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Discussion Starter #1
I started this on the thread crest release vs automatic release but when I went to post it said the thread was too old and to start a new one, so here I am.
The crest release is the most popular use of the hands for jumping in hunter classes today but it's sort of usurped the position of the automatic release.

A quick description: crest release is when you lean your hands into the crest over fences. There is a short release and a long release. The purpose is to release all contact with your horse's mouth and keep him from getting his mouth punished over jumps. It was originally intended for beginners. The automatic release is when the hands follow the mouth over the jump maintaining contact and not leaning on the horse at all. There should be a straight line from the mouth to the hands to the elbows.

Some people believe George Morris was the innovator of the crest release but he wasn't. He only gave it a name. It was first taught by Littauer in the 30s. He used it as a quick way to get students jumping because he said they couldn't get fit and strong enough to jump without leaning on their horses. Then Gordon Wright (George Morris' teacher) continued the idea during the 50s and then G. Morris went on with it.

The crest release is intended for beginners. Before G. Morris began pushing it you wouldn't have considered going into a Medal or McClay class if you had to lean on the horse to jump. G.Morris actually teaches that you should support your upper body with your hands, making it part of the base of support. Even so, riders put more and more of their upper body weight into their hands, on their wrists, on their arms, to the point that they are laying on the horse. Then it becomes dangerous because it takes the weight out of your heel and leg where it should be and makes the rider vunerable if the horse stops or has a bad fence.

The crest release also encourages getting ahead when you jump. Getting ahead not only makes the rider unstable, it throws the rider's weight on the horse's forehand making it harder for him to jump.

But there are more problems. Too many use the release incorrectly and you see horses jumping in tight reins. The crest release is supposed to release contact with the horse's mouth. The crest release also creates horses who need stronger bits because they are either jumping in tight reins (bad crest release) or loose reins which means the rider loses a little control of the horse, so riders use stronger bits and more gadgets. The automatic release gives the rider smoother, lighter control.

And lastly, people are beginning to forget what an automatic release is and don't want to progress past the beginner crest release. People are jumping higher and higher with crest release and the horses are the ones paying the price for it.

If an eventer uses a crest release for anything except an emergency, they're inviting a serious accident at some point. I'd love to see everyone progress in their riding so they can use the automatic release naturally and save the crest release for when they have a sticky situation or a very unpredictable green horse they want to be sure not to hit in the mouth or back.

Keep up the good work. Explaining the releases and why you use them and like/dislike them helps everyone
 

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I think that the crest release only encourages some riders to jump ahead. The way my instructor teaches it, is that you 'push' yourself to the back of the saddle in a sense with your hands still supporting you to some extent. I'm sure that this will be misunderstood by the way I worded it, but I can't think of any other way to say it, haha. Right now I need the support that a crest release gives you, so I like it for that. But once you don't need that support anymore, I do think that you should progress to an automatic release while still having the crest release for times when you need it (what I mean by that is that you should still practice it every so often).
I don't really agree with the statement that George Morris encourages supporting yourself while jumping with the crest release. If you've ever seen the Jumping Clinic in Practical Horseman, he will say something if he believes that a rider should be using an automatic release over jumps.
 

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That's true, George Morris *now* bemoans the fact that it's become the standard; and in his Jumping Clinic, he's constantly talking about able riders lowering their hands and working towards an automatic release.

He is also the first to criticize a rider who uses the phony crest release, with hands floating above the neck in an exaggerated broken line.

However, Barbara is right about the history. George Morris is responsible for popularizing and making it the standard for Hunter Seat Eq; a fact he now regrets.

She's also right that Littauer (a huge influence on my early riding and training that you don't hear much about any more) developed it as an intermediate step between grabbing mane three strides away from the base of the fence and developing a true automatic release.
 

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I was never taught to "lay on my hands" in a crest release, I was taught to simply change my hip angle and let my horse jump up to me and when I learned to ride obviously I learned a crest release but I do not "grab mane" or "lay on my hands". I was actually taught to jump a majority of the time without stirrups that way I could feel the horses motion.

In the maclay test this year they had to jump without stirrups. If all of these maclay riders are "laying on their hands" and "jump ahead" how do they successfully jump a 3'6" jump without stirrups?

There are plenty of riders who do not know how to use the automatic release and simply lay on their horses neck and throw their hands down. A crest release shouldn't hurt your horse unless you ride with too short of reins and snap back with your hands on the landing.

The crest release can be critisized all you would like, but when it is used correctly it shouldn't be hurting the horse or inflicting with the horses movement. Likewise - the automatic release isn't god gift to this earth. It is also used incorrectly, riders are getting sloppy and just laying on the horses neck and dropping their hands.

Then again, I am also a firm believer in George Morris. Im am anti-christ Hunter/Jumper/Equitation rider, oh no!
 

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The Crest release is farly overdone in North America. So much, that yes, George Morris admits the regret of introducing it to the riders in North America.

The Crest release also promotes perching, posing and has become a major crutch to many riders today.

I dislike the release - and I think it should be weeded out of lessons, and the show ring.
 

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Let me also clarify - I school 3' - 3'3" and I know how to properly use an automatic release. I can't say that I use it 100% of the time though as I have just begun to embark on the long road of being a successful automatic releaser and am sometimes afraid that I may drop my hands too much or if I get a bad distance, I am more worrying about collecting my horse and sitting up rather than hand placement and due to learning to jump with a crest release, its my natural posture in that situation.
 

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I have mixed feelings about the crest release. I do feel it has become quite a crutch in todays jumpers. I do use it, on occasion, on XC, When jumps are taken at speed.



But, when things are more predictable, as in show jumping/jumpers, I always try to use an automatic release



Crest releases often do NOT allow the rider to give the reins enough to move with the horse, due to the hands being "planted" on the crest. As such, I really don't like it, on most occasions.
 

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The crest release can be critisized all you would like, but when it is used correctly it shouldn't be hurting the horse or inflicting with the horses movement. Likewise - the automatic release isn't god gift to this earth.

Then again, I am also a firm believer in George Morris. Im am anti-christ Hunter/Jumper/Equitation rider, oh no!
The problem with the crest release, is that most riders using it put their hands on top of the crest. This makes the hands immobile. The horse, when it jumps, stretches its neck out to make the bascule.When this happens, the riders, with their "planted" hands, are unable to give the reins to the horse. It creates a "snatch".
 

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Allison, you are a rider who uses the crest, as george morris intended for it to be used.

You must beable to learn how to use both seats, if you watch exceptional riders like Beezie Madden ride, she can swap between both seats to accomodate that particular fence that she is approaching.

Same with releases. The Crest is useable when you come to a fence that compromises your position, so that you can stay out of your horses way so that he can get his job done.

The Automatic is the oldest of releases, has been done in Europe since English came about - I believe, that the Automatic should be the one we commonly see today, as George Morris even states in his critique columns. It is unfortunate that the Crest is overly done and a crutch of North American Riders today - I dislike this release very much.

Don't get me wrong, it has its' place, but unfortunately, majority of riders in North America, can't surpass its use.
 

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That's true, George Morris *now* bemoans the fact that it's become the standard; and in his Jumping Clinic, he's constantly talking about able riders lowering their hands and working towards an automatic release.

He is also the first to criticize a rider who uses the phony crest release, with hands floating above the neck in an exaggerated broken line.

However, Barbara is right about the history. George Morris is responsible for popularizing and making it the standard for Hunter Seat Eq; a fact he now regrets.

She's also right that Littauer (a huge influence on my early riding and training that you don't hear much about any more) developed it as an intermediate step between grabbing mane three strides away from the base of the fence and developing a true automatic release.
See? You learn something new every day :). In response to MIEventer about how it should be weeded out of lessons and the show ring, though, I do think the crest release has its place, but it IS definitely overused, I agree with that.
 

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ohsaree,

I agree with you that the crest release is not all bad and absolutely has its place, particularly when it's executed correctly. And I don't agree with the posters who blame it for a host of equitation ills -- misuse of it, or sole reliance on it to exclusion of anything else, yes.

No one equated it with grabbing the mane; I referenced Littaeur's progression of releases which is grabbing the mane, to crest release, to automatic release. Littaeur, Gordon Wright and Morris all also believed there was a progression within the crest release as well - the more beginnery short release to the closer to automatic and advanced long release.

As far as Medal/Maclay riders, to George and the OPs point, does anybody seriously believe that these riders *need* to crest release? That they need the support of the horse's neck? No, that's just silly. They use it because they can't get pinned if they don't, but I'm hoping that that will change in years to come.

Allison, that top photo is a great example of a *true* crest release. Your hands are low enough that they're actually resting/taking some support from the horse's neck; an excellent idea for a fence with some spread. I can't imagine anyone, included GM, would quibble with it.

Truthfully, in the second photo, you've dropped your hand down and forward, but are still taking a little support from the neck. Appropriate, and along the line of the *progression* that Littaeur, Wright and Morris originally envisioned.

In my avatar photo, I'm using a modified crest release. One of the reasons I like that photo is because of the release. Anybody think I'm perching, posing, jumping ahead or using too short reins?

The criticism is most oftern directed at the phony crest release that you see all over the hunter ring (sorry, ohsaree) - riders with hands 1/3 to 1/2 of the way up the neck, floating above the mane, taking no support from the neck, and with a wildly exaggerated broken line from bit to elbow. These are the riders that George wants to drop their hands down towards an automatic release since clearly they don't need support from the neck.
 

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Sure, GM bemoans the over usage of the crest release but looking through all of the "jumping clinics" he's written over the years, how many does he say, "you've lost your base of support", "your lower leg has slipped back", "go back to cross bars".... and how often does he say "you have a great position, now you're now ready to move on to the auto release?" The latter -while definitely mentioned- is far less common. Think back to all of the millions of "how's my jumping position?" posts in the critque section. How many have a stable enough leg or position to attempt an auto release without hitting their horse in the mouth or back? I'm not saying we have a forum of terrible riders. But I'd say as a general whole there are more people who need the crest release then those who don't. There are more riders out there doing the 2' whatever then the 3"6. (keep in mind GM generally doesn't work with beginners) Is the auto release more effective? Absolutely. Do advanced riders over use a crest instead of challenging themselves to do the auto? absolutely. But don't be hatin' the crest release! It serves a purpose and IMO necessary for those starting off. The problem is not the crest release. It's the fact that people don't move on from it.
 

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FWIW... the last GM clinic i went to he worked on perfecting the short crest release with his 3"6 class. he didn't start with the auto until he got to the 4' class.
 

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GM *also* bemoans beginnery or insecure riders who use the floating or phony crest release instead of taking appropriate support from the neck.

upnover - point taken. But how many people who've attended a GM clinic or are showing 3'6" or 4' in the As send photos to GM for Jumping Clinic? If you're strong enough to use an auto release, do you need to send your photo to George for permission?
 

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GM *also* bemoans beginnery or insecure riders who use the floating or phony crest release instead of taking appropriate support from the neck.

upnover - point taken. But how many people who've attended a GM clinic or are showing 3'6" or 4' in the As send photos to GM for Jumping Clinic? If you're strong enough to use an auto release, do you need to send your photo to George for permission?
Yes, he certainly does. But not that they're using the crest release, but because they're not doing it properly. It's not effective if you don't use it properly!

LOL. good point. By the time you're at that level you OUGHT to know whether or not your position is correct... (although wouldn't it be fun to send in a good picture and have him praise your position and tell you your horse is pretty and talented on a national magazine? just me? nevermind....:D)
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I don't really agree with the statement that George Morris encourages supporting yourself while jumping with the crest release. If you've ever seen the Jumping Clinic in Practical Horseman, he will say something if he believes that a rider should be using an automatic release over jumps.
Hi ANRZ
George Morris regularly tells readers that the purpose of the crest release is to support the rider's upper body. Here it is in his own words:

In his book "The American Jumping Style", (pg 87) he says about the long crest release "To perform this release correctly, the rider moves his hands halfway up the neck, rests his hands on top of the crest, and presses the weight of his upper body down into his hands. Like the long release with mane, this position gives the rider upper body support and helps his security while stabilizing his hands for the sake of the horse's mouth."

G.Morris also repeatedly states in Practical Horseman/Jumping Clinic that the purpose of the crest release is to support the upper body. Here are some examples:

July 2008- Rider #1- "Remember, the crest release is intended to provide support for the rider's upper body by allowing her to rest her weight into her horse's neck."

Sept 2009- Rider #1- "Her short crest release is well done, with her hand supporting the weight of her upper body by pressing into the sides of her horse's neck." Rider #3- "Her short crest release is well done and servesas a comparison between its purpose -providing upper body support - and that of the automatic release."

June 2009- Rider #1- "Her hand is floating above her horse's neck instead of pressing down into his crest to give her upper body support, which is the whole point of using a crest release."

May 2009-Rider #1- "The weight of her upper body should press down through her hands into her horse's neck to give her support."
 

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Discussion Starter #18
ohsaree,
As far as Medal/Maclay riders, to George and the OPs point, does anybody seriously believe that these riders *need* to crest release? That they need the support of the horse's neck? No, that's just silly. They use it because they can't get pinned if they don't, but I'm hoping that that will change in years to come.
Maura this is a really good point. And it's also the reason that the crest release became so popular - if you didn't use it you didn't pin- even if you didn't need it. That changed the whole face of showing hunters and equitation beginning with the 70s and continuing through the present . I think we're going to see it begin to change, little by little.

I don't want any of you to think I'm against using the crest release for it's intended purpose. It's a good way to start jumping. It's when it's used incorrectly that problems develop. In order to do the automatic release (some people call it jumping out of hand) a rider has to have an awesome base of support, all the way down to the foot, and a strong set of core muscles. But with those two things a rider can do almost anything they want, including choosing which release they want to use for each fence. So maybe the real issue is developing a great base of support.
 

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I'd say I use something between a crest release and an auto. My hands generally keep moving over the whole motion of jumping but they do press into the neck.

I don't think the crest release should be done away with. I'd rather see a beginner jumper press their hands into the horse's neck over the jump than tear up its mouth. True, riders should be able to support themselves over the jump enough for an auto, but the fact of the matter is that many riders can't, and in that case I'd rather see a crest release.
 

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Great posts Barbara - and very true.

I continulously hear George Morris state time and time again that the Crest Release was brought about, to aid riders who cannot support their upper bodies through their lower - nothing more, nothing less. The problem is, riders who can clearly support their upper bodies through their lower, are still doing this release. Whenever there is a rider who sends a shot into practicle horseman for GM to critique, and whenever that rider clearly can support themselves, GM will make it a point of bringing it up.

Also, whenever there is a rider doing an Automatic Release, who clearly can be doing the release, he will praise greatly.

But unfortunately, it has become "The must" do release in North America, and just as stated - pretty wins. Coaches are teaching it over and over and over again, and the trend continues.

That is why we see Perchers in the Hunter Jumper world as well, because once again, pretty wins.

And I have heard George Morris stress, that he would NOT PIN the perchers, and unfortunately, the Hunter Jumper show ring of today, is packed with them, because - pretty wins.

Proper Form = Function.
 
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