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Jumping Over The Fence With Style

Jan 4, 2008
Photography can be a fascinating business, and although the majority of people profess to dislike being taken, it is remarkable how interested they become when their own picture is in evidence. Over the fence is the moment usually chosen for Show Jumping photographs, mainly no doubt because it is the most spectacular, but also because it is the moment when the horse and rider are apt to look their best.

When analyzing such photographs, the horse's attitude in general, and the use he is making of his limbs in particular, will frequently show whether the rider is assisting or hindering him, and in what way. Different theories have been put forward regarding the ideal position for the rider, but surely this must be resolved by two things - assistance and control. To assist his horse to clear the fence, the rider must distribute his weight, and use his fingers and hands to keep an even feeling, so that balance is not disturbed.

To retain control, which he must have in the very near future upon landing, he must be looking along his chosen route, his hands must be positioned for independent action, his lower leg must be ready to give any indication required, and his seat must be far enough out of the saddle to obviate any possibility of cramping the loin muscles, but not so far that there is a danger of pivoting on the stirrup-iron, which will at once act on the hands.

Moreover, he should be relaxed and supple, for any muscular rigidity will not only communicate itself to the horse but also impede split-second action.

The "over-the-fence" phase is the one during which peculiarities in the rider's position are most noticeable, and, in consequence, criticisms are usually leveled at him at this phase, to the exclusion of the others. Although profoundly important, it is only a part of the whole performance, and it would be a great mistake to judge a rider's quality solely on his position "in the air."

When everything goes according to plan, there is an excellent balance and poise. The rider is in complete harmony, and on the alert for any eventuality. The attitude adopted is all that could be desired, combining assistance to the horse, and sympathetic control over him. The positioning of the rider's hand and leg, the weight distribution, and forward outlook along the next approach, should all be under control. Exhibitions of this high quality will always draw the crowd and merit their approval, thus being of inestimable value to the future of Show Jumping.

The horse should be enjoying himself, and showing approval of the arrangements made during the approach and take-off. His forelegs
should be well folded, and be beginning the forward and downward movement of head and neck. The rider's attitude is precise and rhythmical. He is riding with a short rein to keep an even feeling, to ensure that the horse knows where his hand is, and to maintain complete control during the next phases of the jump. His attention should be centered on the next fence. Such preparation will ensure an excellent jump, taken with ease and fluency.

This spectacular part of show jumping should be enjoyed by rider and horse alike.
About the Author
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