Comparing effective form for show-ring riders with that of riders out foxhunting or eventing is always interesting. While their form doesn’t always line up with hunter-seat equitation standards, there are generally, as in this photo, points of intersection and reasons for divergence.
The rider, who is negotiating a drop fence, has a wonderfully secure leg: glued in place near the girth, and in light contact from calf through thigh. His foot would be too far home in the stirrup for most ring riding, but here its position gives him security, acting as a brace as he heads downhill. His heel, too, would want lowering in the ring, but here is shows enough depth to indicate effectiveness, although his foot and ankle position limit the amount it is lowered.
In a show ring, this rider’s seat position would be much too close to the saddle, on the verge of dropping back, but here it reflects his ability to keep from pitching forward and overwhelming his horse’s front end as they head down toward the ground. His upper-body position, and his eyes looking between his horse’s ears for a safe landing spot, are all in harmony with the horse’s effort. The very slight roach in his lower back is typical of event riders, who often tire and show their weariness in this way as they drive forward into each fence.
This man’s ideal long crest release could serve as a model for equitation riders from coast to coast. His hands are on the crest, not floating above it, and supporting his weight. His rein has generous slack that in no way compromises his control.
This rangy, light horse is the picture of breeding. His quality and intelligence shine out, and while I can’t tell from this photo what form he’d show in a ring, he’s a lovely animal.
I’m not a fan of the brightly colored outfits worn in the eventing world, but this gentleman is color-coordinated, neat, and efficient-looking. His boots gleam with polish, and his horse’s spotless gray coat testifies to hours of loving attention.
This article originally appeared in the May 1994 issue of Practical Horseman magazine.