We frequently see the short crest release in the jumper, equitation, and, sometimes, hunter divisions. (I find that the long release seems to be the fad in the hunter division.)
There is some degree of the rider’s balance on the horse’s neck, but normally less so than the long release. In the long release, the hands are placed far along the crest of the neck, whereas in the short release, the hands are lower. There is some light contact usually maintained with the mouth giving the rider more control, yet the placement of the hands should always allow the horse to use its head and neck as much as desired.
The danger of this is setting the hands too close to the wither of the horse, thus “stiffing” the horse in the air. Or, even worse, no release at all.
When the hands are placed a bit lower on the crest and following the motion of the horse in the air, it’s a great stepping stone to the automatic release once your base is secure.
The following photos and descriptions are examples of the short crest release.
My next two posts to come in this series are all about the following hand, or automatic release. Stay tuned!
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Natasha Traurig on Que Paso. Here you can see Natasha in a short crest release. The placement of her hands allows the horse to beautifully use his neck in the air. I see the lightest of balance on the neck and have the feeling with that solid leg she could easily widen her hands and take this into an automatic release.
Natasha on Choose Me 4. She has placed her knuckles softly on the side of the crest in just the right place to encourage a great jump and still maintain the lightest contact with the mouth.
Bernie Traurig (me) on Gozzi. This is a pretty typical release I used on my hunters.
Bernie Traurig (me) on Super Hill. I like the soft contact for control and the subtle look the short crest release offers while still allowing your horse to jump its best.
Bernie Traurig (me) on The Cardinal, reaching a little farther along the neck as it’s a wide jump, but still maintaining a light contact. It’s not a following hand as the hands are pressing a bit on the neck for balance due to the loss of my lower leg position.
Bernie Traurig (me) on Springdale. A very typical picture of a classic short crest release.
Rodney Jenkins. A very classic photo showing the subtlety of the short crest release when done perfectly.
Louise Serio. A lovely short crest release allowing for a beautiful jump while still retaining control with the lightest of contact.
Bernie Traurig (me) on Royal Blue. This Thoroughbred horse could be strong, so a bit firmer contact while still placing the hands forward enough for a good jump was the trick.