Eventers today emphasize knee and thigh grip, but the most secure grip involves the inner thigh, the inner knee bone and the calf. Pinching with the knee and thigh excessively, without having enough contact in the calf, pushes the rider’s upper body away from the horse’s back and pushes the leg away from the rib cage. This rider’s leg looks beautiful, but I can see a slight knee pinch. She can correct it first at the standstill by relaxing the upper leg and distributing equal contact between the inner thigh, the inner knee and the calf; then she can carry that feeling over to the walk, trot and canter. Otherwise, her heel is down and her ankle is flexed. The stirrup iron is correctly angled across the ball of the foot so it is at a right angle to the girth with the little toe touching the outside branch. The stirrup leather is beautifully perpendicular to the ground.
This rider is letting the horse’s thrust throw her seat out of the saddle just enough. She has a little bit of a roach in her back. She needs to practice stretching her spine in transitions on the flat, which will help make the hands and legs more powerful. Her excellent hands are yielding yet maintaining contact. She almost has a straight line from her elbow to the horse’s mouth in an automatic release, which is a good exercise to practice and improve balance.
The rider galloped and left from a long distance, a timesaver that is fine for this type of coop fence. The long distance caused the horse to have a flat trajectory—from the poll to the dock of the tail is almost a straight line. He appears to have a good front end with his knees up and even. He’s a lovely horse.
He looks as if he is beautifully cared for as does the tack. With conservative colors, the rider’s attire is way better than most eventers. She’s a class act.
This article originally appeared in the February 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.