Competitive jumping rounds and plans to move up the levels are all well and good – but if you struggle with a swinging, unstable lower leg, staying in balance might be your biggest goal right now. Our experts help you find security in the saddle
A textbook position isn’t just about looking great in show-day photos. The fundamentals of a correct position are all closely related to the mechanics of your body and the shape of your horse’s jump. A balanced position, which has a centre of gravity over a secure, shock-absorbing lower leg, will be able to follow your horse’s movement easily, while a swinging lower leg will set off a domino effect that makes it twice as hard to stay with his jump.
If you plan to do any kind of cross-country riding the stakes are even higher, because staying secure and balanced on your horse as you tackle solid fences is a matter of safety. Fortunately, a great position is something that’s made with practice and patience – and as our experts point out, you can commit just a few minutes a day to fixing it.
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No matter what you’re doing with your horse in any given session, you should take a few minutes to work in all three gaits in a two-point position, which is the position you adopt when galloping. Working in this position helps you to flex your weight down through your ankles and heels, building strength and shock-absorption, while your upper body will learn where it needs to be positioned for the best possible balance. Even if you just fit in five minutes a day as part of your warm-up, in the middle of a schooling session or while out hacking, you’ll quickly build the basis for a great position.
Working over lines of low fences in this position is also a great way to work on muscle memory. While riding a course of jumps requires you to use a few different kinds of seat – from a deep, pushing seat to a lighter, less influential one – a simple line tends to give your horse all the information he needs to make a success of it, so you can just focus on your own position.
Set up three low jumps, each with one stride (7m) between them, and establish your two-point position once you’ve created a good jumping canter. Keep your eyes up, ride the line you’ve chosen – which should take you right down the centre of the poles – and stay balanced over your horse as he jumps through the exercise. If you find he tends to rush, you can make use of placing poles between each fence and one roughly 2.5m in front of the first. These will help to establish a steady rhythm, minimising the temptation to interfere.
For more tips on creating a secure position, grab your copy of December Horse&Rider, out now!