Our first rider has a solid position. Her heel is down, her ankle is flexed and her calf is in contact with her mount’s side. Her toes are turned out the maximum amount, which creates a viselike position. It’s a bit of an outdated look but OK for cross country. For dressage, hunters or jumpers, the toes should be turned in a little more for a suppler, softer leg. Her stirrup is the correct length.
The horse’s jumping thrust has thrown her out of the saddle just the right amount. She is not jumping ahead, but she is dropping back just a little in the air. At the apex of the horse’s arc, her hip angle is opening and her upper body is starting to straighten too early. This is not because of her technique but possibly because her horse is jumping way over the fence or because of her weight; she is top heavy. Her posture is very good with her eyes up.
She is using a short crest release with her hands resting 2 to 3 inches up and alongside the crest and a soft, slack rein. Very few riders today have a ruler-straight line from the elbow to the horses’ mouth, called an automatic release.
This is an adorable large pony or small horse. He wants to be round, dropping his head and neck and using his back. He has a beautiful front end. His knees are up by his chin, and he is tight below them. He is very conscientious and respectful of the fence.
The roached mane is unusual but he looks clean and well cared for. I like the stainless-steel stirrup irons for safety because they’re heavy and don’t slip; for efficiency because they’re the best iron to teach riders to have an educated leg; and for appearance—they’re just more beautiful. I do not like the square yellow saddle pad. Overall, this is a very cute partnership. The horse and rider suit each other well.
This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.