For the quick version, you can watch our videos here and here (or just hop over to the 'Keeping up with Cuna' page).
For the long version... wow. I've certainly never ridden a perfect jump and Jimmy Wofford would argue that it's never been done. That said, I've been around jumping and the works of J Wo and Georgie (as some eventers call him) to know what a good jump looks like. I haven't ridden many of them, mostly because my giant horse is only now getting to the point where he actually jumps with me... so there's that.
Anyways. I now have on video, one jump that I quite approve of. The first two jumps in the series (second vid) are not awesome, but we saved it. :)
So let's have a look!
|Jump looks really big from this angle|
Approach! We just landed from a one stride on a trot-in grid. We hopped the crossrail, cantered the 3' vertical, and are aimed for the center of a 3'3" oxer.
My hands are on Cuna's neck, giving him freedom. My leg is under me, my heels are down., my eyes are up. Cuna is getting ready to launch.
|Butt muscles, engage!|
As Cuna brings his hind legs up under himself and pushes off, I've let the reins loop, but my hands haven't moved. My foot is more home in the stirrup than is necessary for arena jumping, but my leg is under me.
If you removed Cuna from this picture, I'd be landing on my feet. That means that I'm in balance over my horse and not hampering him at all. :D
My eyes and his ears are all business.
|<3 this horse|
You can see Cuna's balance in the symmetry of his hind legs--they are evenly weighted. His knees are up and tidy, which is why he's such a safe jumper.
My leg is under me, my heels are down, my hands are quiet, and my seat remains out of the saddle, following his motion. Steph has been really emphasizing getting out of the saddle and allowing the horse to jump up to me, which encourages a round jump, instead of me sitting tight and scooting with my seat, which encourages nothing good.
Doesn't his tail look great?
I'm a careful XC rider, and it's showing--I've already opened my upper body and started to sit down on Cuna to get behind the motion. This is excellent technique for uneven terrain and solid jumps, as it keeps me in the center no matter what.
For show jumping, I'd like to keep my body angle more closed and my seat out of the saddle longer, which allows him to finish his jump and be more round through his back, which allows him to be more careful with his hind end. As it stands, this is improvement for me, but I'd like to be sharper and more polished.
Finish! As we canter away from the jump, we're both prepared for what ever is happening next. He's pushing off with his hind end and we're in a great balance. My leg/heels/hands have mostly stayed the same.
It's not perfect, but it's as close as I've been in a while. Other thoughts? I know not all of you are jumpers, but I'd bet you're all striving for perfection of some kind. How do you feel when you get soclose to making it?