This rider’s basics are very good. Her heels are well down, her toes are out and her ankles are flexed. Her leg has slipped back just a little, but it’s refreshing to see that she has a short enough stirrup for jumping. The angle behind her knee is close to 90 degrees, which is appropriate. Often you see people riding with stirrups that are too long. I like the stainless-steel, heavy-duty stirrup irons this rider has. The others are too light and don’t help people ride better. If I found a piece of riding equipment that improved my riding, I would use it, but the black ones don’t do this.
Her seat is out of the saddle yet close enough that she’s not jumping ahead. In her belt area, there’s a small roach. I don’t want a swayback, but I have to note that it is a fault. Her eyes are up. She’s using a long crest release, which you can use with or without grabbing mane. This helps teach that the hands push, they don’t pull back, which is why we grab mane when learning—to learn to push rather than to pull. It’s a very appropriate release for this rider’s age.
The horse has a nice expression with his eyes and ears and he’s probably a saintly soul, but he has a poor front end. His right front leg is hanging. This could be the result of having to reach so much because the ground line in front of the fence has been pulled too far out. It’s dangerous because some horses might think they have to jump the pole and put their feet down between the pole and the front of the fence.
The horse’s weight is OK, but his coat doesn’t seem exceptionally clean. I’d like to see his mane braided. The saddle pad and tack fit nicely. The rider’s turnout is OK. Her coat looks a tad too big, but her attire looks clean.
This article originally appeared in the August 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.