Our second rider also has an excellent leg position. The stirrup is at a right angle to the girth, but it is too far out on her toe, making it easy to lose. It should cross the ball of the foot with about a quarter of the foot in the stirrup. The leather is correctly perpendicular to the ground, and her heels are down, her ankles are flexed and her toes are out. There is the correct angle behind her knee, indicating the leather is the right length. She has been tossed out of the saddle just the right amount.
Her posture is also fine with eyes up and ahead. Her back looks as if it’s bordering on roached, so on the flat she should work on stretching her spine. This is a better short crest release than the first rider’s because the hands are alongside the crest of the horse—she’s not lifting them. There is a broken line from the elbow to the horse’s mouth, which is acceptable.
The horse is quite scopey and looks careful. He’s got a great front end with his knees up and perfectly even, though he could be a little tighter below them. He is a little flat from head to tail. The short standing martingale restricts a horse’s topline and encourages stiffness, so I would put him in a long running martingale. When a horse jumps flat, it’s his natural way of jumping, but you can try to encourage him to be rounder. Follow his mouth with your hands and stay forward with your upper body. Do nothing to interfere with his arc and cause him to get defensive and inhibited about using himself. Having said this, I don’t want to insinuate that this rider is doing any of that because this is a good pair.
For jumpers, the horse is very well turned out. He appears clean and well groomed. Possibly his mane is a little too long. I’m not crazy about the current fashion of the rider’s boots with the high outside leg.
This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of Practical Horseman.