This rider has an innate quality and elegance on a horse, but she has a few things to work on. First, her stirrup is too long. The angle behind her knee is about 170 degrees and she’s reaching for her iron. Because she doesn’t have the support of the iron, her angles can’t close as her horse jumps. Instead, she has to catch up with her upper body and ends up jumping ahead—her hip is in front of the saddle and her buttock is high out of it. With her body tipping forward, her knee acts like a pivot, allowing her lower leg to slip back too far. She needs to shorten her stirrup one or two holes. Then as she approaches a fence, she needs to close her legs to go forward when necessary, relax the reins and allow her horse’s thrust to toss her seat out of the saddle. Other than that, from this angle, her leg position is good. Her iron is at a right angle to the girth and crosses the ball of her foot so that the little toe touches the outside branch, which leads the inside. Her heel is down and her ankle is flexed.
Her crest release is between short and long, but her reins are a little short, which also contributes to jumping ahead. If she corrects her leg, in two months she might be ready to practice an automatic release—lowering her hands to create a straight line to the horse’s mouth. She has beautiful posture, and she’s looking up and ahead though it feels a little posed—like she’s had “eyes up” drilled into her and she’s overdoing it a little.
The horse has a cute, very conscientious expression with alert ears and eyes. His knees are uneven and he’s not symmetrical. I suspect he might hang his legs if he got deep to a fence.
He appears well groomed—it can be difficult to keep the white areas clean like this. I think he might need to be trimmed at the coronet. For eventers, this pair is turned out conservatively, which I like.
This column was originally published in Practical Horseman's December 2016 issue.