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How to stop falling forward after a fence

 Chinese combination Yaofeng Li and Jericho Dwerse Hagen. © FEI/Libby Law

Chinese combination Yaofeng Li and Jericho Dwerse Hagen. © FEI/Libby Law


The FEI's guide to achieving a good position when you land...

By Sophie Baker

If you find yourself struggling to sit up neatly after a jump, or even landing on the neck or leaning on the neck, it can be disheartening.

It makes it hard to jump into combinations or related distances where you need to sit up before another jump, makes it harder to turn or regulate the speed properly, and means you’re less secure in your position over bigger fences.

So how do you stop yourself from falling forward on landing and cantering away after a fence? Other than telling yourself to “sit up” of course – if that worked magic, none of us would ever fall off!


The first thing to think about is your arms. If you stiffen with your arms over the fence, it can make it very hard not to get pulled forward on landing as the horse stretches his neck forward and downward. Instead, try to think of your arms as being soft and heavy over the fence, and maintaining an elastic contact with your horse’s mouth.

Overjumping Your Body 

Another issue is if you’re overjumping with your body. When we try to emulate top riders, we often end up throwing ourselves over our horse’s necks when we jump – and unless you’re jumping huge fences, this amount of adjustment in body position isn’t normally necessary. Then when you land, you’re too far forward and getting yourself upright again is a fight against gravity!

Instead, try to imagine the horse jumping up towards you which closes the angle in your hip. You can move forward with the horse, but think of keeping your hips behind his withers so you don’t throw your weight too far forward in mid-air.

Lower Leg 

Your lower leg position is important to upper body control too. If your lower leg isn’t secure and slides back easily, you won’t be able to use it to get you back upright. Which means you’ll need a phenomenal amount of core strength!

If your lower leg is behind your hip/shoulder line, you can’t sink your weight into your heels as you start to land. Think about keeping your leg forward when you take off, and try to really let your ankles absorb the motion of your horse jumping.

Upper Body 

Then finally, your actual upper body. The first thing is to look up – pick a tree or similar area and look up at it as you jump. If you stare down too much, you tend to tip your shoulders and upper body forward which makes it hard to sit up when you land. And there’s also a visual aid which can help too.

Although you already know you need to sit up more, it’s sometimes hard to picture yourself doing it. When you approach a fence, it can help to think that there’s a big drop on the other side which you need to sit up for. 

Exercies you can do to help improve your upper body control

To help move things along, there are some exercises you can do. These will improve your body control and help you sit up as you land and canter off.

As always, you should only do exercises which are suitable for your level of riding and with an appropriate horse.

  • Grids and gymnastics mean you can focus on your body position without needing to worry about riding the correct distance or stride too.
  • Bounces force you to sit up and stay upright in your body, otherwise the quick succession of jumps will eventually just pop you out of the saddle. Hold a neckstrap to get the feeling of letting your upper body stay open and soft over the fences.
  • Cantering to small jumps and getting into jumping position a couple of strides before can help you to get the feel of folding and staying with the horse.
  • If possible, do some jumping on a lunge line without your reins. Keeping your arms to the side or behind your back can stop you relying on your hands for balance and throwing yourself too far forward over the fence or leaning on the neck to get back up when you land.

Check out the FEI's Teach Me section for more great tips...


This article was first published and written by the FEI, and is republished here with its permission. 






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