease!
This is a great post. I only first heard this term when I started getting practical horseman several years ago. If you don't mind, I would love to see some more pics. I personally use the crest release - MIEventer may I ask why you don't like it? What is everyone elses opinion or what do they use? I am very curious about releases as it is one area that I am weak.
I don't dislike the crest release when the rider uses it for the fact that they need the horses neck to balance.
A good rider - I am speaking of mid to upper levels - should beable to use the automatic when needed and the crest when needed.
But what is going on, are that riders - even when they clearly can be - are not using the automatic. It is rarely taught by coaches because *not all coaches* want their students to "look pretty" without effecting their horses - so we end up seeing perchers over fences.
Like in the thread I started FORM OVER FENCES.
What happens is that we see far too many using the crest, even when they clearly should be using the automatic.
MIEventer, I curious. WHat do you think of using the crest release if you CAN support yourself? I'm still getting back into jumping after nearly a year of non-consisten jumping, but on my last pony I leased, I could jump a small course (with a bounce) with "airplane arms". But, I do use a crest release (I do hunters) D you think this is bad?
There are many fabulous riders out there who do the crest release - but when they need it at that particular fence to support themselves and to not interfear with their horse.
A good rider can go from each release when needed - lets face it, not every fence is going to give us what we want right. Not every approach is good - so when we need to use the crest, please do.
BUT when you can support yourself with your lower body, and you can use the automatic - that is great.
What the issue is that I have - are that riders are using the crest as a crutch. They are not progressing forward to become a more functional rider. Also, I personally feel - that due to this crutch, we find people who end up perching/posing - to look pretty.
I think if you can support yourself with your lower body and are solid enough with your equitation to merge to the automatic - that would be wonderful.
If you can support yourself without the neck, an automatic release should be used when you are navigating through a tight combination in a cross country course or anticipating a tight turn or rollback in a showjumping course. It lets you quickly regain control when you land because it's a following hand -- you move with the horse's head.