Overall I like our first rider, but she needs some adjustments. She has just the tip of her toe in the stirrup and, going cross country, she could lose it in a heartbeat. For this discipline, you want to have at least of a quarter of the foot in the stirrup for secure support. The iron is almost at right angles to the girth and the outside branch is a little ahead of the inside branch.
She is gripping with her knee a little. The French leg, where the contact is distributed between the inner thigh, the inner knee bone and the calf, is infinitely better because it puts you around the horse. You have a better chance of not falling off if you envelop him with the correct contact. She needs to shorten her stirrups a hole and work on the flat to distribute the contact evenly over the three areas of her leg.
She is in a hint of a chair seat: Her buttock is too far back in the saddle and her leg is a little forward. I sense it’s because she rides this way on the flat and it has crept into her jumping. She needs to ride with the horse’s motion on the flat. I wouldn’t change the chair seat in this moment, but I want her to realize that she is not over her base of support. Her posture is good. Her eyes are up and ahead. She’s demonstrating a beautiful classic short release.
This horse has a nice expression and seems like a good soul. He’s very good with his front legs and his knees, which is one of the first qualities for a horse jumping fixed fences. But he’s jumping quite hollow and stiff. She is riding with some kind of kimberwick, which I like on a strong horse.
As for his care, I would give a grade of C. His coat is dull. There has been an attempt at pulling his mane. Her turnout is OK, but I detest hair like this. It should be tucked under her helmet.
This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.