Aside World Magazine
Winter 2021 Issue
Jumping Aside with Kit Roszko
Article by Kit Roszko
I know many ladies say they will never jump aside; however, if you are only going to trail ride, do re enactments or show, understanding the basics is always a good idea.
To begin, you must have a side saddle that fits you and your horse.
Saddle above does not fit propperly.
I like to start with stretching. After you mount, while you are warming up is a great time to stretch. I like to reach as far forward as I can up the horse’s neck. Remember to keep the hips and shoulders square. If you need a little help, you can put the left hand a LITTLE in front of the right hand. Also you want to check that the left leg remains at the girth and does NOT swing back. If the left leg swings too far back, it will encourage your upper body to swing too far left and you will no longer be balanced for jumping or riding aside. This is a great exercise at the walk and also the trot.
Stirrup length is always a major factor when riding aside and even more so when jumping aside. When we ride astride many of us shorten the stirrup to jump. In the side saddle you should lengthen your stirrup. If your leg is jammed into the leaping head, you will find it difficult to jump aside correctly. You should have at least a hand's width between the thigh and leaping head, and also about an inch or more between the back of the right knee and the fixed head, so you can maintain the correct purchase with the right leg. (Purchase is keeping the right calf tight against the safe of the side saddle and thigh against the fixed head.) I personally like to have the right leg touch the left leg. I have heard some instructors say not to do that, and also, some fixed heads do not allow you to keep the legs that close together. Remember your right leg is your life line in a side saddle, and this is what worked well for me.
Posting trot is the BEST exercise you can do to strengthen the right leg to help maintain the correct position in a side saddle, especially for jumping. The posting trot is more of a rocking motion, transferring the weight from your seat to the back of the right knee, what I call side saddle 2-point. Do not push off of your stirrup, that would cause the right hip to shift too far forward and to the right, and you would no longer be balanced. This is a great time to ride without your stirrup. After you have mastered this trotting on the right diagonal, you can then work on the left diagonal.
For me, side saddle 2-point is the best position for jumping aside. It is much easier to jump aside when cantering than trotting. As you are approaching the jump you want to start shifting the weight to the back of the right knee, keeping the left leg at the girth and folding at the hip, not the waist. Think of bringing your left shoulder to your horse’s right ear, keeping your eyes up. You should try to stay forward a little longer on the landing side of the jump, than you would jumping astride, avoid hitting your horse in the mouth, and maintain your purchase, because you are sitting closer to the horse’s engine. Reach for the bit for your release--creating a straight line from the elbow to the bit.
Try to keep your elbows close to the body. We all try to get forward by throwing our upper body and elbows forward thinking that will help, but we just look like we are trying to fly. Since you are sitting further back on the horse your reins will be longer than when jumping astride. Again, I like to do this going to the right first to help maintain my balance. Once you are comfortable on the right lead then you can start working on the left lead. Cantering ground poles is a great way to start, and then work your way up to cross rails and more.
If your stirrup is too short you will not be able to get into the 2 point position. You will try to throw yourself forward--which will end up twisting you to the left and losing your balance--causing a whiplash motion.
Jumping aside should not be painful; however, it does require using a few other muscles that you were not aware of when riding astride.