This rider has a very good leg. Her stirrup is on the ball of her foot, her ankle is elastic and supple, her heel is down and in, and her stirrup leather is hanging straight down. In this position, she can use her leg to brace herself against any shock or against a horse that’s pulling, and her heel has enough flexibility for use as an aid. Her stirrup length is fine, and her base of support is excellent.
The slight roach in her lower back comes from suppleness; it isn’t really a fault. A lot of professional riders show this sort of back.
The rider is turned out for the cross-country phase of an event. With a gag bit, I’d recommend a second pair of reins, passing through the bit ring and a pulley. If a rein broke here, the bit would fall out of the horse’s mouth.
This horse is picture-perfect with his knees, and the rider is allowing him to be very round with his head, neck, shoulders, and back. He looks cat-like, springy, scopey?all the attributes I want in a jumper.
This article originally appeared in the October 1985 issue of Practical Horseman magazine.