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There has been an unfortunate trend lately in jumping to adopt a position of style rather than one of function and stability.

I recognized the problem with this in my own riding when I started jumping higher and higher without a solid foundation. As a young teenager, I started having a lot of falls and it really shook my confidence jumping for several years.

Today, I'd like to share an exercise I learned to help you become more stable and secure in your jumping position.

Even if you don't jump, this is an exercise that will improve your balance and your confidence.

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Daily exercises for an immovable seat, steady hands, and a happier horse

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Better riding in 7 days (FREE Mini Course)

Daily exercises for an immovable seat, steady hands, and a happier horse

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Comments

41 Responses

  1. Not a jumper but always looking to improve balance. Looking forward to trying these exercises. Thanks Callie.

  2. I’m not a jumper, but balance is always a concern, since I am a tall woman on a big Clydesdale. I often have lower back pain, and fear that my riding position is dictated by my efforts to avoid pain. Any suggestions?

  3. Beginner jumper–and just getting back to riding post hip surgery. Right now I’m working on neuromuscular issues with activating my core. Due to how my body compensated while injured, my core has become very inactive and larger muscles like shoulder, arms, and legs are taking over. I think these excercises will be super helpful in getting my core to come back to the party!

  4. Very good video, well done, like how you go straight to the point and very generous with lots of great tips: thank you! In will definitely try the one hand exercises.
    I sometimes get up too early which can interfere with the horse’s balance instead of being more patient and waiting for the horse to sort of push me up as he goes over the jump.

    Also I still apprehend my horse refusing which is a fear that has stayed with me from years ago when I fell as my horse came to a dead stop… but that was a long time ago but it does still affect my confidence…

  5. I am taking jumper lessons and I think this will be very helpful for keeping my leg on before, during, and after the jump. I tend to relax my leg (maybe it’s moving into a less optimal position) during the jump. This can lead to unsteadiness once we land resulting in unpreparedness for whatever’s next. I can see from your video that the rider going over the poles/jump is balanced and ready for what is next.

  6. Thanks so much for the explanation and exercises. I have often found that I get left behind over a jump as my mare takes off like a rocket over the fence. Now I am going to put your tips into practice and set up some grids. Thank you

  7. I struggle with confidence and wanting to cling to my horses neck when going over jumps I cant wait to try these exercises!

  8. My horse broke a knee in 2015 so no more jumping for him. Poles, yes. Just no jumps. Also we don’t use a saddle or bridle so my hands are free. I still feel kind of insecure on such a quick catty horse until I build back more muscle and range of motion following a serious illness. Maybe I should have gotten an older well trained horse instead of an untouched 6 year old. But I like him and we’re having fun together. Laying on the neck is one problem I don’t have. A horse needs his neck free to balance himself properly.

  9. Terrific video thank you Callie. I was previously jumping on school horses and needed to focus on keeping the horse forward between jumps and counting out the strides. Currently I have my own young horse and we are not up to jumping yet but I’d like to know the best way to introduce jumping, how to keep it positive, what kinds of pre-jumping work we could do with poles, and other things to consider with a young horse without stressing joints etc. I have a very quiet thoroughbred who is still growing and a bit wobbly and we have laid out some poles (quite a distance apart) to work on straightness, really just in the sense of having something to aim for, and rewarding going over the poles in a reasonably straight, forward and relaxed manner. Love your tips. Thank you. Sari

  10. Thanks for this important info Callie.
    I have only jumped a few times (over the low crossed beams), and I think my trainer had me jump far too soon (not that I complained ), i had only been riding for a few months and we hadn’t really worked in detail on the necessary skills that lead up to jumping. That being said, what happened to me when jumping is that I always started tipping forward on my toes, and my stirrups moved far back, and I couldn’t keep my lower leg in position.
    I did switch trainers after all, and now we are working much slower towards gaining the necessary skills. I can feel that my “riding on my thighs” (which you mentioned in a few videos) is making me more stable, and my two point is much improved. I am looking forward to jumping in the future! Thank you so much for all your work and your thoughtful teaching!
    Sabine

  11. Thankyou Callie for all the training videos you provide free of charge, I really enjoy your lovely way of presenting. I’m 58 yrs old, ridden since I was 12 but have always strived to continue my learning. Even your presentations directed towards beginners are a great refresher for experienced riders like myself as there are always new things to learn or things that you may have totally forgotten about because your focus is in another area. I haven’t done these balance exercises for jumping for probably 15 years but I see it as a great reminder for me to include this in my rider training schedule, I do remember how hard it was back then, so it will be interesting now, to see how my body reacts!

  12. Thank you Callie, I will definitely try these exercises next time I go riding. Just as Sabine wrote earlier, I am a beginner as well. I also have s huge problem with the stirrups going way too back. I rid without them for a while but it didn’t help. Are there any exercises you would recommend?

  13. Hi Callie! Wonderful video. I am not really a jumper but have jumped a time or two. I feel that when I lean too far forward when taking a jump my legs also shift further back so they’re no longer under me. That just starts a cascade of imbalance which usually ends up with me leaning on the horse’s neck to collect myself. I will definitely try these exercises! Thank you!

  14. I haven’t been over a jump since my mid’ teens and now aged 60+ I’m endeavouring to re-learn how to ride. I have found this lesson on a secure jumping position really instructive and a delight to watch. Thank YOU

  15. Callie, I agree with your comments about the jumping position, and I really like your emphasis on developing a secure, balanced seat. A few months ago I took your advice, by riding for several months with only a bareback pad. What a difference it made: The other day on the trail, when my Arabian stopped, ducked, and spun at the big rattlesnake crossing our path, I was able to sit through it without a problem, calmly talking to him and patting him to help get his brain back.

    I like bareback so much I’m now considering buying an expensive bareback pad. My only concern is whether I will be hurting my horse’s back (I weigh 185 lbs) by overdoing it, as we often go on 3-4 hour trail rides.

  16. Thank you Callie. Getting back into jumping again (hunters, previous low-level eventer) at the age of 54. Since you asked, my trouble area is that I am not folding or staying with my horse and I guess I am frequently behind the motion. I doesn’t always feel that badly but that is what my trainer tells me. We’re just doing long stirrup stuff and just starting so maybe it will improve with my confidence and conditioning? I will definitely work on these trotting poles exercises. I really enjoy your short video lessons.

    Thanks!

    Kathryn

  17. Thank you Callie, this was very helpful. I have only jumped a few times since I began riding (sporadically) two years ago. Fortunately, each time has gone well, although I ended up straddling my horse’s neck the one time I jumped a course (0.5 m) bareback! The thing that has always confused me while watching other riders has been seeing many with incredibly arched backs (and as you pointed out, with their weight on their horses’ necks) while going over jumps – that was not what I was taught. So I have sort of avoided jumping because I could not see how I could maintain my balance in those fancy-looking positions. I guess I lost confidence because I thought I was doing it wrong, and I kept losing my balance whenever I attempted to do it the “correct” way.
    I have been absorbing your online tips while recovering from abdominal surgery. When I resume riding next month (after 6 months out of the saddle!), I shall go back to basics and definitely do all the exercises you have recommended in this video.
    Thank you!

  18. Thank you, Callie! I hate when I see jumpers laying on their horses necks! Instead of strengthening their core and using it properly, they just lay on the horse for balance. Perhaps we wouldn’t see as many injuries from falls if rider’s were taught this simple principle you explained in your video. You always have such great tips and explain it so simply! Thank you again!

  19. Excellent video Callie! Thank you! I was originally taught to two-point placing my hands on the horse’s neck and put my heels down. The few times I jumped it was hard to feel completely balanced. I totally love your approach of being able to balance in the saddle without leaning on the horse! It just makes SO much sense and seems much safer!! I have also found a new stable and instructor! I look forward to trying out these exercises.

  20. How can I have weight in the thighs without pinching with the knees? Thanks for the tip about regaining balance by sitting in the saddle, as I fall forward onto the neck, sometimes with disastrous results!

  21. I don’t jump but love the training to improve my balance. I will definitely try these! I have very bad balance even on my feet so can definitely use any and all pointers for riding! Thanks!

  22. hi callie,
    Thank you so much for this video. I always enjoy watching them. When you showed the jumping position do you still hold on the mane? Thanks again.

    1. Hi Terrah, I don’t practice or teach holding on to the mane, but in a pinch I will still grab it if I lose balance.

  23. Not jumped much as I’m nervous: It isn’t the jump that frightens me, it is the landing. I don’t know how to stay balanced, so anything over a cross pole feels huge. I feel very vulnerable on landing!

  24. Hi Callie, I’m 11 and I’m new to jumping. When I jump my horse will get bored and refuse, or get really exited and go to fast.

  25. Hi Callie from the UK! I started to ride at 63 and am now 68 and jumping – it’s never too late. I don’t own my own horse, but your videos have really helped me to ride other people’s. Thank you so much for your down-to-earth advice – it’s been invaluable and I’ve learnt so much. I love your videos –
    they’re the best!! Frances

  26. Hi Kellie I have been taking jumping lessons for one year now my teacher is good but I also watch your training videos and learn a lot from you Most of the directions you give I practice when I am on the horse and get better results in balance while jumping the balance position my teacher advises is to hold the neck leash on the horse and when I do I am so on his neck and no balance at all lately although I am holding on the neck belt while at jump I am trying to sit tall and that’s making my back like curve the opposite way please help me It’s my dream to jump ❀️

    1. Hi Rita! Thanks for you kind words – I’m happy to hear that the blog videos are a good supplement to your weekly lessons. When it comes to jump position there are a few things to keep in mind, we still want to have a flat back and soft joints the only thing that really changes is the hip joint closes. Your seat should remain in the saddle and you can actually put your knuckles onto the horses neck but be aware to keep your weight off of the neck, using the neck strap isn’t a bad tool, Callie actually uses it with riders here at the farm learning to jump. I hope that helps and keep working at it!

      – Julia Burdy, CRK Training Office Manager

  27. I’m just starting to learn how to jump and main thing I notice is that my left foot goes more far into a stirrup or I loose it. I think it might be that I grip more with one leg? Thank you for your video!

  28. Hi,
    Love your videos. I haven’t been riding English long. I had a bad fall 2 years ago going over a jump but I am not really scared. I have a problem with the landing. I tend to go forward on the landing. My coach said to use my arms to push a little to keep me from going forward. I also need to push my guy to stay motivated but I am focusing so much on the jump that I stop using my legs. Any suggestions or recommend videos?
    Thanks so much
    PS how do I create an account
    Thanks again
    Jean

    1. Hi Jean, sorry to hear about your fall! We have a jumping course that’ll be coming out soon that you’ll definitely want to check out for exercises on how to work through this challenge but I would recommend first starting with going through gymnastic grids with trot poles to a low fence and keep working through them. There are a few different exercises you can use going through the grid but one that I have found has worked for me personally to feel my hip angle opening on the landing is by closing my eyes going through the grid until I’m over the final small fence.

      I will say only do this exercise if you are comfortable with it, the horse is quiet, and there is someone around to supervise! Hope this helps!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

    1. Hi Sherry! I would recommend going through trot poles to a small cross rail with one hand on the reins and the other on your back, this will help keep your chest open and from diving forward with your shoulder!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  29. Thank you for the tips! Do you also have tips on leg position and stirrup length for jumping? Also I frequently have the issue of getting left behind. Any advice about this? It’s probably rooted in my fear of falling forward off the horse. Thanks again for the help. Keep the videos coming πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Mag! You have joined the community at JUST the right time! We are working on a jumping course for riders that will be released later this year – keep an eye out here at the blog for more information on when that will be available!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  30. Yes this is so helpful! Thank you for the reposting of this. I just started at a new barn and I’m switching from dressage to the hunter seat maybe doing some low jumps I’m a older returning rider. I have a good trainer but it’s been really hard changing the seat and developing new muscles and new skills and a new sense of balance. I do endeavor to keep my calf on and I do a lot of exercises just standing in the stirrups and letting my heels go down but I find it’s taking quite a bit of time to get this . I’m five weeks into it now and riding three times a week with one hour lessons each time and then one day to just hack I’m leasing a horse . this instruction is so very helpful I could use a lot more detailed instruction on the hunt seat . my instructor however does not mention lowering the thighs on the saddle I’m going to try that because I grip with my knees and she tells me to let my knees be away from the saddle so I’m sure I can feel like I am putting some of the inner thigh on the saddle while still endeavoring to get my calf on

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