This rider has a very good leg, but she doesn’t have enough angle behind the knee; I’d like her to shorten her stirrup a hole. That angle should be about 100–110 degrees maximum. Once you start reaching for your stirrups, you risk compensating by jumping ahead—you feel you have to jump for your horse—because you have no hinges that can open and close.
Because the stirrup is too long, she is jumping ahead slightly—her buttock should be closer to the saddle. Her posture is good, her eyes are looking up. For the level, we don’t want this long release. It is very elementary riding with hands halfway up the neck, though overreleasing is better than not giving enough. But her hands are floating above the neck. The point of a crest release is to give the upper body support. She needs to work with a short release and she also could start to practice the automatic release.
This is a cute horse with his knees up. He’s more of a pony type with a short neck, though he’s not short behind the saddle, indicating scope. Judging from the condition of his coat, he’s healthy, but he’s not turned out well. The whites on his hind legs should be whiter, and his mane is all over the place. It should be pulled a little wider than the width of a man’s hand so it can be braided easily. I also prefer it to stay on the right side of the neck. I’m not crazy about white bits. If I see one, I think the horse has a mouth problem. I’ll use a black rubber snaffle.
The rider is turned out nicely with her hair up in the helmet. As most readers know by now, I really dislike these black stirrups. I don’t think they’re an improvement because they’re too light and don’t help anchor the leg and heel. They’re hard to retrieve if you lose them and ugly as hell.
This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.