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.
Taking Off
following way:

1.  His front feet strike the ground for the last time, and with a push of
his shoulders he raises the front of his body to the angle required by
the jump.

2.  His hind legs come underneath him farther than normal, causing his
back to round.

3.  He pushes off simultaneously with his hind feet, although one will be
farther ahead, or leading.

When Magic pushes off, you must be moving forward, too.  Staying still or
standing up is not what you want to do, because if you aren't connected to
Magic through your lower legs he'll literally jump out from underneath you.
If you get left behind, so to speak, you'll be forced to regain your balance.  
Unfortunately, poor Magic will catch your full body weight in his mouth
because you're attached to it with the reins.  This is why I recommend that
you hold onto the mane until you get proficient at following a horse over a
As Magic's hind legs push, you need to close your lower legs (not your
heels) to get the degree of the horse's effort required for the jump.  When
Magic makes this push, you come lower into the saddle, but as the push is
extended you actually rise out of the saddle, following the horse.
As your jumping progresses to where you no longer need to hold onto the
mane, you'll have to do a crest release during the jump.  This means you
move your hands forward, following the crest of his neck; you do this to the
degree necessary to maintain steady contact with his mouth, while at the
same time allowing him the freedom he needs to extend his body and neck
for the fluid arc over the jump.
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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Woodland Horse Center
16301 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20905
301-421-9156          fax: 301-421-9049