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.


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