#MasterclassMonday is a collaboration between Horse Network and NOELLEFLOYD.com to empower equestrians to help troubleshoot your training, master your mindset and up your game. This month’s instructor: show jumping trainer Jasmin Stair.

We’ve all been told our entire riding careers ‘heels down, eyes up’, but have you ever actually taken the time to sit back and ask why?

There’s no question that having your heels down creates a better sense of balance and stability in the saddle. This has been the foundation of a riding position for decades and allows riders to create a better, stronger position. As far as the advice for ‘eyes up’ are concerned, there is a lot more we can break down when it comes to this concept.

Subconsciously, when a rider’s eyes are looking up and ahead this allows their upper body to become more upright. Think about it. If you’re looking down, it’s only natural for your upper body to fall forward and your shoulders to shrug. The same concept holds true on the flip side. When a rider is looking forward, their shoulders draw back and down, creating an overall better position. 

This is just the teaser! Learn all things position with Equestrian Masterclass: Jasmin Stair Teaches Small Changes for Big Improvements

Another supporting factor of how a rider keeping their eyes up can be a gamechanger is how it correlates to planning your track. Straightness is necessary for finding the distance, getting the lead change, and setting yourself up for the next jump. If a rider’s eyes are not up and planning ahead these considerations become a lot more difficult. 

Some common mistakes seen in most riders are rushing the turn, looking down, getting nervous, and turning early. An easy way to fix this is to keep glancing at the center of the jump without having your horse come off the rail. When your horse’s nose is at the center of the jump, you then make your square turn. After the jump, balance your horse on the straight line, get the lead change if needed then continue on.  

Not only does looking up and ahead change the way you process track and timing as a rider, but it allows you to take in the details of a situation and simplify them. By going step by step through the basics and perfecting them, you are more likely to improve more efficiently and faster in order to achieve your riding goals. 

This is an excerpt from Jasmin’s Equestrian Masterclass, Small Changes for Big Improvements. To access the course, as well as a full library of courses from the likes of Ian Millar, Anne Kursinski and more, go to equestrianmasterclass.com.