This elementary rider also needs to twist the outside branch of the stirrup iron forward. More importantly, she has lost her leg back, so it needs to be stabilized, which is harder to do on this type of narrow, slab-sided horse. In two-point over crossrails, the rider needs to work on keeping her leg and heel down. She doesn’t have a long way to go, though, because her heel is down, her ankle is flexed and her toes are out. Her knee is acting like a pivot: As her leg swings back, her seat and upper body fall forward and she jumps ahead. You can’t correct the upper body without correcting the leg, so she first needs to work on that.
She has beautiful posture with eyes up and ahead and a flat back. For this level, she is showing an excellent elementary long release with a loose rein. Her hands are halfway up the horse’s neck and she’s grabbing a pinch of mane. This ensures that she doesn’t grab the horse’s mouth. Everyone can use this release without apologizing. This is how I work with colts and school green horses to start getting them to think for themselves as they jump and not be dependent on my support all the time.
This is a low jump, which could be why this mare is showing very little technique. Her knees are up but uneven, and she’s very loose below them. Her head is up and her back is flat. Over a bigger jump or with a professional rider, she might use herself better.
For this mare’s type, she’s in good weight. She’s well groomed, clean and braided with about 15 braids. Today’s fancy hunters have 40–50 braids, which I like but it’s not necessary. The rider is well turned out. She has a safety stirrup, where the outside branch is replaced by a rubber band so it can break, something I advocate for less-advanced riders.
This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of Practical Horseman.