Jump­ing Clinic With Ge­orge Mor­ris

Practical Horseman - - News -

Ac­cept­able, Not Ac­cept­able or Prefer­able


This is a great rider demon­strat­ing se­cu­rity and bal­ance, but who has a lit­tle home­work to ad­vance her re­lease to the next level of difficulty. The hinged stir­rup irons are ac­cept­able but not prefer­able. The joint that is sup­posed to bend, flex and ab­sorb shock is the an­kle joint, not the joint of the stir­rup iron. Nev­er­the­less, the rider’s heel is down, the iron is cross­ing the ball of the foot with the lit­tle toe touch­ing the out­side branch and there is con­tact in her calf. The an­gle be­hind her knee is 100 to 110 de­grees, in­di­cat­ing that she is rid­ing with the cor­rect stir­rup length.

Mov­ing up the rider’s body, this is where you want the seat—slightly out of the sad­dle. Her pos­ture is beau­ti­ful with a flat back and her eyes are look­ing up and ahead. She is demon­strat­ing a well-done long re­lease. It shows a bro­ken line above the mouth. A bro­ken line be­low the mouth is NOT ac­cept­able. A straight line from the el­bow to the horse’s mouth is prefer­able. To achieve this, the rider needs to lower her hands about 6 inches and main­tain a light con­nec­tion, fol­low­ing her horse’s head and neck. She is a solid rider who is per­fectly ca­pa­ble of prac­tic­ing this op­ti­mum con­tact.

This cute horse has a con­sci­en­tious ex­pres­sion with his eyes and ears. His knees are up and his fore­arm is par­al­lel to the ground. He’s giv­ing this low fence a foot to spare, show­ing me he’s very care­ful. He doesn’t jump with much bas­cule—from his poll to the dock of his tail he’s very flat, which may limit his scope over big fences.

They have a B-plus turnout. The horse’s mane could be pulled more and trained to lie flat. I don’t like jump­ing in run­down polo wraps—if they get wet, they could sag. The tack looks like it could be a bit cleaner and her boots could be pol­ished more. She could have asked a friend to wipe of the bot­tom of her boots—those are the de­tails that make an av­er­age turnout great.


I like this rider, who is demon­strat­ing an al­most text­book au­to­matic re­lease. She could im­prove by short­en­ing her stir­rup and keep­ing her seat a lit­tle closer to the sad­dle.

She is show­ing with the hinged stir­rup iron, which is a short­cut to good habit. This hinged iron is ac­cept­able but a solid, stain­less-steel stir­rup is prefer­able. I’d like this rider to twist her iron so the out­side branch leads the in­side. Also, her lit­tle toe needs to touch the out­side branch. These ad­just­ments al­low for a sup­pler lower leg. Her toes are out and her heels are flexed, but not enough. Short­en­ing the leathers one, maybe two, holes will help her drop the weight into her heel.

The rider’s seat is very good but just a lit­tle high out of the sad­dle. The horse’s thrust tosses your seat out of the sad­dle—you make no ef­fort to do that. Her pos­ture in im­pec­ca­ble and she ap­pears to be turn­ing to the right. There is a straight line from her el­bow to her horse’s mouth, and she has main­tained a con­nec­tion with her horse’s mouth—a rare re­lease to see to­day.

The horse has alert eyes and ears fo­cused ahead. He has a good front end with his knees up and sym­met­ri­cal. He’s not hol­low, but he’s also not round. I don’t like gag bits, but when they’re used I pre­fer to have a snaf­fle rein as the pri­mary con­nec­tion. If the gag has only a bot­tom curb rein, when you take it, the horse’s re­ac­tion is to hol­low his back. The curb rein is sup­posed to sup­ple­ment the snaf­fle rein.

The horse and rider are ac­cept­ably turned out. He’s been body clipped, trimmed and well groomed. Her boots have shine to them. I don’t care for the elas­tic breast­plate or the bling on the brow­band. I’d like his mane to be a lit­tle shorter and trained to lie on its side.


This is a nice rider with a flex­i­ble an­kle. Her heel is al­most too far down, though I hes­i­tate to say that be­cause that fault is bet­ter than not enough weight in the heel. Some judges might say she is brac­ing her heel and leg, and I would have to agree. To fix this, she needs to shorten her leather a hole or two be­cause there is not enough an­gle be­hind her knee. She needs to ad­just the iron so her lit­tle toe is touch­ing the out­side iron and move the iron for­ward on her foot so it’s closer to her toe. Then she needs to ride on the flat and jump with­out stir­rups, which will en­cour­age her to mod­ify the leg so it is not as braced.

Her seat is too far out of the sad­dle and she’s jump­ing ahead, but it’s not bad. It looks as if they ap­proached the fence with­out enough im­pul­sion so the rider threw her up­per body for­ward a bit to cre­ate some. In­stead, as she ap­proaches the jump, she needs to close her leg and pos­si­bly cluck and use spur. Her back is beau­ti­ful—nat­u­ral and soft—and her eyes are look­ing up and ahead. She’s show­ing a cor­rect long re­lease where her hands are well placed and press­ing on the horse’s crest. The long crest re­lease gives the horse am­ple free­dom of head and neck. This re­lease is ac­cept­able and prefer­able up through Novice eq­ui­tation. It’s also ac­cept­able in any hunter com­pe­ti­tion.

This small horse has a great ex­pres­sion with a kind eye and beau­ti­ful ear, but as an ath­lete, I don’t care for him. He is twist­ing his front legs to the left and his right knee is lower than the left, al­most hang­ing, over this oxer, which of­fers the best chance to demon­strate a good front end.

This pair’s turnout is well done. The horse looks well groomed and trimmed. The flat tack looks clean and tra­di­tional. The sad­dle pad fits nicely. She is con­ser­va­tively dressed and her boots shine.


Im­prov­ing leg con­trol is this rider’s as­sign­ment, which also would help to keep her from jump­ing ahead. The stir­rup iron is not well placed be­cause the out­side branch needs to be twisted so it is ahead of the in­side. The ad­just­ment would help her have a sup­pler leg, which would drive her heel down and help with her loose leg. The leg may also have slipped back be­cause she is squeez­ing with her knee, caus­ing it to act as a pivot, send­ing the lower leg back and up­per body for­ward.

She needs to work on the flat in two-point and then over cross­rails, prac­tic­ing an even con­tact through her thigh, knee and calf. When she ap­proaches the fence, she needs to use her lower leg to keep the horse go­ing for­ward and not be tempted to pro­duce im­pul­sion by lean­ing ahead with her seat and up­per body. Her pos­ture is fine and her eyes are up and ahead. She is demon­strat­ing the long crest re­lease, a good and prefer­able tech­nique at this stage of her train­ing. Her hands are rest­ing on the horse’s crest, sup­port­ing her up­per body.

The horse, who has a lit­tle bit of a tired, dull ex­pres­sion, has a very poor front end over what looks like a ramp oxer, which should en­cour­age a horse to jump his best. His right knee is lower than his left and he is loose be­low his knees. I would be wor­ried that he would hang that right leg over a large ver­ti­cal. This is un­for­tu­nate be­cause he is us­ing his head and neck well and has a rounder bas­cule than we of­ten see.

Horse-and-rider turnout gets an A. The horse is beau­ti­fully groomed—his coat is just bloom­ing—and the flat tack is con­ser­va­tive and fits well. He is braided, and the sad­dle pad is very white. The rider is beau­ti­fully and con­ser­va­tively dressed with pol­ished boots. All of it al­lows the beauty of the horse to take cen­ter stage.

Ge­orge H. Mor­ris is the for­mer chef d’équipe of the U.S. Eques­trian Fed­er­a­tion Show Jump­ing Team. He serves on the USEF Na­tional Jumper Com­mit­tee and Plan­ning Com­mit­tee, is an ad­viser to the USEF HighPer­for­mance Show Jump­ing Com­mit­tee and is pres­i­dent of the Show Jump­ing Hall of Fame.

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