Photo # 17: This is Emily! (Current freebie!)


Hi Emily!

I typically begin my critiques with the riders leg position, as that is the rider's base of support. All other aspects of the rider's position are dependent on the strength of the rider's lower leg position. So the first thing that stands out to me here is your excessive knee grip, which has allowed your lower leg to fall back behind you.

Since your base of support is at your knee (which is above the widest part of the horse) rather than your heels (which are obviously much lower), you are more precariously perched on your horse. If your leg contact was distributed more evenly, and your weight was solidly down into your heels, you would be much more anchored.

You have done well to maintain a good upper body position here. It's a little hard to tell from this angle, but it appears that your seat is over the center of the saddle, as it should be. Your back is flat, and your eyes are up. Your center of gravity is in the right place, now we just need to push your heels down and forward, so that your stirrup is in line with your center of gravity!

I would shorten your stirrups a hole, or even two, and practice approaching some jumps or grids in your two point. Really focus on keeping your weight down into your heels, and your lower legs by the girth.

It would also be a good exercise for you to put your gloves or some similar object underneath your lower legs, and do some jumps or grids while "holding" the gloves. This will help you to focus on relaxing your knee, and keeping your lower leg up by the girth.

Your hands are doing something interesting......they are in the position I call "bear claw", where your hands turn inward and face each other. I see this hand position often on the flat, but haven't seen it done too often over fences. I'm willing to bet that you rode to the jump in "bear claw" position. Try to maintain a hand position where if you would extend your fingers, they would point towards the horse's mouth. We've all heard about the "straight line from elbow to bit". Well, make sure your hand itself stays on that line as well. Also try to push your hands a bit more ahead of your shoulders. Even though your reins are loose here, you don't want to be in the habit of leaning over your hands when you jump. When your horse bascules more over the jumps, you may restrict him.

This horse is very cute! He looks handy, catlike, and naturally balanced. He looks to have gotten to a nice deep distance here, and is quick and clever with his front end. He is jumping a bit flat here, but I bet he would use his body more over a bigger jump. If he typically jumps flat, I would do some of the gridwork and exercises that I have mentioned in Anna's critique, like bounces, combinations of low wide oxers with a rail placed diagonally across the top of them, and the /\ pole exercise. 

Good luck Emily! Let me know if you have any questions.

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