This rider's leg position is wonderful: heel down, ankle flexed, and toe out just enough. The contact is evenly distributed through the thigh, inner knee bone, and calf; as a result, her knee is not pinching, nor is there daylight visible between knee and saddle. Her stirrup is quite short, but that's appropriate on this thrusty jumper over the three-six or three-nine oxer. In any case, short stirrups are to be preferred over the far-too-common long stirrups, which deprive riders of support over fences.
The rider's seat is too far out of the saddle. She needs to wait for her horse to throw her up and out, not pop her seat out as she's doing here. Her back s relaxed and flat, and her eyes are looking to the left?to the next jump.
The crest release is very correct. The rider's hands are alongside the neck, not floating above the crest as I see so often in pictures submitted for this column. With her hands firmly planted on either side of her horse's neck, she's giving herself the support this release was designed to provide. Because she's a good rider, I would suggest that she drop her hands two inches or so and transform this short release into an automatic release.
Although this mare appears to be a useful, thrusty jumper, she's uneven, with her right knee below her left. She should be showing us her best form over this oxer, so I can only assume the problem will be more pronounced over a vertical. Beyond her jumping style, she's a big-headed horse with a short-neck and dull expression. I wouldn't expect much scope or range, given her conformation. (Still, horses can surprise you?this one's build reminds me of Touch of Class.)
The pair is beautifully turned out for either hunter or jumper competition. The gray horse is immaculate, with a good braid job and clean tack. The rider, too, is clean, with clothes that fit well. In jumper competition, I like to see a flash or figure-eight noseband. In the hunter ranks, I prefer a traditional-type hunting breastplate (this looks like a racing breastplate). I also prefer a short, dark, traditional stick, particularly in the hunter class. The loop of this stick appears to be around the rider's wrist which is dangerous?if the stick gets hung up, she'll be unable to let go of it.
Reprinted from the May 2001 issue of Practical Horseman magazine. Is this photo of you? Email Practical.Horseman@EquiNetwork.com, and we'll identify you!