Our final rider is an athlete. She has a very solid leg position. I like that the stirrup iron is at a right angle to the girth, which I can tell because the outside branch is slightly ahead of the inside. The stirrup is across the ball of her foot and she is feeling the outside branch with her little toe. Her heels are down while the ankles are flexed, the toes are out and the calves are in contact with the horse’s sides. She has beautifully closed angles. The angle at the ankle is closed, the angle at the back of the knee is about 100 degrees and her hip angle is closed. All this means she has springs. If you don’t have them, you can’t be smooth and move with your horse. I’d like her to ride with a spur. I never ride a jumper without some kind of spur. I have a bag of them in my car.
Her posture and eyes are excellent. She’s bordering on a long release, but it is better placed than this month’s second rider. This rider has her hands placed alongside the neck, not floating above it. I’d like to see her work with a short release or even an automatic release. I like this rider’s good basics. Once you start straying from the basic principles of classic riding, you start to get into safety issues.
This is a cute horse and he jumps well. His knees are up and symmetrical. He’s a long jumper. He’s also a little flat from his poll to the dock of his tail where you see almost a straight line. You often see this over smaller fences—horses don’t have great bascules.
The turnout is average; it’s a little rough and ready. He looks as if he could be groomed a little more to make his coat shine. And it’s a little sun-bleached—he should be in some kind of sheet when he’s out in the sun. Her attire is neat, tidy and conservative but I’d prefer her to be in a coat when competing.
This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.