Photo Submission - Description from rider - In this picture, my horse, a 13 year old off the track thoroughbred, and I are schooling a fairly difficult grid for him. It was 3 trot poles to 3 bounce x-rails to a one stride 2'6" vertical to a two stride 3' vertical to a three stride 3'6" oxer. All strides were set a little short for him to encourage him to get a little deep and have to round a bit over the fences. He is very much a long and flat kind of jumper. The eventual goal was to compete at USPC Show Jumping Championships. The picture was taken in March while it was still a bit cold here so please excuse the extremely informal attire on my part and Jazz's slightly less than gleaming winter coat. katieandjazz.blogspot.com
is it okay to post the picture with your description (below) along with the critique on the blog? I just wanted to be sure about that before I posted. Thanx~!
Most definitely! Feel free to edit it or whatever if you think it would read better/be easier to understand.
I added the email dialogue so everyone would know I have permission from the rider to post the picture and her description of the work being done in the photo.
So that said, attire is not an issue, nor turnout of the horse. I was very happy to see an auto release. This type of release just isn't being taught these days and it is so much more efficient especially when working through some tough gymnastics. I'm so tired of seeing upper level hunters and riders using half crest and even full crest releases. So I commend the rider for having such a nice hand and auto release. Following well as you can see the straight line from the bit to the elbow. Her rein is merely an extension of her arm. I can see a little slack in the rein. Just a slightly shorter rein and you could have brought your arm a little more forward and not test your center of gravity to the nth degree. As with any release, you need to keep those thumbs up. Although your hand is showing towards an angle downward, it is not enough to keep your elbows in, which is why when you look at the photo, the elbow draws your eye to it. Ideally your hand should be parallel to the horses shoulder angle as seen from the saddle. When you are mounted, turning your thumbs up is fine for full & half crest release riders but the most efficient for auto release is to keep the hands apart the width of the neck and look down at your horses' shoulder. Position the hand with thumbs turning up and carry your hand parallel to the downward angle of the shoulder. It is so efficient and nice to see this technique in hunters or jumpers. By using the auto release you simply keep your hand following the motion of the horse and your horse is able to stay easily between your hands. Can you tell I really am partial to old school and the auto release? Well, it's not really old school. It's still the release that should be taught but I believe that as competition has evolved into something geared more towards a 'get it done now' attitude, it just isn't taught. You should be able to watch any national level medal rider come out and use the auto release on course and now time just isn't taken to do that. SO, I commend your use of the auto release, just shorten up a little on the rein so as to keep contact at all times over the fence. Get your hand parallel to the neck with thumbs on the up side.
Nice leg, right at the girth. You're neither falling behind or forward of the motion. The only tiny nitpick here which if it wasn't a still shot, I probably wouldn't notice is that it seems your iron is slightly forward of the ball of your foot. Not a huge problem but it has kept your upper body very conservative within the hip angle. For this kind of gymnastic work, you need the utmost of security and I would like to see you close that hip angle a bit more but I think I am seeing the correllation with the center of gravity due to the iron being set a tad forward.
Shoulders back and open..... I love it! A keen eye with chin up.....I love it! Freeing up your horses' back to work and show such a nice bascule off the departure is really nice.
Now I didn't see the approach but with regards to your horse not being square behind on departure.....and this is purely speculation... but it could stem from not having held medium contact in the rein to the fence. If you were not able to sit a stride into the base of departure in order to keep contact through legs, seat and hands, your horse can lose a tad of balance compensating, and come off with a less than square departure. Remember to ride the back end of the horse. Get used to knowing where the hind legs are in reference to your stride and departure.
Now I know some of this seems intricate, but being a picture of perfection means being an efficient, handy rider able to use small subtle aids to optimize their mounts best attributes. Sometimes I see trainers and parents only worried about the presentation if it's a hunter judged class. If it's equitation, they don't always understand that unless you are using yourself AND your horse to max efficiency, you are not the best eq rider.
That's why you'll see at upper levels of equitation, horses that are specialized as equitation horses. Just as stock horses are specialized for halter, pleasure, trail and what not, so are hunters. Not all good show hunters are good equitation horses and not all equitation horses are good show hunters. Jumpers is a whole different 'animal' and rarely is a horse good in the jumper ring and good in the hunter ring although a handy jumper can make a very nice equitation horse.
If you see everything in my critique seems directly related to what is going on in the picture, then you are ready to start adding the small details to finesse your equitation, thereby bringing out the best in your horse. If you don't, please feel free to ask for clarification.
Overall, this appears to be a nicely paired horse and rider working well within their abilities. If the rider tightens up their equitation a bit, the horse may also be tighter and more confident in the legs, giving a picture of more symmetry.
I'd also like to ask that no ill comments be left or I will have to moderate them. I was worried about doing individual critiques, but if we all play by the rules and understand this is for positive constructive opinion, use tact and diplomacy, it should be just fine.
Thanx for your submission and I hope my critique will help you. I mean not to offend you in any way and if you've a need for me to clarify anything I've said, feel free to ask.