This rider’s heel is down too far, her toes are turned out too far and the contact in her calf is grippy, but that’s all right. A lot of people might criticize a leg like this, but I don’t because you easily can modify position issues like this. She’s off to a good start. To fix it, she needs to ride without stirrups on the flat and over low fences, relaxing her leg a little. I’d also like to see her little toe touching the outside branch of the stirrup, which allows for a more supple leg. In addition, the stirrup length is a little long. The angle between her thigh and calf borders on 130 degrees—it should be no more than 110 degrees—and she’s reaching for her stirrup. This would be an appropriate length for working on the flat, where you want longer stirrups.
Though the stirrup is too long, which often causes riders to jump ahead, this rider’s seat is exemplary. Her loins are hollow and her eyes are looking up and ahead. She is using a good short crest release.
This horse is cute with a good expression and he (it might be a mare but I’m not sure) seems to suit the rider, but he doesn’t have a good front end. The right knee is lower than the left and he’s loose below the knees. A horse can be loose below the knees if the knees are dead even. He is doing OK over this rampy oxer, but I’m suspicious that he would struggle over a tall vertical. He also is hollow. From the poll to the dock of the tail is upside down instead of making a round bascule.
The horse is well groomed, and I like the saddle pad and tack and the rider’s clothes. Everything is clean and fits well. For additional polish, I’d like the rider to learn how to braid the mane, which should be done in all judged hunter and equitation classes, even at small local shows.
This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.