This rider doesn’t appear to be wearing spurs, which I am a fanatic about. I always wear spurs and carry a stick because you want them available if you need them. When teaching, I quickly put a rider in spurs once she has basic leg control, even if they are just small dummy spurs.
As for this rider’s position, I’d like her stirrup to be a little closer to her toe and the outside branch touching her little toe. This gives more flexibility to the ankle, which would help lower her heel, but otherwise it’s a very good leg. I appreciate the stainless-steel stirrup irons she’s using, which are the best for function and aesthetics. The stirrup leather is the correct length with the angle behind the knee about 100 degrees.
Her seat is also good. It’s just cleared the saddle, but it’s not too deep. Where this rider is more advanced is in her release. It’s almost an automatic release with a light support, which is very refreshing to see. If it were down another half an inch, there would be a perfectly straight line from her elbow to the horse’s mouth. Overall, this rider has a very good position. It’s tight but relaxed and supple.
The horse looks like he may have Arab in his background. He has a nice head, but his front end isn’t too good and he’s jumping with an inverted bascule. He’s flat and stiff, and from the poll to the dock of his tail he is shaped like a U rather than a rounded arc. He might be careful and he’s probably very fast, but he’s not very stylish. I’d be worried that if they got to a deep distance, the horse might hang a leg.
The horse is well cared for and very clean. He isn’t braided, which isn’t necessary in this jumper class, but I’d like the mane to be trained to stay on the right side. The rider is clean with spotless boots and breeches. I’m not crazy about the large saddle pad.
This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.