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- - Hunter releases? (http://www.horseforum.com/hunters-hunter-seat-equitation/hunter-releases-101933/)
I was just wondering, because I don't ride it myself, but why do I always see long loops in the reins between riders hand and bit for releases? It there a reason for that?
This isn't the worst I've seen... but why??
I would have thought that for Hunter you would have gone with something more sophisticated such as an automatic release. Atleast thats how it is normally done in NZ.
They can leave it up to jumpers and eventers here to do the auto-releases. ;)
Crest releases are regrettably standard in American show hunters and equitation, but taking support from the horse's crest and leaving a little loop or float in the rein are two different things/techniques.
For a hunter, who is not going to execute a tight turn or dramatically change balance or pace immediately upon landing, the release should be as soft and as generous as possible because you want the horse to jump in a relaxed frame, stretched out over the fence with complete freedom of the head and neck. It also demonstrates that the horse doesn't have to be held together or "packaged' in the air by the rider. (A horse that needs that support in the air to jump well, is, de facto, not a good hunter.)
In the photo you used as an example, the horse is jumping in wonderful hunter form with the ideal relaxed but alert hunter attitude. So I'd say the release is mannered, but effective. Of course it would be better if the rider's hand were 3 - 4 inches lower and actually pressed on the horse's neck, but I'm critiquing the execution of the release by saying that, not that there's float or slack in the rein.
Auto releases are more standard in jumping and eventing, where you need the extra bit of control and influence that maintianing contact in the air provides. It is also a more difficult and more sophisticated release for the rider to execute. While I think nothing's prettier than a good hunter being ridden well and "jumping out of hand" ie, ridden with a soft, following auto releases; you won't see that is a US hunter ring any more.
to not interfere with the horse's head
I think the reason why I believe the Auto should be used is that Show Hunter, stemmed from hunting horses as a way to judge them, the relaxed attitude, the clean jumping, the willingness, the adjustability of stride, all things needed out in the hunt field. So to me having a more efficient release, especially as things can be going mighty fast out on the hunt field so you want to be in control. So to me the auto makes sense.
Sadly CessBee... in the US, Show Hunters are far from their original ideal of a field hunter. These releases were meant as a step for beginner riders, but have been drilled in by fashion because big name trainers used them. Now it's all lesser trainers teach.... just like peanut rolling in AQHA, once the general populace uses it long enough, it becomes the standard.
George Morris created the crest release, for beginner riders or riders who cannot support their upper bodies through their lower legs. It was created to help them stay out of their horses way over a fence.
Then the idea was to introduce or graduate those riders who have solidified their lower legs and can clearly support their upper bodies through their lower, to the Automatic Release.
But as you stated, the crest has become such a common fact, that it is rare to see automatic releases in the hunter ring, because god forbid..they just might not pin.
George Morris was one of Gordon Wright's students.
(Littauer lived 1892 - 1989, Wright lived 1903 - 1990, Morris was born in 1938. They were teaching the technique in the 30's, literally before Morris was born)
George *is* responsible for popularizing the crest release and through his very dominant influence, making it standard in the US hunter ring.
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