In this refreshing foxhunting photo, the rider has lost her leg a little to the rear but that’s because this horse really cracks his back and jumps up and round. As a result, her heel isn’t down as far as it could be. With a horse who jumps like this, the rider should shorten her stirrup a hole or two, but it’s admirable that she’s kept her leg as stable as it is with this horse’s thrust. The rider also should angle the stirrup iron so the outside branch leads the inside branch and it is at a right angle to the girth.
Her seat is out of the saddle a little farther than I’d like it. Approaching the fence, she may be trying to create impulsion by pushing with her seat rather than closing her leg. Her posture is good and her back is flat. She’s using more of a long crest release, which is a very good technique when a horse jumps like this. She’s doing a heck of a job.
In addition to a very round bascule, this horse is very symmetrical in front but loose. He may be jumping way up to compensate for a front end that is not so tight. This form would be a problem in the hunter ring, where many judges favor a tight, even front end over bascule. But for a jumper, I prefer horses who don’t have the best front end but really jump up with their bodies. Beezie Madden’s Authentic always had a little bit of a front-end issue, which is why he was so careful. Most top jumpers don’t have the perfect hunter front-end style.
The horse is well cared for and clean. His front legs are muddy, but that’s what happens when riding across the country. He’s well turned out for hunting, and I like the figure-eight noseband. I don’t like the elastic breast plates because I saw a horse choking on one that had slipped. The rider looks clean and her clothes are clean and well fitted.
This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.