Our last rider needs to correct her stirrup iron so the outside branch is angled ahead of the inside branch. Her heel is up and her lower leg has slipped back. When a leg with a spur swings back, it hits the horse and becomes an active leg, which affects security. The rider needs to correct the position of her stirrup, get up in two-point contact and drop the weight in her heels.
Her seat is slightly high, which is a form of jumping ahead. I’d like to see her buttock closer to the saddle. She has very good posture, but she’s slightly ducking over the horse’s neck, throwing herself a bit. I’d like to see her seat lower and chest higher.
She is attempting a crest release, but her hands are high above the crest. As the horse jumps, she’s lifting her hands, going against his mouth instead of following it. This creates a very broken line from her elbow to the horse’s mouth. The hands need to be alongside the crest of the neck, pressing into it for support. Her eyes are looking up and ahead.
The horse’s knees are up, though they’re a little uneven and he’s not symmetrical below them. He’s jumping a little hollow and stiff. I can’t see the bit, but I wonder if it’s a gag. Horses often are reluctant to drop their heads in gag bits. They’re tricky because you have to release at just the right time or a horse will become hollow over the fences.
The horse appears to be healthy and clean. For a jumper class, he doesn’t need to be braided. I don’t like the colorful head bonnet. I’m not a fan of bonnets in general because riders use them to prevent noise from distracting a horse. But a horse needs to be well schooled to pay attention to his rider and the aids, not the outside environment. I’d also like a fitted pad or a smaller baby pad.
This article originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.