Our first rider’s leg has slipped back over this low fence. As a consequence, her heel has come up and she has lost her security. When this happens, the leg can inadvertently become a strong aid telling the horse to go forward when that might not be what the rider wants. From this rider’s expression, I can see that she is a little apprehensive. To fix her leg—and her security—she needs to return to crossrails, riding 10 to 15 in a row, and focus on keeping her heel down and leg stabilized.
Despite her leg problems, this rider’s base of support is excellent. Her seat is slightly out of the saddle—just enough. I like her upper body. She has a beautiful posture with hollow loins. She is using more of a long release, where her hands are pressing into the crest of the horse’s neck.
This is a showy chestnut with a lot of white. He has a nice expression with space between his eyes and biggish ears. He doesn’t have a good front end. Even with all of these ground lines, his left leg is hanging and his right leg is not really tight. He’s what I call a “hanger.” Plus he’s a little twisted and very flat. From the poll to the dock of the tail, there is practically a straight line. He has very little bascule. He appears to be a pleasant sort, and at this height, he’s all right, but if he were ridden to a short distance over bigger fences, his form could be terrible and he might even be unsafe. I’d be reluctant to take him across country over fixed fences, even low ones.
The dark photo makes assessing turnout hard, but it appears average. I don’t see any shine to the horse’s coat. For equitation or hunter classes, no matter how small the show or low the jumps, the horse’s mane and forelock should be braided. The rider is dressed appropriately in clean, conservative attire.
This article originally appeared in the August 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.