Jumping Clinic With George Morris
Four solid crest releases
1I like this rider and she has a good position, but my first impression is that she is loose. To fix that, I suggest that she shorten her leather one hole because the angle behind her knee is too open and I sense that she’s reaching for the iron, which can destabilize the leg. Then she needs to work without stirrups a few times a week or have a qualified person longe her without stirrups. I’d also like to see her twist her iron so the outside branch leads the inside, which will make her leg more solid and improve its aesthetics.
The rider’s seat is out of the saddle just enough and her back is flat—she has beautiful upper-body control. This is an excellent example of a short release, where there is a broken line from the rider’s elbow to the horse’s mouth, though her elbows are sticking out a bit much. In all riding, the optimal connection is a straight line from the elbow to the mouth. To achieve that here, this rider needs to lower her hands 3–6 inches and follow the contact with a soft feel.
This is a cute horse, more of a pony type. He’s not big or scopey, but he’s got a great expression—his ears are up and his eyes are alert and focused. He has a good front end with his knees up. He’s loose below the knees—I’d like to see his lower legs tighter—but his form is acceptable. He’s also a flat jumper.
The horse is very well groomed and the saddle pad, tack and horse and rider boots are clean. This looks like it is at a show, though, and I think the rider’s turnout is more appropriate for a schooling session.
2This is a strong, gutsy rider who needs more polish. The photo has a dark shadow so it’s hard to critique her lower leg, but it looks correct and she’s as tight as a tick. Her foot is at a right angle to the girth with her little toe touching the outside branch of the iron, which is leading. This helps her have a supple leg so she can get her heels down. Her toes are turned out and her calf is on her horse. I like that her stirrup leather is short because she needs the support of the iron over this imposing, solid fence.
Her seat has dropped back in the air too much at this point in the jump. This is a defensive position, which I understand when a horse is jumping this high over a fence. But a seat that is too deep encourages a roached back like this, which can also be weak. The rider is showing a long crest release, which is OK for this little horse who is making a big effort. She is making sure not to restrict him at all—he has unlimited freedom. Her hand position would be better if she lowered them 4–6 inches and followed his mouth in the air.
This horse is a very good jumper and looks like he tries his heart out. His symmetrical knees are pointing down, which isn’t great, but he’s so careful with them. Horses who try this much don’t have to have exemplary front ends.
The turnout is rough. The horse’s mane is long and the saddle pad isn’t attractive. The rider’s shirt is untucked and her hair is out.
George H. Morris is the former chef d’Žquipe 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.