This rider does not have enough angle behind the knee. Hers is about 120 to 130 degrees and it should be about 100 degrees. So she needs to shorten her stirrup by one or two holes so her leg is more in contact with her horse’s sides. Despite this, she has a very good leg. It’s slipped back on this narrow horse but a shorter stirrup also would help that. Sinjon, my partner at the 1960 Rome Olympics, was narrow, and I always had to ride with a short stirrup leather on him. When a horse is wider, you can ride with a slightly longer stirrup.
This rider has a good base of support. She’s out of the saddle, not jumping ahead or back, which is surprising because many riders with a long stirrup do jump ahead. Like our previous rider, this rider’s back is a little soft, but it’s not too bad. She’s looking, and hopefully turning, left. Her crest release is faulty because her hands are too high above the neck rather than pushing into it for support. The purpose of a crest release is so the rider can be sure to push, not pull, with her hands.
The horse has a nice expression. He might be careful and fast, but he’s not a very good jumper. His legs are uneven, and from his poll to the dock of his tail, he’s flat, almost upside-down. Instead, a horse’s back should look like an upside-down U. This horse’s topline might be better, which would help his legs, if the rider shortened her stirrup and lowered her hand so she doesn’t risk hitting him in the back and interfering with his mouth.
The horse is well groomed, and I like the braids. The saddle pad is very big. Being able to see the white straps of the pad over the girth is not that attractive. Even if they’re doing the jumpers, I’d like to see a more fitted pad.
This article originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.