Top showjumper Yazmin Pinchen responds to a Horse magazine reader's plea for tips to develop their jumping position
Question: I need some good exercises to help develop a more secure lower leg position over fences. My legs swing back, which makes me feel less stable in the saddle. can you help? Holly Edwards, Hertfordshire
Yazmin says: Try this useful exercise: shorten your stirrups and go into rising trot. At the top of the 'up' motion, stop rising and hover above your horse's withers for a few strides, taking the shock of your horse's movement in your knees and ankles. You can do this exercise in walk and canter, as well as trot.
Have a soft, consistent connection with your horse's mouth by carrying your hands just above the withers, and ensure you have supple elbows.
Do not straighten your knees or rest your weight against the horse's neck. While this may make it more comfortable for you, an incorrect position avoids the difficulty of the exercise. Even worse, it drives your weight straight down into your horse's withers with every stride.
Work on your balance by standing in your stirrups
If you are up for the challenge, you can try rising trot without stirrups, which is a great way to strengthen your lower leg position. Before you start, place your knees a little higher in the saddle so you have sufficient leverage to produce your rising motion. This exercise is surprisingly difficult to do, and you will find your knees slip down after a few minutes.
When this happens, practise lifting your knee up in the saddle. This is the same motion you need to make when attempting to regain your stirrup after you lose it, so the exercise will help make you safer and more effective in the saddle, as well as fitter.
While trotting, remember to relax your elbows as you rise, so your hands don't move up and down with your trotting motion.
For more expert training advice, check out the popular Q&A section in Horse magazine each month. To ask your own riding or horsecare question, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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