As far as form, this rider is textbook. Her heels are down, her ankles are flexed and her toes are out a shade. Her calf is in contact with the horse. The stirrup leather is almost perpendicular to the ground, though as readers know, I don’t care for the black stirrup irons.
Her base of support is fine. She’s not jumping ahead or dropping back. The loin area, at her belt, is a little convex; it could be flatter. When riders ride a great deal, this can happen, but it’s not attractive or effective in aiding a horse. Her eyes are up. This is a beautiful release. It’s just about an automatic, maybe one quarter of an inch too high. Her hands are alongside the horse’s neck and she’s maintained a light contact with his mouth. It is very classically correct.
The horse, a pinto type, is beautiful. They rarely go the distance in jumping very big fences, but they’re competitive up to 1.45 meters, maybe 1.50 meters. They can be very careful and very fast, and that’s what this one looks like. His knees are pointing down but very little. He’s so tight and even with his whole front end and so high above the jump, I’m not worried about him hanging. His hind end is equally good, square and kicking up. His bascule is not extravagant, but it’s rounder than the previous horse.
The horse’s coat is very glossy and clean, especially impressive because of all that white. He’s in a smaller jumper class, so he doesn’t need to be braided. I would like to see her riding in a coat with a buttoned collar and stainless-steel irons.
As an aside, I think I’ve taught this rider before at a clinic. She is a student of World Cup champion Rich Fellers. Most people admire Rich for his riding, but I’m also very proud of his teaching. He does a good job instilling the basics.
This article originally appeared in the August 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.