Hi all :-)
I often read people talking about different releases over jumps. Could someone clarify the different types? And why they are used, what for, when etc?
The primary releases used are a crest (sometimes called "long", although this is more old-fashioned) release and an automatic release (also called a "following hand). In George Morris's Hunter Seat Equitation he also details a "short" release, although I think these days that would often just be grouped in with a crest release.
A crest release is when you move your hands to about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way up the horse's neck as they jump, pressing your hands into the crest of the horse's neck. This release is used at all levels of riding and is typically the first release a kid would learn when learning to jump, because you can easily grab mane if you are unseated. This release will give you a little additional security, as you have the extra support of the horse's neck, since you're pressing your hands into the crest. You shouldn't be balanced on your hands, resting your weight on the horse's neck, however. I feel as though that's a common error beginning riders will make. As I said though, you see this release at all levels of riding, from kids starting out all the way up to Olympic riders. It's the most common release in the US.
An automatic release (aka, following hand or jumping out of hand) is when you keep the same contact with the horse's mouth over the jump as you do on the flat, allowing your hand to follow the horse's mouth as he stretches his head and neck over the fence. The rider keeps the same straight line from bit to elbow over the apex of the jump as they would have on the flat using an automatic release. This release allows for a more consistent contact and some would argue a greater level of control, as you're not dropping the contact over the fence and picking it up again on landing. George Morris described this as the most advanced release.
Thanks a lot :D
I use a "modified" crest release. I never use the crest release I see so often in the hunter ring these days. They are putting their hands on TOP of the crest and leaning all of their upper body weight on them like a prop. This tips them too far forward and they often are almost laying on the horse's neck. The lower leg often slips back further destabilizing the rider's center of gravity. It also locks the reins and doesn't allow any actual release if the horse needs to stretch out and down.
This is all only OK if you are jumping a low hunter course that needs very little from the rider.
I will use a "modified" release where I have my hands on the sides of the horse's neck. If the horse needs a little freedom, I am able to stretch my arms forward to offer a release. Here, I am riding aggressively for time and am pushing it. I am using the modified release here. It may appear I am "laying" on the neck, but it is because of the size of jump and the speed. If I were in this position with my feet on the ground, I would not fall on my nose.
I usually try to use an automatc release. It requires you to have a good center of balance with no tipping forward. It allows the very best feel for the horse's mouth and allows quick and efficient adjustments and turns.
There are two types of a crest release:
LONG- this is for beginners learning to jump. Hands halfway up the neck giving plenty of rein so you don't hit the horse in the mouth over the fence.
SHORT- Keeping contact on your horse's mouth over the fence, but still resting your hands on the crest for a little extra support.
The goal is the Automatic release that Allison explained. It requires a strong balaned base of support and a good following hand. It is a more advanced release and IMO should not be attempted until you are able to do these two things very well. I have attended several clinics with George Morris and he did not teach the auto release until his groups that were jumping 3"9-4". His 3"6 groups were learning how to perfect the short crest release. So yes, the auto release is a wonderful thing, but the result from someone not ready can be a horse that gets hit in the mouth/back.
well said guys! i use a combination of the modified crest, a crest, and an automatic depending on the situation and my ride. occasionally if i feel my horse needs a big release, i'll do the crest release. other times, especially if we're heading into a rollback or a bending line, i'll use the automatic release.
when done properly, they all have their purposes, although it's widely argued that the crest release is largely overused in the US, and there's a lack of teaching the automatic release these days.
Another great post Allison, thank you! :-) And thank you everyone else for your responses, too.
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