Our fourth rider is very stylish. She has a nearly impeccable leg, but I would like to refine a few things. For suppleness and aesthetic purposes, I’d like to move the stirrup iron a little closer to the toe. When the iron is back this far, a rider loses flexibility of the ankle; about one-quarter of the foot should be in the stirrup. Her heels are down, the toes are turned out, her leg is just behind the girth and her calf is on the horse. Her stirrup is a little short with too much angle in the knee between her calf and thigh. The angle is close to 90 degrees and should be more like 100 to 110 degrees. I’d like her to drop it about a hole. But riding with too short a stirrup is better than riding with one that’s too long.
This is what a rider should look like in the air. She’s with her horse—not ahead of him or behind him. Her back is flat and her eyes are looking up and ahead. She’s approaching an automatic release, and I like the independence of her hand. She doesn’t need to rest on the crest of her horse’s neck for balance, and she’ll have more control on landing. If she fixes the little details I’ve mentioned, she’ll be a superstar.
This horse has a good expression with his ears up. He’s got a beautiful texbook front end. His forearm is parallel to the ground and his knees are even and pointing up. Below the knees, he’s very tight. He’s not a particularly round jumper—not really up in his withers and cracking his back. He could be beaten by a horse who has a great arc, if everything else were equal, but it would take effort to place over him. He’s a very showy chestnut with lots of chrome—a big white blaze and at least one white leg. Both he and his rider are beautifully turned out. There’s not a braid out of place. The tack and riding pad are clean and fit well, and the rider is impeccably groomed.
This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.