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Mastering All Releases: The Following Hand or Automatic Release (Part 6B)

“The Broken Line”

As stated in my previous Part Six A post on the following hand, it is said that the straight line from the rider’s elbow to the horse’s mouth may offer the best connection. Certainly, when practicing this release, I would strive for a straight line as it’s more difficult to achieve, and disciplined practice will make you better at it.

I agree with Gordon Wright (illustration in photos) that a line broken to some degree above the straight line is acceptable. On a phone conversation with the Master of Masters, Bill Steinkraus agreed with that concept.

Sometimes, it is a bit difficult to determine if a rider is using a crest release (balance on the horse’s neck) or lightly brushing along the horse’s neck and following the mouth with a broken line. I usually go by what their base of support looks like. Would this rider be in the same position if he separated his hands from the neck?

In our sport today, riders and coaches have drifted more and more away from this release, and the following arm has become more broken with only the occasional straight line. The photos below will show what I believe is the following hand in a broken line with no (or minimal) dependence on the horse’s neck and a strong base of support.

In addition to these photos, check out the following videos:

an exercise to learn the automatic release over jumps on your horse

An Exercise To Perfect The Automatic Release
Bernie Traurig
A great way to get off the neck for balance and move from the crest release to connection with the mouth, or the “Automatic Release.”

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jim hagman teaches a rider the automatic release on her horse

Teaching the Automatic Release – The Hagman Formula
Jim Hagman
In this topic, Jim Hagman, founder and head coach of Elvenstar (one of the West Coast’s most successful show stables), presents his formula for introducing and perfecting the automatic release.

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The Progression of the Releases by Karen Healey

The Progression of Releases
Karen Healey
Karen Healey and her demonstration riders present the various releases used in the jumping disciplines. Karen shows us what releases are suitable at the different stages in a rider’s development, from a beginner “reach up and grab mane” release to the most advanced following hand or automatic release. She discusses the advantages certain releases have and some common faults riders can make when incorrectly used.

View Video

Clinic bookings for 2024 are available. I love helping riders work on their release and establish better connection with their horse. To book a clinic with me click the button below.

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The following hand from Gordon Wright’s book

Gordon Wright illustrates the following hand

Conrad Homfeld '84 Olympics

Conrad Homfeld and Abdullah

Bill Steinkraus

Bill Steinkraus.

Greg Best and Gem Twist

Greg Best and Gem Twist at the 1988 Olympic Games

Rodney Jenkins

Rodney Jenkins

Susan Hutchison and Sporting Spirit

Susan Hutchison and Sporting Spirit

Natasha Traurig and her 7-year-old mare Bluey

Natasha Traurig and her 7-year-old mare Bluey

Meg Milone and Farnley Sir Rodger

Meg Milone and Farnley Sir Rodger

Tamara McKinney and Buckeye Taffy

Tamara McKinney and Buckeye Taffy

My son Lucas Traurig

My son, Lucas, when he was about 10 years old

Bernie Traurig

As a Horseman, Bernie is renowned for not only his riding talents but for his teaching and coaching gifts. As a competitor, Bernie has represented the United States Equestrian Team both at home and abroad on many occasions and reached the top of the sport in all 3 of the International Equestrian Olympic disciplines: Show Jumping, Dressage, and Eventing.After amassing 60 years worth of training and riding techniques and experiences with thousands of horses, Bernie is driven to give back to the sport that has given him so much fulfillment and success.

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