Five Lessons with Anne Kursinski: Building Awareness for a Better Rider

Middleburg, Va. – Nov. 24, 2020 – Olympic show jumper Anne Kursinski traveled to Middleburg, Virginia Saturday, November 21, to conduct a clinic as a part of the Rutledge Farm Sessions clinic series. Kursinski worked with riders of all levels, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a solid position to better communicate with your horse. Checkout five tips and tricks from Saturday’s clinic!

Anne Kursinski during the 2020 Rutledge Farm Sessions

1. Knotted Reins – During each section of the clinic, Kursinski began by asking riders to tie a knot in their reins. Once their reins were knotted, she asked them to keep their hands ahead of the knot, forcing riders to use a shorter reign, thus creating better contact with their horses and also making riders use a softer arm to follow their horses mouth.

This technique combined with asking riders to drop their stirrups for part of each group’s warmup. She noted that these two exercises offer a very effective, quick correction, and make most rider’s seat and position immediately improve. When riders began jumping she would ask the knot to be even shorter. She commented, “McLain always has short reins but he’s not choking his horse – you need a following arm.”

Kelsey Sullivan with knotted reins no stirrups

2. Counting Strides to Every Jump – Kursinski used several different jumping exercises, asking riders to jump fences on bending lines and change their pace and approach to adjust to different strides.he also asked riders to count out loud when approaching the fences. She asked riders to start counting when they were about eight strides away from each fence, including counting in each line, creating better awareness of their pace and thus being more aware of adjustments they could make within each line.

3. Controlling Your Seat – During the clinic, Kursinski asked riders to use their seat differently for different exercises. When riders picked up their stirrups,she asked that each rider to hold their full seat, noting “You control your seat, not the horse. The horse wants to put you in a less effective position.”

When riders started jumping, she focused on riders having a light seat and light hands to help their horses jump. Kursinski said, “Be in a position that you don’t take away from the horse. They jump better without you! God gave them the ability. Be in a position to help them.”

4. Upside Down Hands – The first group of the day worked on the automatic release using a “driving rein” by turning their hands over and widening their arms, allowing riders to better follow the horse’s mouth. She stressed that riders should not touch the horse’s neck, forcing them to have stronger body control.

Joanna Hagen demonstrating an automatic release

5. Opening Rein – The final exercise during the first group was using an opening rein while maintaining the driving rein to make a figure eight over two fences. The goal was to create greater awareness of the rider’s upper body so that they were not twisting to turn. Riders could not lean on their horse’s neck when they were using the opening rein to turn, thus forcing their upper bodies to remain still and centered and allowing the horse to jump more naturally.

Kursinski concluded, “I have been teaching for a long time, so it is about quickly finding the riders’ weaknesses to give them some tools and exercises that can help with their awareness. I think that is so important. In our short amount of time, my goal is to get them to try to change something or improve something and it’s rewarding when they feel more confident afterwards by having a few new tools to take home.”

Footage from Kursinski’s Rutledge Farm Session will soon be available on the USEF network. Rutledge Farm is proud to bring on-demand access to all of the Rutledge Farm Sessions thanks to USEF Network. Using the code ‘Rutledge 19’, all 2019-2020 clinics can be accessed from the comfort of your home for free!

For more information about the Rutledge Farm Sessions click here.

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