This rider doesn’t appear to be as advanced as our first, but she is very workmanlike. She has an excellent leg with her heel down, ankle flexed and toes turned out. She has maintained calf contact quite far down the side of this narrow-barreled Appaloosa.
Her seat is out of the saddle the right amount. The horse’s jump has closed up her hip angle-—he’s tossed her very little out of the saddle. Her posture is great with a flat back and eyes looking up and ahead. She is using a long release—her hands are halfway up the horse’s neck, the rein is loose and her body is supported by the crest. There is nothing wrong with this release, but once a rider is at the intermediate level, as this rider appears to be, she should be using a short or automatic release. Leave the long release for beginners or if you’re on a green horse or you’re in trouble. Very advanced riders throw their hands up the horse’s neck out of habit or because they haven’t been taught a different release.
This is an adorable Appaloosa with a very attractive head, though his ears look a little inattentive. He’s got a beautiful front end—tight and even. While the rider practices a short release, she might try lengthening her rein a little to encourage her horse to drop his head and neck and round his back more to achieve a better bascule. As for his hind end, he’s just taking off, but when you see one that is this straight from the point of the stifle to the tip of the toe, it indicates that he might trail a hind leg. It’s not a serious fault, but in the hunters, a judge would mark it down as the horse not using his hind legs as well as he might.
He is beautifully groomed—he’s clean as a whistle. The saddle pad fits nicely, and he’s braided. The rider is beautifully turned out as well.
This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.