With her very secure lower leg?heel down and absorbing the weight of her body, ankle flexed, toe out, lower leg resting on her horse’s side?this rider looks as if she’ll stay in place no matter what.
While her back is flat and her eyes and head are up, her buttocks are just a shade too far out of the saddle, showing she’s anticipated her horse’s effort slightly. Especially with his heavy-in-front build, she needs to make a conscious effort not to overburden his front end, but to sit back and let his jumping thrust lift her out of the saddle as much as she needs.
Here we have a crest release that is much too high; the hands should rest on the crest, below the “seam” where the musculature of the neck begins to round out. The purpose of a crest release is to provide support for a rider’s upper body; a rider accomplished enough not to need that support should use an automatic release, with the reins in a straight line from bit to elbow.
Her sweet-faced horse is using his head and neck to the best of his ability, but he’s fighting his conformation. With his thick throat and neck and massive shoulder, he’ll always have difficulty rounding up and basculing over a fence. He probably gives the sensation of galloping downhill at his fences, rather than traveling to and over and around them.
The horse is lean and neatly attired, with a saddle pad so white and fluffy it’s blinding. The rider, too, is turned out with polish?but once again, small details make the picture perfect: This pair would look sharper if the horse’s tail were braided and if the excess stirrup leather length had been trimmed.
Reprinted from the December 1993 issue of Practical Horseman magazine. Is this photo of you? Email [email protected], and we’ll identify you!