“What you do in jumping sessions at home will set you up whether you’re planning to go cross-country or entering a showjumping competition. And if you have solid foundations in place, the chance of making a mistake is much less,” Mary explained.
“A good jumping position is all-important, and it’s slightly different for showjumping and cross-country. Take the time to practise both. For showjumping, sit lightly in the saddle with your pelvis positioned slightly forward, so that your shoulders and upper body stay upright as you travel from fence to fence. Keep your hands soft to let your horse use his neck and body freely over the fence – don’t restrict him with a tight rein. For cross-country, assume a lighter seat, with your bottom out of the saddle and your weight balanced evenly through your legs, and remember to keep your heels down. Avoid positioning your upper body too far forward because this will make you in front of the movement, which could result in a fall if your horse stops suddenly or falters on landing.”
To explain how to get the right amount of energy from your horse’s canter when approaching a jump, Mary shared some wisdom she was given by Captain Mark Phillips. “He likened it to bouncing a ball. If you want the ball to go higher, you don’t bounce it faster or slower, you bounce it with extra power so that it comes off the ground more. The canter is the same – if you want more impulsion in canter, sit up and condense the energy into a bouncy stride.”