Overall: This is one of the most pleasing photos I’ve seen while critiquing this column. Judging from the size of the fence, this rider is not that advanced in terms of level, but she has beautiful basics. With them, I think she will be able to move up the ranks soon.
Leg: The angle of her ankle is correct with her heel down, and her knee is more relaxed than the first two riders. This helps to keep a solid base of support.
Seat/Upper body: The correct leg position allows her seat to be thrown slightly out of the saddle by the horse’s jump. Her back is not perfectly flat, but it’s relaxed.
Release: This rider’s balanced position allows her to use an automatic release, which is more advanced than the crest release. In this release, her hands are lower down the crest of the horse’s neck—there is almost a straight line from the bit to her hand to her elbow. This gives the horse the freedom to jump and the rider a light contact in the air so she can maintain more control than is possible with the crest release.
Horse: The horse has a beautiful style, matching the look of the rider. He has a great expression, and he is using his head, neck and back well. His knees are even, and his forearms are parallel to the ground.
Turnout: The turnout is really good. The horse is clean, his tack is well-fitted and the saddle pad is white. The rider’s clothing fits well. The only thing that could be improved is that her boots could be shinier.
Beezie Madden captured Olympic show-jumping team gold medals in 2004 as well as 2008, where she also earned the individual bronze medal, all riding Authentic. She won the FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in 2013 with Simon and in 2018 with Breitling LS. Other accolades include an Olympic team silver medal in 2016 riding Cortes ‘C’, with whom she also took World Equestrian Games team and individual bronze medals. She won the prestigious 2019 CP ‘International’ at CSIO Spruce Meadows and was voted the 2019 USEF International Equestrian of the Year. She and her husband, John, are based out of John Madden Sales in Cazenovia, New York.
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of Practical Horseman.