Old Style Horse Jumping

Naturally I am behind nearly everyone in regards to my jumping knowledge, but I just learned something that is so surprising to me that I must share.

To give appropriate credit, I just bought “The American Hunter/Jumper Forward Riding System” presented by Bernie Traurig, and this is mentioned in the introduction DVD.

I think everyone knows that the forward jumping seat was developed by Federico Caprilli and the Italian cavalry (although assisted by previous thoughtful minds prior) so I’m not going to go into that, but before that, people used to jump by appearing to basically do nothing but be left behind.

horse
Vie Yale Peabody Museum

Turns out, they aren’t just being super lazy/not knowing, that’s the way they are trying to jump.

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Via Horse Nation

People were taught to jump by leaning back and pulling on the horse’s mouth over the jump. They thought it would keep the horse’s head up through the jump and landing to better balance them.

I don’t know what the thought process was back then, but I can’t help but wonder if people started to realize it didn’t help the horse as photography was developed and they could see that all horses had horrible expressions on their face.

According to my new dvd though, foxhunters and racers were some of the first to realize that it made more sense to lean forward, but military riders were reluctant to teach this.

Thank goodness everyone eventually got behind the new style of jumping – horses certainly look much happier to be jumping!

 

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  1. inneresting!! i guess some of the shift in philosophy could have been reliant on the purpose. for instance, my last trainer was very fond of saying that she would rather me be left behind than jump ahead for safety reasons (lawn darting and such). so the military riders (who were probably less concerned with looking good in pictures vs actually safely doing whatever it is they were doing) might have preferred the back seat bc riders were less likely to become unbalanced or fall off?

    1. I don’t know, but it makes sense to think of it that way. I wonder if due to their style, the horses refused more, making for a much more defensive rider? I’m going to have to look more into it.

  2. The horses might not look happy, but they certainly accomplished a lot. Those guys jumped huge jumps without making it seem like a big deal. And horses back then tended to stay sound a lot longer so they were doing something right. I am not claiming the whole yanking on the horses head over the jump was right, it wasn’t, but something they were doing was.

    1. I hadn’t heard that they stayed sound longer, or lasted longer in any capacity. I always thought they just shot the ones that didn’t hold up, or they ended up being broken down cart horses, like in Black Beauty.

  3. If you can find some of the old Vladimir Littauer (sp?) books, they’ve got some good history on the development of the forward seat from the old style. I know I have one picked up from a used book store many years ago, and it really is fantastic. The Development of Modern Riding, maybe? It’s out of print, but if you’re interested in the history, it’s a really interesting read, and probably not too expensive to track down.

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