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We Are Flying Solo

August 15, 2011

Quiet As A Mouse, Still As A Rock

We always used to play that game with our babysitting charges when we were younger, trying to get them to stop moving and shut up, even for a short period of time.

It seems it is also a key to riding, or rather jumping in particular, that I stumbled on this weekend.

Solo and I had a nice little jump school, with some gymnastics and small single fences set up.  As I finished and dropped my stirrups to cool down my horse, I realized something:  the key to jumping well is just staying the heck out of the way.  Which sounds a lot easier than it is.

It's all about establishing your rhythm and balance and then allow the horse to work.  Point him at your fence and then wrap your legs around him and JUST SIT THERE.

What usually happens?  We fuss about our two point, omg is the angle right, omg is my heel down, omg.  We fuss about the horse's head, we fuss about the reins, we fuss about strides and distances.  And we get in the dang way.

Just stop.  None of that matters.  If you find a steady rhythm with your horse balanced and forward and you are over his center of gravity with your butt out of the saddle and soft hips and knees to absorb the motion and you stay out of his face, you'll get a good jump.  Of course, there are a lot of details involved here, but I'm talking about the essence of the thing.

Try it.  Prove me wrong.  Or better yet, prove me right.


  1. I think that "Quiet as a mouse, still as a rock" is good for a very many things in riding. Why does doing nothing have to be so difficult? ;)

  2. Doing nothing has certainly got to be one of the hardest things ever! In some ways it seems to get harder the more you ride because the more you learn the more you have to think about. Also, the more pictures I see of myself jumping the more I find myself stressing about my position which in turn makes my position ten times worse!! Very frustrating!!

  3. So true but so hard to do. It's a lot harder than it sounds.

  4. It IS extremely difficult! Then I start thinking about doing nothing, I can even overthink that! It sounds so simple to just train your muscle memory, then just sit back and let it take over. Ha.

  5. My old eventer would absolutely unhinge if you got in his face before a fence, but he also liked to bolt at fences, so I had to Just. Sit. There.

    Hardest thing I've ever done, I swear.

  6. Val, a great rider I know once told me that dressage is easy; doing it is hard.

  7. ROFL, Kate, isn't that the truth?