Our first rider’s leg is nearly impeccable, though her stirrup iron is a trifle too close to her toe. A good reference is to have about one-quarter of the foot in the iron. The stirrup is angled forward across the ball of the foot correctly and at a right angle to the girth with her little toe touching the outside branch. Her heel is down, her ankle is flexed and her whole calf is in contact with the horse’s ribs. There is a nice angle at her knee.
Her seat is a hair too far out of the saddle, but she’s off her horse’s back, and he can use his hindquarters. Her posture is beautiful—a flat back parallel to the horse’s neck—and her eyes are up. She’s using a textbook short crest release, where her hands are a few inches up the neck and the rein is slack. To make it even better, she could lower her hands 3 to 5 inches and create a straight line from her elbow to the horse’s mouth.
The horse looks like today’s typical equitation horse—the heavier European warmblood type, who is very steady and trainable. He looks to be good for equitation, and though most winners in the hunter divisions are lighter and more refined, he might be a good hunter because his knees are up and even.
Both horse and rider are beautifully turned out. The horse is in good weight and his coat looks like he’s groomed to within an inch of his life and he’s braided. The sheepskin pad could be a little smaller to fit better.
An interesting note: Some might say that this rider looks a little posed. Years ago, trainers were criticized for developing riders who were pretty yet ineffective and passive. My hope is that while this rider’s position is close to perfect, she is also an effective and active rider, which would put her in the category of terrific.
This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.