This rider’s leg has swung back and is not stable, jeopardizing her security—if the horse stops, she could fall off. In this position, her leg is also unintentionally telling the horse to speed up. This is possibly happening because her stirrup is too long—the angle behind her knee looks too open. I suggest she shorten it a hole for jumping. Her stirrup iron is correctly angled forward, but her foot is too far home in the iron. She needs to move it forward so that about one-quarter of it is in the iron. This will help her get her heel down and allow for a more supple leg.
Once the stirrup is shortened and her foot is properly in the iron, this rider needs to practice keeping her leg in the correct position with her calf in contact with the horse’s sides at the walk, trot, canter and then over crossrails before she can make it a habit over a course.
Her base of support is excellent. She’s out of the saddle and there is no sign of her jumping ahead or dropping behind. She’s not as athletic as I’d like, giving her a rather dowdy, roached back. Her eyes are up and looking ahead. She’s got an excellent short release: The reins are slack and moved up the neck a couple of inches.
The horse is very cute. He’s a little loose below the knees, but he’s very symmetrical and his forearm is parallel to the ground. He also jumps rather flat. He is wearing a standing martingale, which is acceptable with beginners, though she could move on to a running martingale. The horse is also in a ring bit that is popular now. It puts upward pressure on the mouth and downward pressure on the poll. They aren’t very good to use for slow work because they prevent horses from bending in the poll and prohibit suppleness.
The horse is very clean but they are very casually turned out and I’m not crazy about the green of the shirt and polos and the greenish tinge to the saddle pad.
This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Practical Horseman
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