This young rider has a good stirrup length. Because of this, her leg position is very good, with her heel down and her calf on her pony's side. She does need to reposition her iron so that it is closer to her toe and angled diagonally across the ball of her foot, which will allow her heel to drop even more. This also will keep her from pushing against her iron and opening her knee angle while she gets a bit too far out of the saddle, which she is doing here. While the fault is slight in this photo, she is jumping ahead, and this is a habit that needs to be corrected.
Her posture is excellent, and her use of her eyes is correct. Her release is good, with her hand pressing into her pony's neck for support, but I'd like to see her use a slightly longer rein?there is tension in her pony's lips, ?although he is well able to use her head and neck. All in all, this is a young rider who has been taught good basics and is off to a good start.
This strikes me as a lot of pony for such a small rider, but they seem to be working together well. The pony is powerful jumper with a beautiful front end, a quality head and a lovely expression.
Both pony and rider are classily turned out. Two things that would improve the picture even more: (1) ?The rider could really oil and ride in her new-looking saddle so that it is not slippery, and (2) I'd like to see this pony carry more weight if it can be done without changing his disposition. Long-backed, narrow-waisted horses can look too lean, as this pony does here.
This article originally appeared in the March 2008 issue of Practical Horseman magazine. Is this photo of you? Email Practical.Horseman@EquiNetwork.com, and we'll identify you!