Last updated on November 2nd, 2019 at 07:57 pm
Readers recently asked me for an explanation of what type of riding I’m pursuing with my big dream of becoming an accomplished equestrian.
Here are the different riding skills:
This is what I’m working on currently. Hunt Seat Equitation can be judged “on the flat,” i.e., no jumping, or “over fences”, which is jumping. The rider is judged. How you ride is called “equitation.” Hands in the correct position? Thumbs up? Are wrists straight? Sitting up, stretching up through the top of your head? Shoulders back and square? Can you draw a straight line down through your shoulders, hips, to your heels? Heels down? Stirrup (that’s what your foot sits in) on the ball of your foot? Are knees tight against the saddle? Lower legs quiet and not swinging around? Good, light contact through the reins? Do you ride smartly? Do you keep a good place on the rail, not running up behind other horses or cutting off other riders?
A few more things are added for over fences: Eyes up, looking over the jump to spot your next jump? Good crest release, which is moving your hands up your horse’s neck to free his head so he can jump? Good jumping position out of the saddle–just enough but not too much. Lower legs remaining solid providing you with a stable base?
“Hunter Under Saddle” and “Hunter Over Fences” judges the horse.
Is he pleasant looking? Does he go about his job willingly? Is he light on the bit and not hanging, tugging or pulling on his rider’s hands? Is his head and neck carried in the correct position? Is he using himself correctly, i.e., with his powerful hind end collected under him, pushing forward, and light on his front, not unduly plunking his front feet down? “Over Fences” classes: Again, does he jump pleasantly and willingly? Does he tuck his front legs up nicely or is he lazy about it? Is he honest, meaning does he do his best to jump well even if his rider picks a bad “spot” or take-off point?
Maybe I’ll get there someday; my bravery will have to increase first though! Jumpers is a timed event over fences. The course designer sets a time the course should be completed in. For every bit of time over that, riders are given “faults” or points. Additional “faults” are given for knocking down a rail (4 faults), refusals (8 faults). “Clean rounds” are earned by riders who complete the course within the time allowed and do not knock down any rails or have any refusals (horse gets to jump, says, “No Way!” and refuses to jump). All riders with clean rounds go into the jump-off, which is a shorter course of jumps. In the end, whoever has the best time or least number of faults, wins. Jumpers is exciting and the jumps are huge – they can be over 5 feet tall with 4-foot spreads. Scary!
My riding hand injury is doing better. Stitches came out on Monday and I’m able to use it more and more. My doctor was not 100% pleased with how well it’s closing up, my grip strength or the fact that I cannot straighten my fingers all the way. But, she cleared me to use it more and believes it will improve as the swelling continues to decrease and the tissues heal. She said in order to get full use back, I have to use it as much as I can. I’m OK to ride next week if I feel my hand is strong enough. She’s a rider herself and called me “extremely lucky”.
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