Our first rider’s stirrup length is correct, but her heels need to be lower. She is pressing on her stirrup a little, which brings up the heel. Weight driving down the back of the leg into the heel is what keeps the stirrup in place, which needs to become habit. I suspect that she has too much grip in her knee. She needs to practice distributing the contact evenly among her inner thigh, inner knee and calf first at the walk and then at the trot and canter. It’s not a bad leg but it could be better.
When the heel starts to come up, the knee and thigh start to come up, too, which has pushed this rider slightly above her horse too much. But overall, her base of support is very good. There is no sign that she is jumping ahead or dropping back. Her posture is impeccable, beautifully flat with a slight hollow in the loin, and her eyes are up. She has a very correct crest release. After she corrects her leg, she could practice jumping out of hand by dropping her hand 3–6 inches, creating a straight line from her elbow to the horse’s mouth in the air.
The horse has a very cute head with a good expression. He looks as if he could be a top hunter. His knees are wonderful, up and symmetrical, and he’s tight below them. He’s quite a round jumper. He wants to drop his head and neck and use himself.
The turnout is not my style. A rider’s hair needs to be tucked under the helmet at the very least, and I prefer a hair net. Originally, hair was put up for safety reasons, so it wouldn’t get caught going across country. Also I don’t like the bright bell boots. Whether I’m riding an eventer or show jumper, I want very muted and conservative tack and attire. The less color, the better so the focus is on the horse.
This article originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.