“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:
Teaching the Automatic Release – The Hagman Formula
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.
The Progression of Releases
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.
Gordon Wright illustrates the following hand
Conrad Homfeld and Abdullah
Greg Best and Gem Twist at the 1988 Olympic Games
Susan Hutchison and Sporting Spirit
Natasha Traurig and her 7-year-old mare Bluey
Meg Milone and Farnley Sir Rodger
Tamara McKinney and Buckeye Taffy
My son, Lucas, when he was about 10 years old