Leg position - jumping.....HELP!!

YoungNag22

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Hi guys,

Looking for some exercises, tips and tricks to help with my leg/lower leg particularly whilst jumping. I have had quite a long break from jumping but am now getting back into it (only low level) and am really struggling to keep my lower legs down the girth and not having them swinging back. I'm assuming I'm gripping with my knees but its really getting me down as I'm really hard on myself when it comes to my riding and feel I'm letting my lovely horse down. I've currently resorted to tying my stirrups to the girth which i know isn't the right way to actually fix the problem so hoping for some help. I really want to get my position nailed and secure so i can ride my horse effectively. I have regular lessons for both jumping and flat and my instructors have said it will come with regular practice and I'm just being hard on myself but hoping there is more i can be doing. I want that Lara Collett lower leg!!! :D
 

Birker2020

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Hi guys,

I've currently resorted to tying my stirrups to the girth which i know isn't the right way to actually fix the problem so hoping for some help. :D
Sorry to be boring, but this is also very dangerous, if your foot slips through the stirrup you could end up getting dragged if you fall off as the stirrup leather won't be able to detach from the stirrup bar.

I hope you come up with a solution though.
 

YoungNag22

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Sorry to be boring, but this is also very dangerous, if your foot slips through the stirrup you could end up getting dragged if you fall off as the stirrup leather won't be able to detach from the stirrup bar.

I hope you come up with a solution though.
Thanks for your reply. I use acavallo alupro safety stirrups and the equilibrium symmetry straps which are velcro. I'm very safety conscious as have had some awful falls in the past.
 

RachelFerd

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does it happen in every saddle? does your saddle fit you? You will probably get lots of advice about riding around in 2 point for weeks on end but for me the problem was solved instantly by finding a saddle that actually put me in correct balance.
HAHA my advice is literally to ride around in 2-point for weeks on end. Start with 30 seconds, keep building up daily until you're doing ~10 minutes work in a light seat (walk, trot, canter - doesn't matter what speed - in some respects trot is the best for building your strength). Check your stirrups are short enough - practice riding with them uncomfortably short (nearly jockey style) and then drop them back down a hole once you've got used to it. Saddles are influential, but you should be able to maintain 2-point jump position in pretty much anything other than a super-straight cut dressage saddle.
 

milliepops

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the reason i ask about the saddle is i asked exactly this question on HHO over a decade ago and was given that advice, i did it for weeks on end and all the other stuff but it wasn't until someone (either LEC or spottedcat, can't remember.. said what about the saddle...) and that was an instant fix. I would still be here now bumbling around in 2 point in my old saddle :p i got very good at 2 point but my leg still swung back ;)
 

RachelFerd

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the reason i ask about the saddle is i asked exactly this question on HHO over a decade ago and was given that advice, i did it for weeks on end and all the other stuff but it wasn't until someone (either LEC or spottedcat, can't remember.. said what about the saddle...) and that was an instant fix. I would still be here now bumbling around in 2 point in my old saddle :p
I've ridden in some pretty rubbish saddles - and have spent a lot of time the nothingness of race exercise saddles too - they might be a disadvantage, but I don't think they're insurmountable. There are lots of jump saddles which are insurmountably horrible to try and maintain a dressage position in though...
 

sbloom

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Does it happen on the flat too? We try to bend out two straight line legs around the horse's cuved ribcage, while ignoring the shape of seat that our pelvis and hip conformation might need, and then expect our legs to do exactly what we need, and that hard work will fix them. You may need more support from your saddle, though very few fitters are trained in this to be able to tailor the fit to what you need, it's not just a matter of a calf block to stop it swinging which is the usual "cure". It's no better than jamming you in a deep seat and big blocks because you drift into a chair seat in dressage. It's an area we're only just learning about really, so far it's been rather more trial and error than science.
 

sbloom

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HAHA my advice is literally to ride around in 2-point for weeks on end. Start with 30 seconds, keep building up daily until you're doing ~10 minutes work in a light seat (walk, trot, canter - doesn't matter what speed - in some respects trot is the best for building your strength). Check your stirrups are short enough - practice riding with them uncomfortably short (nearly jockey style) and then drop them back down a hole once you've got used to it. Saddles are influential, but you should be able to maintain 2-point jump position in pretty much anything other than a super-straight cut dressage saddle.
I have a FB post going up tonight to address that very philosophy, 2 point can be the hardest thing to achieve in a saddle that doesn't fit the rider, but yes, you can work and fight and may get to a point in the end where you CAN do it, but it's so often in tension and ridiculous that we have to do so much to cope with kit that isn't working for us.
 

RachelFerd

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I have a FB post going up tonight to address that very philosophy, 2 point can be the hardest thing to achieve in a saddle that doesn't fit the rider, but yes, you can work and fight and may get to a point in the end where you CAN do it, but it's so often in tension and ridiculous that we have to do so much to cope with kit that isn't working for us.
I don't disagree with you that saddle is often an issue. But lack of balance and stability resulting from weakness and/or lack of fitness is definitely a big factor too. I'm not advising anyone to use a race exercise saddle, for those things are instruments of torture to a horse, but learning to ride in a light seat in one of those has pretty much made the saddle irrelevant to me, unless it has irritatingly excessive blocks getting in the way or a huge cantle blocking me from getting my weight far back enough. I've been jumping quite a few riding school horses of late whilst doing some teaching exam training, and I've ridden in some pretty 'bad' saddles (often fitted to super round cobs and i'm tall and v long hip to knee) but they aren't the worst - it's still possible to do a good jumping position in them, even if they aren't helpful.

I'm just always a bit flabbergasted that people will spend £4k on a new monoflap to fix their lower leg, when good instruction and some time spent practising are probably more valuable.
 

IrishMilo

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I think it's a combo of strengthening yourself AND the saddle tbh. I hate riding in some saddles as I feel like my legs aren't supported at all and some feel like they put you in just the right position. I don't think you should rely on the saddle to keep your leg secure though... are you stable in no stirrup work? Bareback?
 

sbloom

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I'm just always a bit flabbergasted that people will spend £4k on a new monoflap to fix their lower leg, when good instruction and some time spent practising are probably more valuable.
A monoflap is more likely to make a lower leg that slips back worse. This is the issue, that it's not understood by makers or fitters either.
 

Leandy

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You need to ride, a lot, with your seat out of saddle in light seat and jumping seat until you are properly balanced and stronger. In all paces, start with halt and then walk, then trot, then canter. Then jumping. Master each pace first before moving onto the next.
 

sbloom

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Why? I find the opposite.
The leg usually slips back because of lack of support, and for support read width, in very simplistic terms. A monoflap makes everything narrower under the leg. I suspect that it's a combo of factors that makes you an exception, we are all individuals of course.
 

milliepops

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yeah it's definitely an individual thing. my problematic saddle (was much worse than a bog standard GP i had before it) was an ideal impala double flap, at the time people on here were raving about them but it put me in the most awful position and i was fighting it all the time. it was fitted and checked multiple times for the horse but was horrendous for me.
A wow mono sorted it in an instant, and now i have the muscle memory to be able to overcome less than perfect saddles but up to that point there was just no hope for me :p I don't particularly like blocks for jumping and chose something pretty minimalist with my Wow so it was all about the balance i think.
 

wren123

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Exactly what @Red-1 said, as you jump bum back, someone once said to me think of folding for a jump like folding an ironing board, creating angles in your body.
 

LEC

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The leg usually slips back because of lack of support, and for support read width, in very simplistic terms. A monoflap makes everything narrower under the leg. I suspect that it's a combo of factors that makes you an exception, we are all individuals of course.
I can’t ride in a double flap. My lower leg goes flying out behind. I can’t have any knee blocks as I am tall and long from knee to hip.
 

LEC

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Exactly what @Red-1 said, as you jump bum back, someone once said to me think of folding for a jump like folding an ironing board, creating angles in your body.
The modern position is actually hips forward and this is the revelation I had with sorting mine. It’s still not where I want it to be but too many people over fold, push bum back too much and grip with the knee.
 

sbloom

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I can’t ride in a double flap. My lower leg goes flying out behind. I can’t have any knee blocks as I am tall and long from knee to hip.
It would be fascinating to see what was going on and why that happens, it sounds like flap shape and block placement is a big component of what's going on, it's impossible to isolate anything as what you need for your leg depends on what's going on under your pelvis too, and what shape ribcage(s) you're riding. Your leg length alone may mean that your knee could be so far down the horse that it gets pushed really wide, and a double flap means a little extra under your whole thigh and knee, which means your lower legs are left hanging. If your knee was higher on the horse your calf would have more bulk underneath it.

Because our legs are two straight lines, and horses have curved ribcages, where we need the support can vary massively, and it needs to be targeted specifically, the thickness of the flap being the base, then we customise further from there.
 
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wren123

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The modern position is actually hips forward and this is the revelation I had with sorting mine. It’s still not where I want it to be but too many people over fold, push bum back too much and grip with the knee.
OMG that shows how out of date I am!
 
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sbloom

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I wonder if the shift to getting hips forwards is related to where the riders are sitting relative to the horse's back and shoulders...if the saddle sits you that right place there would seem to be less need to bring the hips forwards...thinking out loud.

@LEC do you have any photos showing a good jump position along these lines?
 

LEC

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I think a lot of it is to do with degree of fold in the rider. I think this is why hips forward is more beneficial in terms of where the gravity and balance should be placed. Obviously, when I say this I do not intend that riders are also upright planks over a fence. Too often we are told shoulders back but the hips are far more influential in balance and how we impact the horse. Its also, counter intuitive to be told shoulders back as makes you stiff. If I am teaching I now yell hips forwards at riders coming into a jump who shoulders are beginning to pitch as they anticipate the jump.

https://images.app.goo.gl/5CWksCF1o4txcnnx9
Ros, is forwards with the hips.

So slightly more extreme as Ben doesn't quite have to worry about xc stability - but hips forwards.
https://images.app.goo.gl/4y3SBzhLZiigSgto7

Harvey Smith - less stable lower leg with hips positioned further back and a much larger fold through the body.
https://images.app.goo.gl/xHNpe4z2UtAGghpB6

Meredith Beerbaum is interesting in photo below as much further back
https://images.app.goo.gl/xcdfLCcUXfdHaCyw7
but she must adapt it to the horse because this is more what I would expect
https://images.app.goo.gl/xcdfLCcUXfdHaCyw7
 
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Red-1

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Recently bought into cob culture.
The modern position is actually hips forward and this is the revelation I had with sorting mine. It’s still not where I want it to be but too many people over fold, push bum back too much and grip with the knee.
LOL, if that is old fashioned, then yes, I must be! I aspire to the Lucinda Green seat, for XC at least.

Lucinda (1).jpg
I believe that this is an extreme fold to allow for the spread on the base of the fence, but I do believe that, if you spirited the horse away, you could stand upright.

Many people either 'fold forward' which, IME makes people vulnerable oif the horse stumbles on landing, or simply stand up, where the horse doesn't get enough length of rein to bascule.
 

sbloom

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Interesting and thanks for posting, I look at Lucinda and think she looks more secure than the others. Your pics of Meredith are the same one, but I'd say she's clearly had a dodgy take off and got left behind, perhaps the horse took a flyer. I wonder how it is said to benefit the pair, horse or rider or both?
 

RachelFerd

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I think a lot of it is to do with degree of fold in the rider. I think this is why hips forward is more beneficial in terms of where the gravity and balance should be placed. Obviously, when I say this I do not intend that riders are also upright planks over a fence. Too often we are told shoulders back but the hips are far more influential in balance and how we impact the horse. Its also, counter intuitive to be told shoulders back as makes you stiff. If I am teaching I now yell hips forwards at riders coming into a jump who shoulders are beginning to pitch as they anticipate the jump.

https://images.app.goo.gl/5CWksCF1o4txcnnx9
Ros, is forwards with the hips.

So slightly more extreme as Ben doesn't quite have to worry about xc stability - but hips forwards.
https://images.app.goo.gl/4y3SBzhLZiigSgto7

Harvey Smith - less stable lower leg with hips positioned further back and a much larger fold through the body.
https://images.app.goo.gl/xHNpe4z2UtAGghpB6

Meredith Beerbaum is interesting in photo below as much further back
https://images.app.goo.gl/xcdfLCcUXfdHaCyw7
but she must adapt it to the horse because this is more what I would expect
https://images.app.goo.gl/xcdfLCcUXfdHaCyw7
This is really interesting, but I'm not sure I would understand what to actually *do* if someone shouted 'hips forwards' at me coming into a jump! I am trying to over fold less over a fence in the showjumping (funnily enough I don't tend to over fold XC) but for me, imagining a big exercise ball between horses neck and my upper body helps me stay in the right place.

I think it's really hard to make snap judgements from individual photos for a couple of reasons

- Body type - Ros is about 5' nothing and very will have quite different balance challenges to Jesse Campbell or WFP - and the outcome is that it will look different (more length of leg and body to stack over the stirrup must surely result in hips needing to be pushed further back for a taller rider)
- Phase/Jump type - there's obviously far less requirement to sit tight in the SJ compared to the XC - and the terrain of the XC jump and type of jump is also going to influence position needed. So there are going to be times where a hips back, slightly behind the movement position is necessary, and times where it isn't.

FWIW I really like the soft and forward style that Chris Burton has, but critics will say he is too far in front of movement and is precarious (https://www.horseradionetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/ers-493-chris-burton.jpg) ... I always find it fascinating that whenever you google any top rider and start looking at jumping positions, for every perfect photo there's often one which is 'technically incorrect' if you wanted to pull it apart - but they are getting the job done!
 

sportsmansB

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Riding a lot in 2 point seat in a saddle which fits you and the horse really does make a difference.
be careful when in 2 point that you aren't balancing on the reins (rest hands on neck / hold a strap) and do a lot of 2 point and you will get more secure. Especially doing transitions that way. But start by doing a set number of strides in 'normal' seat, then a set number in forward seat. Slowly increase the amount of each as you get more secure. You'll feel if your legs are steady as the horse won't change rhythm and you will gradually feel more and more secure. Increase the amount of 2 point seat until you are able to ride that way without a break on a hack say for a good stretch. You simply can't do it with bad lower legs.
Then introduce poles and cavaletti and stay in 2 point.
It does work but you also need eyes on the ground to make sure you are straight and to help make small corrections.
 

LEC

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The problem with the kiwi/Aussie position is it’s actually based on American equitation. George Morrison actually taught a fair bit in both countries but would never come to UK as very alien in the way we ride compared as not American light seat. It’s also only the men who ride like this - all have a similar frame. Jonelle though rides light doesn’t ride in quite the same way despite having the same upbringing which is strong SJ foundations as a bigger sport. It’s interesting as Burto did fall off a fair bit in situations where AN and WFP would have stayed on. I love the way Tim Price and Burto ride but it’s nearly impossible to teach or train as due to its being about incredible timing, balance and body type.

I was watching Cian O’Connor the other day and he said the secret to riding was timing and I thought, yep you are right. He said it’s the timing between hand and leg and you spend your life trying to get better at it.
 
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