Release help
   

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Release help

This is a discussion on Release help within the Jumping forums, part of the English Riding category
  • How to release over fences
  • Releasing over fences

 
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    08-22-2010, 08:34 PM
  #1
Weanling
Release help

I am wanting to see if anybody has any ideas for me on how to help with my release over fences. My trainer has been working on fixing numerous problems that resulted from an old trainer, and one of them is not releasing at all, literally. Pretty much where my hands are going into the jump is where they stay over the jump. When it's a little fence (2' and under) that's not a big deal, but as the height goes up, it is. Her ideal spot for my hands in the crest release is to be under my chin or about one inch ahead of however far I needed to break over for the jump. (and she doesn't believe in breaking over really far, either - no laying on the neck allowed).

In the past, I was probably using my hands at that spot to brace off of, as I jumped ahead horribly. Now, that has improved, but the hands remain in that spot. Now, when I force my hands forward, it is like I pull my entire body forward with me, including seat and I get really ahead of myself again.

The other thing that affects my hands is that my trainer is working on flattening out my back and shoulders. We have this fixed on the flat and going into the jump, but it seems like when I am concentrating on keeping a flat back, it becomes tense and restricts my release even more. This is kinda going on a back burner as a less important issue over fences, but it still plays a roll.

The horse I am jumping is not the easiest. He is a very honest jumper - will always go over, and is safe, but often has a pause at the base and rocks back to jump very up and flat, not rounded, which she thinks is making the problem worse.

I'm not sure if any of this makes any sense, but I hope it does. Please let me know if you have any ideas. (oh, and to add in - on the flat my hands and seat are very independent - lots of time on the lunge line and riding without stirrups; I would say I am more of an advanced rider on the flat than over fences, which helps getting around the course but makes me more frustrated when I can't get something that should be basic while jumping)/
     
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    08-22-2010, 08:44 PM
  #2
Weanling
Wanted to add that when I go into the fence with a flat back and shoulders down and back, that forcing the release makes me round back out again - wanted to edit my last post, but it wouldn't let me.
Some pics added - unfortunately none are on the current horse I am riding.
1. Perfect example of all my old bad habits rolled into one
2. Typical release for me now (usually my knees don't pinch this bad)
3. Better release, but not perfect
4. Closer to what she wants
5. My position on the flat
And here's a video of me jumping - not the best, but will give you something moving to look at. (different horse yet again)
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Marley 10.jpg (64.8 KB, 141 views)
File Type: jpg Marley5-15-10e.jpg (86.1 KB, 140 views)
File Type: jpg Chance 2.jpg (73.4 KB, 140 views)
File Type: jpg Marley12.jpg (67.8 KB, 139 views)
File Type: jpg Maryley 1.jpg (33.8 KB, 137 views)
     
    08-22-2010, 09:09 PM
  #3
Trained
I almost posted a similar thread about this same thing. I was going to title it "I'm an idiot". The reason being, I also had a release problem until 2 days ago when I just started making a conscious effort to unlock my elbows and let my arms straighten and follow my horse's neck over the fence. I've been riding for years and just now figured out that the elbow angle is capable of opening and closing!! Duh! I know it sound very elementary, but just make a conscious effort to let your hands follow your horses neck. I did it by isolating my arms. I stayed up in my half seat, kept my upper body still and made my elbows the only moving part over the fences. I fixed both my release and my jumping ahead problem in about 10 minutes. I had to laugh because the solution was so simple, I can't believe it took me so long to figure it out.
I LOVE your horse by the way. He looks so relaxed and happy in that still shot. You're a good rider. Just try the elbow isolation thing. It really works.
     
    08-23-2010, 12:11 PM
  #4
Foal
I agree with Puck.

I had some release problems when I started jumping. It definitely has to do with the angle in your elbow.

I literally just had to tell myself during the entire approach "release, release, release".

Eventually it just becomes habit.
     
    08-24-2010, 08:30 PM
  #5
Weanling
Thanks for the ideas, guys. I just guess I'm frustrated at times. The riding on the flat comes easily for me, and my ability there is higher than my ability over fences, which is hard when I can't get my body to do the basic things I want it to do when I'm in the air. I'll work on isolating my elbows and see how it goes. At least the course work and rhythm of the fences has improved lately - it's just my form that is still in the toilet.

Oh, and MBPuck - that's for the compliments on the horse. He actually isn't mine, he's a school horse of my trainers but he is one that loves to jump. He has been known to try and jump fences on his own at times - a horse that truly loves his job
     
    08-24-2010, 10:49 PM
  #6
Green Broke
First of all I think you should be proud of yourself for making an effort and at least understanding what the goal should be. That's about 95% of the battle right there!

Were these pictures posted in chronological order? Because there's a bit of progress through them! I think the first 2 pictures really show why you've gotten into the habit of not releasing. It all started with your leg. Or lack thereof. Especially in the first pic, you can really see how you were completely on your knee, which throws your lower leg back, losing your foundation completely. So to compensate your upper body has thrown forward on your horse's neck and you are supporting yourself on your hands. With this picture alone George Morris would have said that you should go back to cross bars and reeducate your leg over the fences! The second one shows the same habit, but done in a slightly less dramatic fashion. Still on your knee, supporting yourself with your arms. But looking more stable. Still, difficult to release when you're on your hands like that! The progression to the 3rd picture is HUGE! Your leg is significantly better, you're much more over the center of your saddle, and you're able to release much better. Wow, huge improvement!

My guess is that because you started off with such an unstable leg it became habit for you to rely on your hands for balance, and even as your leg/support has improved considerably your hands are still in the habit of locking in place. Watching your video I also see a very stiff arm in between fences, almost like you're trying to clamp them in place. Think of your joints being smooth and following. Instead of holding your horse your'e going to follow his mouth. One trainer I worked with called it "oily joints". I think that sounds kind of gross but it makes sense. As fluid as you can. Then think of the jump as just another part of the canter, your hands are simply following your horse's mouth in a fluid motion. If your release is that much of a bad habit, you may have to really exaggerate the release for a while to get used to it.

One of the absolute best ways to work on position over fences is through a series of gymnastics. Over and over and over. Go through a million times until your leg learns to stay perfectly still. Only when you have a correct and stable leg can you really fix everything else. Then work on keeping your upper body still as your arms stay fluid. Have you ever jumped without reins? They don't have to be big fences, but tie your reins in a knot, hold your arms out to the side and go through the gymnastics working on letting your body depend soley on your legs. That's a really great exercise!

I think you should be encouraged though. I see quite a bit of improvement!
     
    08-28-2010, 10:38 PM
  #7
Weanling
Upnover - thank you for the compliments and suggestiions- the photos actually aren't in chrono order, which explains part of my frustration. That sometimes I can keep a secure leg, and other times it just goes out in the breeze. The first and last photos are actually taken on the same weekend.

Thank you for pointing out my stiff arms between the fences on the video. I didn't even think about that. I used to follow my horses mouth a lot more effectively, but my old trainer refused to let us follow the horse's mouth. Said it threw the horse on their front end and he wanted us to be stiff to resist the horses movement. I went back and looked at the last video I have of me jumping from years ago before I went to him - man, my elbows looked different between the fences. Release wasn't great back then, but better than now. Tonight on the flat, I really concentrated on just following the motion of the horse when working in two-point. Maybe if I get used to it on the flat, it will make releasing over the jumps easier for me.

My trainer has been working me on some gymnastics exercises, trying to get me to be still throughout them and let the horse carry me through them. Unfortunately, he's not trustworthy enough to jump without reins, though.
     
    08-30-2010, 12:38 AM
  #8
Green Broke
Hm, interesting. How were your distances to the first pic and the last pic? The first pic it looks like maybe he chipped in? It's much much harder to stay in a good place when your horse chips in or leaves long.

Just curious, what would you say is your level of anxiety to and over the fences? I may be going out on a limb here, but I'm wondering if you're getting anxious to the fence and that's disrupting your position, which will affect your security, which will not allow you to properly release. I would describle myself as a pretty confident rider but I (and all riders) still have anxiety in me. Anxiety doesn't necessarily mean being afraid of falling off. My biggest fear is doing it wrong. I grew up with a trainer who absolutely pitched a fit if you missed a distance (she taught me a lot that wasn't great either) and in consequence, sometimes when I know I'm not getting to it perfect in anticipation I throw my body forward (Jump ahead) or do other funky things. It's all anxiety. It all expresses itself differently in people. Are you waiting for the jump to come to you or are you trying to "make the distance happen"?

If this is a possibility, I just did an exercise you could try that I think is great.... a series of about 4 trot rails (about 4"9 apart) that are 9"6 away from a cross bar. You may want to trot the rails several times without the crossbar to get rhythm. When do you jump it, just trot up and let the jump happen. Your horse's jump will fold your hip as he comes up to you. Think about keeping your hip relaxed and soft, while your upper body is still. You should not be in your 2 point until your horse's back foot leaves the ground. That will be your goal. The trot poles will get you to the fence, all you have to do is wait for your horse to take off. It's an excellent exercise to keep your body patient so you follow your horse over the fence rather then jumping for him.

And speaking of previous trainers that weren't good.... yours refused to let you follow your horse's mouth so you could resist your horse's movement??? How is your horse supposed to jump when they are being restricted like that??? Wow. Stiffness is NEVER good in jumping! Quiet and still? Yes. But stiff? No.
     
    08-30-2010, 01:00 PM
  #9
Uma
Foal
I too have had a problem with releasing bit have recently fixed it because, like Puck said, THE ELBOWS CAN UNLOCK! It's so simple but one of those things.

One of the things that really helped me was when my trainer set up a grid for us to go through. You come in at trot and approach the grid in your two point. Really focus on unlocking your elbows and sliding your hands forward and following your horses neck. When I did this the jumps were about at 2'3" and my horse kept knocking the jumps. As soon as my trainer told me to release and I really focused on it my horse stopped knocking because he was able to use his neck.

Hope this helps!
     
    09-18-2010, 10:05 PM
  #10
Weanling
I know this thread is old but wanted to give you guys an update. Today, my trainer said something that finally made it all click in my head what I am doing wrong. Sometimes I really feel myself literally grab ahold of my horse's mouth as we are coming up off the ground, like pulling my arms back in the wrong direction. It's worse when I am at a wrong distance. However, even at a correct distance where I don't feel myself doing that, and am really concentrating on following his mouth, I am still doing it to a smaller degree. When she commented on this (after a jump I didn't feel it on - I thought I had a good release - I did, over the jump but not going up), she pointed out that I am using my hands to pull my upper body forward into an exaggerated position, then releasing.

As soon as she said it, it all clicked. The horse I'm riding likes to stall at the bases (never stops, but stalls), and this makes it even worse. And it's like I'm jumping the jump for him. So she had me really concentrating on framing him up going into the fence, using proper impusion and drive being initiated (sp?) from my legs, and now that I know what I am doing, staying in place instead of trying to help him off the ground (which is what I was doing and in the process making it worse). It wasn't perfect, but I had a number of jumps today where I finally felt it go right. Those bad distances I still wanted to go back to old habits, but it was better. But man, my legs are exhausted today. They haven't worked that hard in a long time. We're supossed to video me next weekend, and if I get a copy I'll try to post it.
     

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