Do you love pony or horse jumping? I still remember the first time I tried. It was only a small log on the beach and my dad thought that after having ridden over fifty pony rides, I was ready to give it a trial.
I thought I was ready too. But my pony wasn't. She shied at the last moment and I came off onto the sand. Lucky dad was holding onto the lunge rope, so it didn't hurt, but the sand in my mouth was yuck.
I think the only thing that got hurt was my dad's ego, because my mum growled him. She said a two year old is too young to be trying to jump a horse.
So dad kept our pony and horse jumping trials secret after that. Which suited me just fine.
Remember, the jumping position is different from the basic riding position. The goal is to keep you as secure as possible as your pony flies over the jump. Here are some jumping tips you may find handy.
1. Shorten up your stirrups by a hole or two.
2. Shorten your reins.
3. Make sure you are wearing your body protector when horse jumping and do not jump while alone.
4. Keep your back flat.
5. Keep your chin up and look forwards between the pony's ears.
6. Bend forwards from the hip and slide your bottom backwards.
7. Check to see if your knees are resting against the saddle.
8. Push more weight into your heels. This will stop you shooting over the pony or horse's head, if it is refusing at a jump and stopping suddenly or swerving.
9. You may need to adjust your distances between poles or fences according to the size of your pony, the kind of fence you're jumping and the horse or pony's pace.
10. Walk around the school in the jumping position and when you feel ready, start trotting. Hold this position as you ride over one pole.
11. Now try three poles, 1.2-1.3 (4-4ft 6in) apart. As the pony stretches it's neck out over the poles, push your hands forward so that you don't hold him back.
Happy with your jumping position? OK, lets get ready to jump a small fence. There are five stages to the jump: approach, take-off, suspension, landing and getaway.
Once you and your pony or horse are confident jumping one fence, try two jumps roughly 4.6m (15 ft) apart. This measurement will vary depending on the size of your horse or pony and the type of fence.
Slowly build up a small course with different types of fence, such as the crosspole, the upright fence and the spread fence. Try to avoid making your pony or horse turn sharply on the approach and get-away.
Sit up straight and line up the pony or horse with the centre of the fence. Look beyond the fence as you approach it. Keep your legs against the pony's side.
As the pony's front feet leave the ground, bend at the hips and push your weight into your heels. Move your hands up towards the pony's ears.
Look straight ahead as you fly over the fence. This is called 'suspension', because all four feet are off the ground.
As your pony or horse's front feet touch the ground, sit up and look in the direction you want to go. Try not to thump into the saddle.
Sit up straight, bring your hands back to their normal position without pulling at the reins and turn the pony or horse in the direction you want to go.
The jumping style of early horse riders was very different compared to whats seen in the modern show jumping rings.
The riders of olden days, used long stirrups, adopted a backward seat and pulled on the reins as they jumped.
Apparently the idea was to motivate the horse to land on its hind, instead of its forelegs. It was believed at that time, a jump was more easier absorbed by the hind legs, which were flexible, opposed to the straight forelimbs.
It wasn't until Captain Federico Caprilli, an Italian calvary instructor, born in 1868, came to the realization that this style of jumping restricted the natural balance and rhythem of the horse, and of course made it more difficult for it to jump.
After carefully studying horses jumping freely, the captain came to the conclusion that they always land on the forelegs without hurting themselves.
Caprilli taught the rider to give more freedom to the horse when tackling a jump and to adopt a more forward seat while jumping and to use shorter stirrups.
Caprilli's methods revolutionalised jumping techniques and enabled the horse and rider to tackle more tougher obstacles.
More on Horse Jumping Breeds
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