Tag Archives: jumping training

Let’s chat about “deep seat” – Part 1 aka moving with no muscles and no brain…


There will be no step-by-step instruction manual in this little series on developing, what we come to call “deep seat” in teaching language. If you are looking for the exact “what to do” manual, I will tell you straight away to not waste your time on reading further.

I will, however, attempt to describe the clues I personally found invaluable when working on my own “deep seat” and on the skill of teaching it to others.


Due to individual nature of our awareness as riders there are some elements of riding that cannot be simply described and “tried” – they need to be figured out…What I mean by this is that you might be told what to do and then you try it 1000, 5000, 10.000 times and you still might not achieve the result you are after. Trying the same thing multiple times is not going to cut it. You can try to open a door with the wrong key million times – the key still won’t fit no matter how many times you try.

When riding, you might be feeling that you are trying your best and still not getting “that” feel, your horse is still at the same stage of his schooling as last year and nothing feels more harmonious than before.

What does it really mean to sit deep(er)?

How would you describe it with your own words if you were to explain the concept to a 10 year old? Take a minute now and write down your immediate thoughts. Don’t use any of the “horse riding” language, only words and concepts that might make sense to that 10 year old…

Done it?

Now, bare with me and let’s watch this 1 minute video together… 

What you see there is a robot with no motor, no muscles, certainly no brain (nor a computer substitute either) casually walking in a rather relaxed manner, in a good rhythm and at constant speed…

There are many lessons from that video for sure but what could we learn from it that is going to help us with our “deep seat”? 

Lets list 3 important points that allow the robot to remain gracefully moving in an effortless rhythm:

1. The robot relies on gravity and inertia 

2. The robot relies on its design (structure/posture – the way it got put together)

3. The robot relies on additional stabilisers that prevent it from falling over

Now, picture a very effortless rider who seem to be using not much muscular effort and yet stays beautifully in a “deep seat”. How about we swap a robot with a rider to describe what we see:

1. The rider relies on gravity and inertia 

2. The rider relies on his/her “design” – structure (skeleton) and posture (the way he/she organises that skeleton)

3. The rider is aware of the movements of his/her skeleton and automatically “uses” their ligaments, tendons to control joint movements

See also (just because I love simple definitions!): Inertia for kids: http://scienceforkids.kidipede.com/physics/space/inertia.htm

skeletonNow, we have some material to figure out… How is your skeleton “designed”? How does it move in the saddle? Is the position of your head helping you use gravity to its best advantage? Are your joints in neutral position? If you had no muscles, no brain – would your bones alone, in their current structure be well stacked? If not, which part wouldn’t?

If your “design” isn’t ideal, how are your (as in – your personally not other riders) muscles helping you or hindering you? And helping with what? Hindering what?

I am leaving you for now with the above questions – Part 2 coming shortly…Have fun spending the next few days paying heightened awareness to your bones 😉 

PART 2: https://aspireequestrian.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/lets-chat-about-deep-seat-part-2-aka-when-seat-bones-become-our-feet/

Improving your Jumping Position – Exercises to Add to Your Training Routine

The question of how to improve a jumping position has repeated itself in Aspire blog’s searches for the last few days so I thought I will share some generic ways to go about it. Please feel free to pick and mix the below suggestions to your liking and adjust them to your fitness level, your horse’s stamina and your general personal circumstances.

Let’s get to it.wiolajumpingugie


The first step would be to take a video of yourself cantering in light seat and jumping over a course of jumps. This will form the basis of your action plan for the next 3 months or so.


– your coordination,
– stamina,
– back and neck/head position,
– lower leg position,
– suppleness through ankles,
– knees and hips,
– independence of the hand,
– your natural reactions when things get difficult and
– overall ability to maintain your own centre of gravity over that of the horse.

If you are unsure as to how to evaluate all this, you can ask your instructor to help you. Don’t skip on this step because improving “something” equals improving nothing much at all…You want to end up with being somewhat clear on what you strengths and weaknesses are in this particular skill before you move on.

Get a knowledgeable instructor to guide you into the desired posture in jumping positions (remember there are three stages to the jump and therefore three different positions: take off-flight-landing) “in halt” so you can build your awareness as to where each part of your body needs to be at each stage of the jump. This will be your benchmark “feel” as you work on your exercises by yourself.


Second step would be to improve the way you ride your horse in canter. I like to think that, at lower levels up to some 1.10m, a jump is like a one, very round, very elevated canter stride 🙂 Keep working on various exercises in canter and you might be amazed at how this improves your dexterity, coordination and stability over the jumps. Below are some exercises that can be of help but it’s important to adjust them to your needs and your horses’ fitness:

Transitions within canter with changes of seat

Establish a forward going stride with your horse staying in front of your leg. Next, choose certain distance (for example between quarter markers on a long side of the arena or from one tree to another some 25-30m apart) and ride in powerful, extended (but controlled) canter in two-point/light seat. At the marker (or at the tree) start sitting in the saddle and start collecting each stride so as your turn onto short side of the area (or field) you can ride the next 15m or so in collected canter. Do it couple of times on each rein. Aim at perfecting the way you come up from the saddle when you add power to the canter and the way you sit deep when you collect the strides. Remember to always maintain good quality canter i.e. your horse should not drop behind your leg when you sit to collect.

Once you are both familiar with the exercise start increasing the amount of transitions you do: ride 5-7 strides in medium canter/light seat and 3-4 in deep seat collected canter, then back to medium, then back to collected.
I use the word “collected” here loosely – just aim for a level of collection that your horse is ready for. You want a short stride with plenty of power, bounce and joy not a flat, pulled-in posture in a four beat caricature of a canter. Keep your horse happy 🙂

– Rising canter on the flat and over poles.

Great exercise to improve mobility of knees and hips as well as quickness of reactions, dexterity and joint suppleness. Start by establishing a good working canter around the arena and ride in “polo canter” for as long as you can. Aim to rise on every other stride as you would in rising trot. More on rising canter here.

Once you can do it well in working canter, add transitions within canter to it and maintain rises in “collected” strides and medium strides – it is a great exercise to practice in order to improve fluidity and feel for take off and landing.

Adding canter poles makes this exercise even more interesting. You can scatter poles around the arena in no particular order but so that you can canter patterns over them. Start in working canter and deep seat on the approach, canter rise for ONE stride as your horse canters over the pole, then slide gently back into the saddle and continue to the next pole. The key here is to try to rise for ONE stride only, then land lightly back into the saddle.wiolaonradieuse

There are many exercises you can follow this up with, for example: build a line of canter poles where your gymnastic line would be later (build 2-3 bounce distances to 2-3 at one stride distances). Establish working canter that is suitable for your horse and approach the line in two-point/light seat. Over each pole canter-rise ONCE paying attention to you your lower leg position, suppleness and general sync with the horse’s stride. Repeat coming in deep seat and rising ONCE over each pole. Maintain rhythm and speed of the canter so that it doesn’t change whether you sit and rise.

Many riders do very well producing a nice, powerful canter in light seat but have problem maintaining it when sitting back in the saddle. If this too is your issue, observe whether you sit without holding the horse back through your seat bones. When you sit in the saddle, you should feel that your seat bones still maintain the diagonal weight shift needed for forward momentum and it is the positioning of your body, the incremental “hold” of your thighs and weight distribution through your back is what “brings the horse back”.

Gymnastic lines

Jumping over gymnastic lines of fences that are on a bounce, one and two stride distance helps immensely with riders’ jumping position. The repetitiveness of the exercise allows the rider to focus on themselves and let the horse learn from the exercise too. The fences are usually low and coming quick after one another which teaches the rider to concentrate and relax through the joints – especially ankles and knees, which often want to hold on to the horse and prevent secure jumping position from developing.

STEP 3: Keep Reassessing

In most generic terms, spend as much time in canter as you can on as many different horses as possible. Change often between two-point (light) seat and three – point seat (dressage seat). Focus on developing fluidity and ease in those canter exercises. Work over the poles in light seat often, both in trot and in canter. Have eyes on the ground, a knowledgeable friend or your instructor to give you feedback on how you are doing – many a time what we feel is very different from how it is…

I hope these few tips were useful for some of you out there 🙂
Have a great day!

Aspire Grassroots Clinic at Lindrick Livery, North Yorkshire; 15-16 March 2014 – Photo Report by Pure Essence Photography

After an epic road trip we returned from North Yorkshire. It was so much fun teaching riders at Lindrick Livery and we are delighted they invited us to come back next month!

Here are some lovely photos from the weekend by Pure Essence Photography – if you click on the collage below you can view all photos separately as larger files 🙂

Aspire Yorkshire 15-16 March 2014

Spring Training season commences

It seems like flooding and downpours are the thing of the past in the UK and the first day of our 2014 training adventures at Cullinghood Equestrian Centre welcomed us with beautiful sunshine and warm, gentle wind 🙂

Intensive Training Day at Aspire Development Programme level

Guest Blogger Filippa shares a few words on her latest intensive training with Emma Emanuelsson

Last week I was a part of a very special training for two days. The trainer is a well known Swedish rider called Emma Emanuelsson. It was so much fun and I learned a lot!

FilippaSwedenWe did not jump so much on the first day and focused on flatwork instead. The training consisted mostly of tempo changes in different forms. One of the exercises was trot and canter work between two poles on the ground. Bella did very well in the warm up and in the dressage practice. She was very happy and alert, just like I want her to be.

It went well when we started jumping too. There were two small obstacles on a circle, an obstacle on one of the long sides, two poles in the middle and six obstacles on the other side. All ending with an oxer.

Emma’s training was quite different to my own so it was a new exciting experience to train with her methods.
Bella was very tired after the first day of training probably because we have never ridden that long or so intense before.

The second day the warming-up was not as long as on the first day. Bella felt a bit tired, she was not as alert as on the first day.  She did not have the same energy as on day one. The jumping was not as good either. The jumping course was a lot like a course you might see on a regular competition in show jumping. It consisted of twelve obstacles, with a combination of two obstacles and a lot of oxers. There was also an obstacle that I don’t know the word for in English for, but I am going  to try to explain it. It consists of three single obstacles in line, all together and quite intense for us to jump.

At the end of day two Bella was very tired. She did her best. She has never been on that kind of two-day showjump training before. It was very high and very long. Even I was exhausted. We both celebrated that we made it with a shower and extra meal portions!

 All the best,


Jumping training. Three strides out and how your actions before them as well as there and then determine the quality of the jump

Today I would like to chat with you about jump training and describe some of my teaching methods.

Let’s start from watching this slow motion video showing a rider approaching and going over few different jumps at different take off points. The rider is myself and I put together the footage where take off spots vary from good one to much too long one.

Continue reading Jumping training. Three strides out and how your actions before them as well as there and then determine the quality of the jump