by Barbara Ellin Fox
In my blog titled, Are Hands Part of the Base of Support?, I showed you why, Mr. Morris’ definition of the base of support is only part of the truth. In this blog I’ll show you why seat and thighs are inadequate as a base of support and how riders have compensated for it.
What happens when we follow Mr. Morris’ definition of base of support to it’s logical conclusion? To reiterate, Mr. Morris’ definition of base of support is “seat and thighs”. We have seen photos of average riders, particularly ones of horse and rider jumping higher fences, that the seat and thigh are not in contact with the saddle. And we have seen that the rider’s lower leg (which is in contact with the horse) and stirrup, are providing them some support during the jump.
But is that all? Is there anything else that’s supporting these riders?
For variety I’ve added photos of more riders. I invite you to look at these and the photos from my other blogs for comparison. And in case you feel like I’m “stacking the deck” for the purpose of my point of view, surf the net for photos from shows, look for photos of show results in magazines like the Chronicle of the Horse and draw your own conclusions. But I think you’ll agree that it doesn’t take a highly educated eye to see that all these riders are being supported by another body part, namely the hands and sometimes their arms.
A quick investigation into other types of riding reveals that the seat taught for hunter/jumper riding is the only one that teaches riders to support themselves by pressing their hands, arms or upper body into the horse’s neck. One could argue that this is necessary because they horse and riders jump so high, but then I would ask you to view the video on my July 13 post, Huaso Sets the World Record, and you will see that leaning on the horse’s neck was not necessary to break the world’s record for high jump at 8’1 1/2″. Or look the video I’ve included at the end of this post. And for really excellent photos of our great Olympians, check out the illustrations in William Steinkraus’ book, “Riding and Jumping”. None of these riders needed to “lean” on their horse with their hands or arms, for support.
What has happened to change the way we support ourselves on a hunter or jumper in America and was this change necessary? Check the future U.S. Horsemanship blogs while I explore this timely and sometimes testy topic.
Thanks for reading U.S. Horsemanship
Barbara Ellin Fox