The Jumping Approach

Here's what you need to do to try your first jump:

Aids to Approaching a Jump

1.  Travel at the canter in half seat.

2.  Collect your horse.

3.  Position your heels lower than your toes.

4.  Look up at where you're going.

5.  Arch your back slightly.

6.  Hold onto the mane with the thumb and forefinger of one or both hands while keeping the reins
short enough to steer.

7.  Position your hands two-thirds of the way up the horse's neck, underneath your forehead.

At the canter, your heels drop down with each successive stride.  You'll feel a definite lock between
your upper calves and the horse.  If you don't feel this, turn your toes slightly out to make sure you
keep your legs on the horse.  Keep your feet directly under your center of gravity.

Stay Straight
You must aim Magic straight for the center of the jump.  Don't approach it from an angle.  When you
jump from an angle, you make the jump twice as wide.  The bigger the jump, the harder it can be to
stay mounted.
Straight also means the horse should not bend, either to the left or the right.  Look straight ahead.  
You should see neither of the horse's eyes as you approach.  The jump should be in front of you,
between Magic's ears.

Go Forward
The stride of a school horse is about 10 to 12 feet.  Beginning three strides before the jump, you
must go progressively faster, or forward, toward the jump.  In other words, each of Magic's last three
strides before the jump must have more impulsion.
You must crescendo into the jump.  Never slow down into a jump.  If you do, Magic will have to work
harder to jump the jump.  Instead of having forward momentum helping him jump in a graceful arc,
he'll have to jump less smoothly and with greater effort, which may make it harder for you to stay on.  
The worst-case scenario is when a horse approaches a jump, stops completely, and then jumps.

The Jumping Secret

The first, most basic rule is that you must go forward
over the jump.

To make jumping feel safer, newer riders tend to slow down
their horses as they approach the jump.  But that's one of
the worst things you can do.  The horse has to use more
effort to get over the jump, or he might stop completely
before jumping.  Both ways makes it harder for you to stay on,
so go forward. Onward and upward!
A compact, almost black, attractive little pony, Magic was gelded late in life and still thinks he's a
stallion.  He just loves the girls.  He neighs hard and prances around his stall anytime a mare walks
by, and he'll try to get amorous if he's turned out to pasture with a mare.  He'll also try to fight with
horses three times his size.  He's so aggressive around other horses, in fact, that he has to be
turned out alone.
For riders, Magic provides a lively mount.  He's fast, agile, and a fantastic jumper despite his size,
which is why I've assigned him to you for this lesson.
Since you're riding Magic, I'm going to tell you the truth about ponies.  Yes, they're certainly cute,
and some people consider them smarter than horses.  Contrary to popular belief, however, being
small does not make them nicer.  In fact, many of them can be difficult to handle.
You've already read that Magic acts up around other horses in the field, which means you should
keep him away from other horses when you're riding.  If he can get into a scrap, he will.  Apart from
that, you'll find him well behaved, and he'll give you a great ride.
A Note to Your Instructor

You might be wondering why I want the student holding onto he mane.  Because this is a small jump,
the horse won't extend very far over the jump; there's no crest release necessary.  
Crest release will come into play once the horse starts basculing, or arcing over the top of the jump.  
Holding onto the mane helps keep beginners a bit more secure until they get used to jumping.
Woodland Horse Center
16301 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20905
301-421-9156          fax: 301-421-9049