Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST
For the last few years, Michael Jung (The Terminator) and fischerRocana FST (Roxie) have come over from Germany and given us free riding lessons. By the time they jumped up onto the Normandy Bank at Fence 21ABCD this year, they had already won this event three times—in a row—and were the favorites to win it a fourth. You can see what an effort it takes from both horse and rider to jump a big bank with a big ditch in front of it. Michael has driven his heels down and slightly back in order to stay with Roxie. His reins are a bit too long for my taste, but he consistently rides her on a long rein and so far it has worked out pretty well for him.
The bounce from the edge of the bank to the log is long, which means horse and rider need to be aggressive. It takes a special kind of horse to be aggressive at a jump when she is not able to see the landing on the other side. Michael knows this and he is landing in a driving position. One of the many lessons Michael is giving here is that when he moves slightly behind Roxie, he does not pull back on the reins to keep his balance.
Roxie completely trusts her rider. She would jump off the south edge of the Grand Canyon if Michael asked, so a simple bounce into a big drop is catnip for her. At the same time, you can see from his eyes that Michael is already planning his turn to the next element. His extraordinary balance over his horse starts with the rock-solid security of his lower leg. When going cross country, Michael rides shorter than most American riders. Note that he has just over a 90-degree angle behind his knee in the air. The correct length for show-jumping stirrups is a 90-degree angle behind the rider’s knee when seated.