This stylish, elegant rider has an old-fashioned leg. Her foot is jammed on the inside of the stirrup iron, and her heel is very far down with the foot turned out. It’s a secure position, but it’s not supple or soft. She needs to reposition the stirrup so her little toe touches the outside stirrup branch and the iron crosses her foot at an angle. The iron, not the rider’s foot, should be at a right angle to the girth. Also her stirrup is too long. The angle where her calf and thigh come together is about 130 degrees; it should be between 90 and 110 degrees. She needs to shorten the leather by a hole. When a rider reaches for her stirrup, she does not have the support and springs to accompany the horse over the fence, so instead she must jump ahead. In this case, the rider is jumping ahead, which I can tell because her seat is a little too high out of the saddle.
She has a beautiful back—it’s not stiff or exaggerated—and her eyes are up. She’s using more of a long release, but her hands are floating above the crest a little. I want to see them pressing into the crest to support her upper body. She’s well up to trying an automatic release. To do this, she needs to lower her hands about 6 inches so that there is a straight line from her elbow to the horse’s mouth, which allows for the best communication with the horse.
The horse’s knees are up and he’s very even with his forearms. He’s a little uneven below the knees but he’s safe. He’s a very hollow, flat jumper. From his poll to the dock of his tail is actually inverted, making more of a U shape.
He is beautifully turned out. His gray coat is scrupulously clean. His mane and forelock are braided. The rider’s attire is conservative, clean and well fitting. They look ready to impress.
This article originally appeared in the August 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.