Our final rider’s heels are down, her ankles are flexed and her toes are out a little more than the maximum of 45 degrees. It’s a bit of an old-fashioned leg that doesn’t bother me, but it looks a little out of date. Her leg has slipped back a bit. For this height fence, she could possibly go up a hole in her stirrup length for a more secure leg.
She has an exemplary seat. It is out of the saddle just enough. Her posture is beautiful. Her eyes are looking in the direction that she is moving. Her back is flat. She’s using a crest release and looking in the direction of the turn. She’ll have to wait until the horse is finished jumping to actually turn. This is where an automatic release, where there is a straight line from the rider’s elbow to the horse’s mouth, would be even better because she could begin to turn her horse in the air using an opening rein without interfering with his mouth. This release is much more work to develop for riders than the crest release because they can’t lean on the neck for support. This rider could practice it over crossrails.
The horse has an attentive expression with his ears forward. His legs are almost symmetrical with the left one just a little higher. He is jumping flat with a high poll and low in the withers and croup. He’s a little stiff and hollow. To soften him up, when schooling, she could do a lot of turns left and right when jumping and ask him to lengthen and shorten his stride.
The horse’s coat looks healthy and in good shape. For A-list turnout perfection, the rider could polish his feet and polish her boots so they shine. Her attire looks neat and tidy.
This article originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.