What is the correct jumping position for horse riders?

If you want to school your horse over fences, you need to develop a correct, solid jumping position. This position, also called “two-point,” gets the rider’s seat out of the saddle and more forward over the horses’ shoulders.

In a nutshell, the correct jumping position features: 

  • Seat slightly out of the saddle.
  • Balance forward in a “bent” position.
  • Weight in your lowered heels. 
  • Hands forward in a “release” over the jump.
  • Eyes up!

Click to learn how to jump from the master

Be Patient with Yourself

Following the horse’s center of gravity properly requires strength, balance, and timing. Generally, there is a progression to this learning process.

Start by learning a solid jumping position on the flat (i.e. no jumps), then slowly build up to practicing over ground poles and cross rails (i.e. small jumps). Once your position is solid, you can move on to practicing over larger jumps.

This process can take months, even years, depending on the individual rider and horse. That’s 100% OK!

Two-Point Explained

The two-point position gets its name from the rider’s weight distribution, which shifts from the seat (one point) to the feet (two points). This helps the rider’s body stay forward with shoulders aligned over their hands.

It’s important for the rider to develop an independent seat and not be reliant on the reins to stay balanced.

A proper jumping position also requires a shorter stirrup length.

Traditionally, the English stirrup should fall at the ankle bone when riding on the flat. To jump, however, the stirrup should fall above the ankle bone — generally 1-2 holes shorter than the rider’s normal stirrup length.

The lower leg must be solid and still, essentially locked into position with the heel down. This helps keep the rider out of the horse’s way (important) and in a more secure position.

Check out our 10 Best Stirrups for Jumping Clear (And Staying Safe).

A strong lower leg is essential for jumping if you want to stay on the horse!

correct horse jumping position

Photo by Laila Klinsmann from Pexels

The jumping position involves more than just seat and lower leg. You’ll also need a strong core and balance.

The rider’s core includes abdominal muscles, as well as back muscles. The back should make a straight line from the shoulders to hips.

The rider’s head should be up, eyes forward — definitely not looking down at the horse or the jump.

Lastly, the rider’s hands should be in light contact with the horse’s mouth, able to release over the jump.

Tips to develop the perfect position:

  • Practice, practice, practice: Spend as much time as possible working on your jumping position. This includes time in the saddle, both on the flat and over fences, and even time at the gym if you can’t get to the barn more frequently.
  • Develop your core: Focus on exercises that improve core strength, as well as those that stretch the lower leg and allow the heel to sink deeper in the stirrup. Yoga is a great way to improve your riding out of the saddle—you’ll build core strength, stretch, and improve balance.
  • Build muscle memory: Repeating jumping exercises, gymnastics like bounces and grids, help improve your form and develop muscle memory — for you and your horse. A riding instructor should be involved, especially if you’re a beginner over fences.
  • Jump without reins: This should only be done on an experienced, safe horse and under the supervision of a riding instructor. Riding through a simple sequence of jumps without reins helps develop the independent seat and better balance.
  • Watch and learn: Equestrian vloggers can be wonderful teachers. Watching their videos helps you understand proper position — and why it matters. Bonus: This is a great way to develop your eye for distances! 

Over and Upward

Jumping can be fun, rewarding, and challenging. That’s why a solid two-point position is essential to make you safe, effective, and successful over fences.

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References:

  • https://www.fei.org/stories/improve-your-jumping-position-these-four-steps
  • https://www.appliedpostureriding.com.au/horse-riding-posture/the-jumping-position-for-horse-riders

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7 Benefits of Playing With Your Dog

Everyone knows that playing games with your dog is fun, but what we don’t often consider is that the benefits of play go well beyond just having fun. Adding in a little more playtime to your dog’s routine is one of the easiest ways to enrich your dog’s life. Here’s 7 benefits of playing with your dog.

You’re Training Your Dog, Even If You Don’t Realize It

One of the benefits to playing with your dog is that it’s a fun way to get in some daily training. Now I’m not talking about traditional “teach your dog a trick” training, but I am talking about reinforcing desirable behaviors. And in the case of play that revolves around teaching your dog to follow some basic rules.

Does your dog get too mouthy while playing tug? When that happens I simply stop playing the game. If you stop the game because your dog gets too mouthy you’re teaching them biting your hand is not acceptable. Does that feel like traditional training? Not exactly, and that’s why it’s so easy to forget that we’re training when we’re engaged in play. And that’s one of the greatest things about playing with your dog — it gives you a chance to reinforce good behaviors and have fun, all at the same time.

Play Provides Mental Stimulation

We all know that physical exercise is important for our dogs, but we often overlook the importance of mental exercise. Interactive games like tug or fetch might seem like a simple way to keep your dog busy, but they also provide a lot of mental stimulation for your dog.

Since games rely on some basic rules such as “you need to bring the frisbee back if you want to keep playing” they give your dog a chance to make their own decisions and help them build focus. Adding in a few quick games to your dogs routine is a way to ensure your dog gets a nice mental workout each day.

It’s Good Physical Exercise For You & Your Dog

Dogs require regular exercise, and using play is one of the funnest ways to make sure your dog has a chance to release all that pent up energy. And since playing with your dog requires you to get involved it means both of you will be getting in more physical activity.

And when it comes to playing with your dog for physical exercise don’t worry; I’m not suggesting a 3 hour marathon game of tug of war. Just a couple of extra 5 – 10 minute sessions of play can make a huge difference. Games like frisbee or playing with a flirt pole are physically demanding, so if you add those into your regular exercise routine (which includes the daily walk) you can make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise each day.

And If you have a high energy dog I recommend checking out 5 quick ways to tire out your dog for more suggestions; these games helped tremendously when Laika was going through her “OK I know we just got back from a 3 mile walk but I’m still ready to go!” phase.

Play is a Fun Way to Relieve Stress

Playing with your dog is fun, and as far as stress reliever’s go it’s a really simple way to improve both you and your dog’s overall mood. Spending time with your dog can have a calming effect, and some studies have found that it can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Adding in a couple of quick 5 minute play sessions with your dog each day can have a big effect on both you and your dog’s overall mood.

Playing With Your Dog Strengthens Your Bond

One of the greatest things about playing with your dog is how much it strengthens your bond. Spending quality time with your dog is one of the best ways to strengthen that bond, and when it comes to dogs play time is one of their favorite ways to pass the time. You’re not just providing them with fun when you engage them in play; you’re giving them a routine and reinforcing the idea that you are the bringer of all things fun — and that goes a long way when it comes to speeding up the bonding process.

Play Can Decrease Problem Behaviors in Dogs

Dogs who engage in regular play are less likely to develop problem behaviors such as excessive barking and chewing. The reason being is that dogs get bored, and when your dog gets bored chances are they’ll find their own ways to entertain themselves — and that boredom is what leads to things like chewed up shoes.

When you regularly play with your dog you’re keeping them busy and engaged, reducing the chance that they’ll go off on their own to find their own entertainment. If you’re looking for ways to keep your dog busy & entertained I recommend checking out 33 ways to keep your dog busy indoors & 26 boredom busters for dogs.

It Can Improve Your Social Life

And last but not least playing with your dog can improve your social life. Whether it’s going to the park to play a game of fetch or taking your dog to the neighborhood playground, chances are you and your dog will meet some new people along the way.

Your dog will benefit from brushing up on their social skills, and so will you. A study from 2015 found that being a pet owner was the third most common way that people said they met people in their neighborhoods, and that pet owners were 60% more likely to get to know people in their neighborhood that they didn’t know before.

What Are Your Dog’s Favorite Games?

What games does your dog enjoy most? Do you carve out time each day for a couple of quick play sessions? Does your dog seem more relaxed after play?

The Benefits of Playing With Your Dog

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Cost of Owning a Horse: October 2019 Expense Report

How much do horses cost? Here’s my answer for October 2019.

what horses cost oct 2019

Summary Breakdown

These reports are intended to be a tool for horse enthusiasts who are considering buying (or leasing) a horse and want a transparent look at the real cost of horse ownership.

This month, we wrapped up our barn clinic season and monthly ranch riding series. (Spoiler alert: We won!) Thanks to some creative bartering (sign up for our email list to get 7 ways to barter for horse expenses), and not having a farrier visit this month, I came in way under budget. Yay!

(If you’re new to these expense reports, make sure to read the “reminders” section here for background on my finances.)

Cost of Owning a Horse This Month

EDUCATION

  • $345 // Riding Lessons & Ranch Riding Class
    • Typically, I take 3 lessons per week (Western flatwork, jumping, and cow work). This month, I took 4 private Western lessons, 2 semi-private jumping lessons, and 1 cow working lesson
    • I also attended our barn’s Ranch Riding Finale, which was the culmination of our monthly series!
    • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for 4 lessons. Because I board at the barn, I also get a discounted rate on lessons.)
horse riding buckle

We won our barn’s ranch class finale!

  • $295 // Cow Working Clinic
    • My trainer held a 2-day cow working clinic, and it was our last event of the season.
    • (Adjustment: I traded marketing services in exchange for this clinic.) 

Learn how I manage my anxiety at competitions with my 33 Tips for Nervous Riders.

HEALTH

FUN

  • $1.99 // Discount Apples
    • Our grocery store puts bruised produce on a sale rack, and I always look for bags of apples. My horse certainly doesn’t mind a few bumps on his apples.

GEAR

  • $90 // MDC Stirrups (Gift)
    • My jumping lesson partner and I went in on a pair of MDC stirrups for our instructor’s birthday.

Click to see MDC stirrups at Amazon

See why MDC stirrups made our list of the 10 Best Stirrups for Jumping Clear (and Staying Safe).

INSURANCE

  • $14.58 // Liability Insurance
    • I have a liability policy in case my horse ever (accidentally, of course!) causes injury or damage. My Equisure policy covers $300,000 per occurrence and $600,000 aggregate.
  • $57.50 // Mortality & Major Medical Insurance
    • I also have a mortality and major medical insurance policy through Northwest Equine Insurance. It covers up to $10,000 in major medical expenses and the cost of my horse if he were to die. (Note: He WILL live forever.)
  • $70.42 // Tow Vehicle Insurance (Progressive Commercial Policy)
  • $12.75 // Horse Trailer Insurance (Progressive Commercial Policy)
  • $12.42 // US Rider Equestrian Roadside Assistance Membership
    • Think of this like AAA when you’re hauling a horse trailer. (FYI, regular roadside assistance programs will NOT service or tow horse trailers if you breakdown.)
    • I have the Classic Membership Plan from US Rider.
    • Note: I initially forgot to include this expense on my January and February reports, but I went back and added it.

STABLING

  • $460 // Board
    • Board includes outdoor paddock, feed, blanketing, turnout, deworming, and access to the facilities. Boarders also get a small discount on lessons.
    • (Adjustment: I bartered marketing services in exchange for board.)

TRAVEL

  • $111.36 // Fuel for Barn Visits
    • This figure is an average. It’s calculated by taking the IRS mileage rate for 2019 (58 cents) x 4 visits per week x 4 weeks per month.

TOTAL (Before Adjustments) = $1,517.41

GRAND TOTAL (After Adjustments) = $582.41

(Under budget by $417.59)

Money Well Spent

What am I particularly glad I spent money on this month?

  • Though it was an expensive gift, I loved seeing the look on my trainer’s face when she opened her new MDC stirrups. She does so much for our barn family that it’s nice to spoil her every now and then 🙂
  • The monthly ranch riding series was new this year, and we made so much progress in our reining, cow work, and roping. (OK, we actually still suck at roping…but it’s better.) I was so proud of my horse for earning the championship buckle at the finale! 

Buyer’s Remorse

What do I regret spending money on?

  • I was really good about budgeting in October, so I don’t have any regrets.
  • Part of the reason I spent less on horse stuff was knowing I would be going Christmas shopping at the end of the month. (Yes, I go really early!) Having something else to save for kept me from making any frivolous equestrian purchases. 

Tips for Reining in Expenses (Pun Intended)

How could you save some money?

  • Barter, barter, barter: Periodically trading for things like board and lessons helps lower my bills a lot. Bartering is what allows me to take 3 lessons per week and ride in so many clinics. If you want to get 7 ideas for how you can trade for some of your expenses, subscribe to our email list!
  • Watch for price drops: If you have a product you use often, keep an eye out for sales on Amazon or in your local tack stores. Apps like Honey can help you do this automatically by applying coupon codes and checking prices for you. Click here to try Honey for free.
  • Compare costs before you buy: Most of the time, I make my horse-related purchases on Amazon. I love the selection, 2-day Prime shipping, and competitive prices.

On the Horizon

What’s on my wish list for the future?

  • (Still on my list) Compositi Eclipse Safety Stirrups: As I said in my Compositi Stirrups Review, I’m loving this brand’s products. After I purchased the Reflex stirrups, I discovered Compositi also makes a safety stirrup called the Eclipse (see it at State Line Tack). I still want them for my jumping saddle.
  • Twisted X Moccasins: Most days, I wear boots or Sketcher flats. This fall, I realized how handy it’d be to have an in-between type of shoe that I could wear around town, to the tack store, and out walking the dog. I’ve had my eye on these Twisted X loafers for months. They’d look great with jeans and be a solid 3-season shoe. 

Click to see Twisted X shoes at Amazon

Overall, I’m grateful to come in under budget this month. Between Christmas shopping and an upcoming farrier visit in early November, it’s nice to have a financial buffer right now.

Plus, I did get some fun new horse supplies this month — without needing to pay for them. SaddleBox sent me one of their equestrian subscription boxes to review, and it was such a blast to open all those gifts.

Happy Trails!

P.S. If you hate buyer’s remorse too, check out our Horse Rookie Must Haves on Amazon for equestrian gear that’s worth every penny!

P.P.S. Buying your first horse? Check out 60 Questions to Ask When Buying the Horse of Your Dreams and our Beginner’s Guide to the Best Equine Insurance

See More Expense Reports

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