Above is the training scale for dressage. I refer to this scale almost daily in my riding. Even though I do not ride "dressage" I do believe the basics and foundation of dressage is important in all aspect of riding. The only thing really that we tweak in hunt seat is collection. We do not ask our horses for as much collection obvoulsly as dressage does. But we do need supplenes to have the horse work through. Impulsion is key and rhythm is a huge factor when jumping and for solid ground work. Our horses do not need to work off the hind so much and our gaits are a little more forward and ground covering, but the theory and ideas are all teh same. Just some info to chew on while you read on in my post.
Had a wonderful ride on Possum last night. I got there a little late cause I had counseling. As I pulled up the driveway I called to Possum and he started making his way to the gate. As I was letting the dogs out of the car he nickered to me. My hear melted. I let him out to graze for a few minutes while I got my stuff out and came and got him with a halter. He was filthy again! He had crusted dirt all over him. I swear he finds the muddiest part of the paddock and takes a nap in it. So after about 20 minutes of currying and brushing I tacked him up and we went in the outdoor for some fun.
He warmed up really well and was listening great. He was a little stiff on his usual side, the left but we worked on some suppling exercises and he was compliant. At the same time I was working on my position. Head up, shoulders back, tight calf and thigh with a lowered heel, it was all coming together well. After a good flat I decided to just trot some jumps to get him warmed up since it had been quite a while since we have had a serious ride. With a horse who is naturally heavy on the forehand trotting fences is really good for him, but if we trot into a line he usually would prefer to canter the next fence so he can keep the momentun, instead of sitting back on his hocks, making the reansition to the trot and then jumping the next fence in balance. This took a couple times of stopping him and quietly backing him up a few steps until he gave in and decided that it would be easier to just use his body then have to keep being reprimanded. Once he got it down a few times I let him have a break.
After that there was a gymnastic line of bounces set up, 5 fences in all. They were only about 2ft high each. For those of you who don't know what bounces are it's just as it sounds. Once the horse lands after the first jumps he is immediately getting ready to jump the second. The back feet are on the ground and the front feet are jumping the next fence. We did this 5 jumps in a row. Which is also really good for a horse who is heavy on the front because it makes them have to sit up and prepare immediately for the next one and stay on stride and rhythm. Possum aced it with flying colors, he really likes bounces anyways, he thinks their challenging. Plus it was good for me to work on my position. After a few times, I knotted my reins and went over them with my hands out like an airplane to strengthen my legs, open my chest and shoulders and improve my balance. I suprised myself at how well I did. It was comfortable, correct and I even was able to asking for a flying change with no hands after the line with my inside leg to balance him and keep him from leaning in and outside leg back and a spur to ask for the change. I was really happy with how he did. He seemed pretty pleased too. Wish I had some pictures cause it was really cool to ride. I think maybe next time we ride we might jump height and width to work on him really using his back and getting a proper bascule in the air. Tightening up his knees and really reaching forward. At the same time I'll work on my automatic release which is something I am trying to perfect. Having an independent hand and seat and following the horses mouth and not using the neck as a traditional crest release. I always seem to do better over bigger fences because the jumps movement naturally fold me at the hips and he reaches more forward then he would a little jump and I am able to drop my hand slightly alongside the mouth so there is straight line from bit to hand.
Below is a pic of a good executed automatic release. Although notice the weak leg that has swung back. If this guy has spurs he is probably spurring the horse by the saddle pad. A weak leg like this could cause the rider to be catapulted over the horses head if he were to stumble or stop short. And personally if I had a leg like that I would be wearing a helmet in case of a fly over. I'm thinking that maybe on Monday when I come back form my little vacation I will hold a little jumping clinic, sort of like George Morris does in Practical Horseman. He is waaaaay more qualified than I am, but it's always good to sharpen the eye and know what correct should look like. I also will be a little less critical than he can be. SO if anyone want to send jumping pics to me, either their own or sones they find on the web to be critiques feel free. I think this should be fun and I'll find some time either this weekend or Monday to create a post.
Also to add this horse has incredible scope and is really using his body to reach up and over this fence. Tight and even knees are desireable. Beautiful animal over a very large fence!
My Email is firstname.lastname@example.org to send pics.