Our third rider’s leg is quite good, but it’s a little braced out in front of her with a deep heel. I’d like to see the stirrup iron at a right angle to the girth and her little toe just feeling the outside branch for a suppler leg. Then on the flat and over low fences, she can work on bringing it behind the girth a little more.
Her base of support is excellent. Her buttocks are slightly out of the saddle—ideal for this size spread fence—and she is not jumping ahead. Her upper body is beautiful. You can see the difference of this rider’s lower back from the previous two. She has a slight hollow in her loins, making it textbook perfect. Her eyes are up and ahead. The only thing that mars her crest release is her open fingers. She needs to close them but keep a relaxed feel.
The horse looks like a cute jumper who is quick but careful and fast. His knees are up, though he’s a little loose below them, and he does not have much bascule. If you took a ruler from his poll to his withers to his tail, you’d see that he’s quite flat.
The turnout is fine. Again, I’d prefer both of the saddle pads to be a conservative white or at least the same color. The orange saddle looks like it needs to be cleaned and oiled to break it in a little more. I don’t use head bonnets on my horses unless it is buggy. Rather than rely on a crutch like a bonnet, I work to condition my horses to ignore noise and outside distractions like dogs, the loudspeaker, a spectator with an umbrella. The horse should pay attention to two things only: the rider’s aids and his own self-preservation at the jump—not the environment.
This article originally appeared in the January 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.