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The Art of Show Jumping

Mar 17, 2008
There is often a certain feeling of relief when a fence, particularly a difficult one, has been left safely behind. Such a feeling endangers concentration, and for a few very important strides the rider may forget his preconceived plan and a very momentous phase in the round may be indifferently ridden. In practice, the getaway after landing merges directly into the approach to the next fence, which follows the route chosen when the course was inspected on foot. The fundamental necessity, therefore, is maintenance of balance and impulsion, without which no fence can be adequately crossed.

The ideal is to land in a state of balance identical to that at the take-off, which will mean that the horse gets away in his stride and on the bit. A pause or dwell at this stage will result in loss of impulsion, which will have to be re-created, thereby disturbing the rhythm and fluency of the whole performance. If this occurs when the fence is a double or treble, the rider will, very obviously, at once be in difficulties, particularly if the distances between the jumps do not exactly suit his horse's normal stride

If the course builder has decided on a test of impulsion, the distance will be wide, and if of activity and obedience to hand and leg, short. Again it may be necessary to change direction very soon after landing, to render the line of approach to the next fence favorable. There is, indeed, a diversity of problems that may have to be solved and the answer to each one of them lies in obedience, balance, and impulsion.

It is very apparent, therefore, that the rider must be so placed that he is capable of taking complete control, and small details in his position can have far-reaching results upon his actions.

If his lower leg is in its natural position behind the girth, if his seat, having been in the saddle immediately upon landing, is just out of it to give freedom to the loins, if his hands are light and separated for independent maneuver, and if he is looking along his approach, the result should be smooth and workmanlike.

Finally, there can be no question but that acrobatic attitudes over the fence effectively undermine control during the first, and even the second, stride after landing, and it is true to say that unless the horse knows where the rider's hand is he will never trust it.

Obedience, balance, and impulsion are the ingredients. Blended together they produce the horse in his stride, and on the bit.

In the first stride of the getaway the ingredients should be nicely blended. There should always be certain impulsion, and the horse should be firmly on the bit, rider's seat giving the loins maximum freedom.

If the horse seems lacking in lightness and elasticity and to be dwelling a little it may be because of the position of the rider's lower leg, if the toe is down, making the creation of impulsion doubtful, and certainly not immediate. If there is time before the next fence, remedial action can often be taken.

This crucial aspect of show jumping should be thought about very carefully, and practised well.
About the Author
These Well-Kept Secrets On Show Jumping Will Have You Jumping 7 Foot Log Jumps In Just A Few Days

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