This rider has a good leg but minor adjustments would make it even better. The stirrup iron could be a hair more toward the toe for improved suppleness, but it is angled correctly so that the little toe touches the outside branch. Her toe is out, her ankle is flexed and her calf is in contact with her horse’s side. If I were teaching her, I possibly would shorten the stirrup a hole because her seat is quite far out of the saddle and the angle behind her knee is too large. This type of jumping ahead is usually the result of too long a stirrup, where the rider can’t press her foot against the iron for support so she has to push herself out of the saddle. Most people ride on the flat with too short a stirrup and jump with too long a stirrup. Every time I ride, I put them down on the flat and up to jump.
Her eyes are looking up and ahead, but her posture needs work: Her lower back is roached, which often goes together with a long stirrup. If you read Brig. Gen. Harry D. Chamberlin’s work, you learn that if one part of the body is mechanically wrong, other parts will be affected. She is using a long crest release with her hands a little less than halfway up the neck. She’s giving her horse plenty of freedom to use his head and neck and supporting her upper body with her hands. The rider is relaxed, strong and tight, but she could be an even more beautiful rider with a few adjustments.
This is a nice horse. He doesn’t have his knees up by his chin, but they are parallel and symmetrical. He has a flat, stiff back but he’s compensated for it by jumping high. I’d love to jump him.
She has groomed him beautifully. He is very clean. Personally, I like a bit more spit and polish—I don’t love the saddle pad and his mane is a little long. And I don’t care for the black stirrup irons because I think they are harder to regain if you lose them.
This article appeared in the October 2016 issue of Practical Horseman.