Friday, November 30, 2012

Anatomy of a Jump

I promised myself I would back off of this crazy post overdrive, but I had a jumping lesson today and for maybe the first time in my life, I'm quite pleased with how I rode over a giant oxer. Omg! Blogging time.

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! 
And we're off!

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
Stretching! Cuna is pushing off his hind legs, sending his energy up and forward. My hands are still in the same place and my butt is out of the saddle, but my leg is still under me. My back is flat and my crest release looks good. :)

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.

Flight! Cuna's hind legs have lifted off and I must say, we look great. :) His front end is square and he has room to spare, but he's not over jumping and wasting energy.

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.

Descent! We have hit the midpoint of the jump and are just starting to head down. My hands are still, my leg is steady, my eyes are up, and my seat is still out of the saddle. I ride in an XC saddle (it's what fits), so my butt is running into the cantle here, but I'm up off Cuna's back.

Doesn't his tail look great?

Tail cascade
Landing! Cuna has touched down with one front leg. My eyes are still up and we're both moving on to the next thing, but I don't love my position here.

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?


  1. You and Cuna are the BOSS. :) Looks great to me! And uh, yes, that jumps looks gigantic.

  2. My idea of an ideal jump? Not having pee trickle down my leg upon landing. But I agree with Karen. That jump is enormous and you guys are like, whatevs. And I love, love the new layout.

    1. I second Carly's entire comment...right on down to the peeing part ;-)

      You and Cuna look like superstars! And my western-riding self loved the step-by-step photo explanation—cool!

  3. Frankly I have no idea what it feels like since I duck all the time and don't even realize it. I'm just happy that I stay off my horses face and off his back lol.

  4. oh HECK YES. You guys look BOMB! so awesome!

  5. YAY! Awesome - no other words needed! I<3 the red horses!

  6. 'How do you feel when you get so close to making it?'
    I'll let you know when it happens for me, LOL!!!

    You look amazing, as does Cuna!

  7. I am not a jumper... not even a little bit, but I enjoy watching others do it. I love how you broke it down in this post and I think you both look amazing. :)

  8. First off, that jump looks big to me no matter what angle. I struggle to maintain that feeling of harmony over 3' jumps, most of which is my fault, so major cudos to you guys!

  9. Ditto to everyone else's comments, you guys look fabulous :)! I also love the new layout, it's very sharp and clean! I actually thought I had clicked on the wrong blog when it first loaded because of the rather shocking color change!

  10. Um that oxer is huge!!! And you both look fabulous! I know what you mean about riding in a more XC style than is necessary for arena jumping - I'm working on fixing my overly defensive leg and seat, including working on staying up out of the saddle on the landing coughcough. That's what happens when you ride a stopper for a period of time though.

  11. Awesome post! You guys look fantastic!! I'm so glad you're having so much fun with Cuna. It was really cool to see a jump broken down like that too. :) I love the new blog layout too.


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