Help with my position over fences?
This is an issue I've had for quite a while, but didn't notice it until finally at a clinic, the trainer told me my jumping position is bad. Approaching the fence, I have a really good position; shoulders back, elbows bent, strong in the back...blah blah. But over the jump, I either get too round, or "stand up", or do something that isn't pretty. When I'm warming up during a lesson my trainer has me walk/trot/canter in my two-point and then it is perfect. But I can't maintain that position over the jump. Suggestions anyone?
I used to have the same problem, I'd either roach/round my back or stand up. I finally figured out that I was too stiff in my hips and upper body. Let your horse close your hip angle for you when he jumps and let your arms be nice and relaxed. If you still have a rounded back problem try riding with a lunge or dressage whip behind your back and threaded through your elbows. It will feel really weird but it will help you to not round your back. Do this on the flat and while jumping. It really helped me.
Here's a picture to show you what I mean about the whip placement. I just searched Google and found one.
Sounds like you're approaching already in jumping position and then trying to do more over the fence? I have an exercise that might help. Canter around in your "good" position. When you get to a small fence or cross rail, just think about unbending your elbows and nothing else. The idea is to do absolutely nothing except provide a release. If anything on your upper body moves besides your arms, you did it wrong.
I also have a rather unflattering jumping position. I have fixed it considerably by doing that above exercise. Once I realized I could move my arms independent of my upper body, jumping became extremely less complicated.
Your heels could be pushed down more and your leg looks a smidge too forward, which may also be playing a role in your jumping position. Push more into your heels (without standing and no knee gripping, think of your calf as being the point of contact and your knees as shock absorbers) and think of bringing your belly button down to the pommel of the saddle and arching your back like a cat (although not too exaggeratedly). You're too upright, so think of bringing your forearms down more into your horses neck.
I know you said you w/t/c in two point just fine, but have you tried it with no reins? Go back to basics, get on a lunge line and take the reins away. If you're truly in the correct position, you should be balances, butt not touching the saddle, not posting (if trotting) and not leaning on the horses neck. A lot of people think they're two point on the flat is great, but it falls apart when the reins are gone since they are balancing on the horses mouth. I feel like this may be your problem.
Also try going over some poles or small gymnastics in your two point, both with and without reins. So assume the position on the flat and try to hold if over the poles. It should get you started with thinking about how you're doing it over the jumps.
This is going to sound crazy but it really worked for me.
If you are on a horse that you trust to go in a straight line over the fence, close your eyes about one or two strides out. It forces you to stop anticipating the fence. You have to really focus on how your horse moves and how the jump feels. It helped me close my hip angle and stop getting ahead of my horse. Not to mention I stopped sitting up so fast after the jump which was great for my position. I usually did it over a two fence line. Have the first one set you up well for the second one so you don't need to be freaking out about if the horse will hit the right distance and such. Then just close your eyes. It's scary but you should start feeling a difference. It took me a couple times with me eyes open before I trusted my horse to go through it.
Sounds crazy... but it worked :)
Thanks everyone. :) I will try all of these exercises and see how they work.
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