This is quite a good rider who strikes me as a rising professional. Her leg is excellent, with her heel down, ankle flexed, calf snug and stirrup correctly placed across her foot. Some might say that her lower leg has slipped back a bit, but I am not bothered as she is clearly both tight and effective.
Her base of support is OK, but she needs to be on guard against dropping back into her saddle too early. Her buttocks are very close to her saddle, and if she drops her seat at the apex of the jump, her horse's back is punished.
Her posture?her back and shoulders?is correct, and her head is up. I think her eyes would be up, too, but the photographer seems to have caught her blinking.
I never mind seeing a rider grab mane, as that is far preferable to grabbing the horse in his mouth. However, I should not be able to see her right hand crossing over the left side of her horse's neck. If her horse drifts right, she should use a left opening rein and right leg to correct him, rather than trying to neck-rein a correction.
This horse has an uneven front end, which is a shame because he is a round and powerful jumper. However, as this rider is much more advanced than the novices earlier in this column, she might be able to sharpen him up. She should jump him over small verticals and parallel oxers, on circles and figure eights, to get him into the habit of jerking both his front legs high. The gag bit indicates that he might be heavy in front and hard to balance, so that probably increases his tendency to land and use her hand as a fifth leg. She might experiment with different bits to help lighten him, but she should take care not to overflex him or ride him too low.
This horse is in good weight, but the turnout on him and his rider is rather rustic and without polish. They are prepared for a working session only.
This article originally appeared in the June 2008 issue of Practical Horseman magazine. Is this photo of you? Email Practical.Horseman@EquiNetwork.com, and we'll identify you!