This rider uses the exaggerated leg position that I was taught: with an extremely pronounced turning out of the toe, a very sunken heel, and plenty of contact through the lower leg. It’s a leg I like, and I wouldn’t penalize it?but there are judges who would, preferring the softer look of today’s leg with the toe out no more than 45 degrees.
What I do see as a flaw in her form is her base of support: We see a seat and thigh much too far out of the saddle, making her vulnerable to a fall. She needs to wait for her horse’s thrust to close her hip angle and lift her buttock out of the saddle. Correcting her flaw is a matter of breaking a bad habit; I see no other reason (such as a too-long stirrup or set hands) that would make her jump ahead. Her teacher could check to see if her shortish release is contributing to her jumping ahead, but I don’t think it is.
That short release is very well done, with a light contact and her hand pressing into her horse’s crest. Her back is flat and supple, and her head and eyes are up.
Her striking horse’s textbook front end couldn’t be prettier. His knees are up, square, and tight; his back is round; and he’s really using his head and neck. If this is his typical form, he could win at any show in the country.
Both horse and rider look workmanlike and capable, with everything clean and conservative. Nothing about their appearance detracts from their performance. (I don’t even mind the safety stirrups.)
Reprinted from the April 2004 issue of Practical Horseman magazine. Is this photo of you? Email [email protected], and we’ll identify you!