If you look carefully at this rider’s leg, you’ll see that there is some pinch in the knee and upper leg—her calf is not really on the horse. Because of this incorrect grip, her lower leg has slipped back a bit. She needs to make sure there is equal contact among her thigh, inner knee bone and calf, and that she is pushing weight down into her heels. She can practice these things on the flat and over small crossrails.
Her seat is excellent. There is no hint that she is jumping ahead of the pommel or behind. Her posture is exemplary—she has a flat back with a slight concavity to the loins just above the belt area. This is an example of a short release—she’s moved her hands about 2 inches up the horse’s neck and they are resting on it for support. She’s advanced enough to try the automatic release where the hands are lower, separated and off the horse’s neck, which requires a great deal of rider balance. With that release, there is a straight line from the rider’s elbow to the horse’s mouth. You maintain a following contact—what the horse takes, the rider gives, no more, no less. That is an art.
I’d like to see how this horse is jumping a split second earlier so he is over the apex of the fence. At this point, he’s very loose-legged and hanging and he’s just stepping over this fence. But the horse and rider turnout is beautiful. The horse is scrupulously cleaned and groomed, his mane and tail have been braided. Though I don’t care for the platform irons because I don’t feel they give you the best support, the rider’s turnout is very workmanlike—clean, well-fitting and unobtrusive so the attention is on the beauty of the horse, where it should be. I appreciate all of the effort that has gone into a presentation like this.
This article originally appeared in the 2018 Winter issue of Practical Horseman.