Our second rider needs to angle the stirrup iron across the ball of her foot so it is at a right angle to the girth for a more supple leg. Her stirrup iron is an odd shape. I much prefer the old-fashioned, heavy-duty stainless-steel stirrup irons. I think they look better and are safer because if a rider loses one, she can more easily retrieve it than some of today’s lighter stirrups. Her leg has slipped back a little because she does not have enough contact distributed between her calf, knee and thigh. There is excessive grip in the knee, which is acting like a pivot, sending her lower leg back. To correct this, she needs to work in two-point contact or without stirrups, redistributing the contact evenly.
Because of her pinched knee, her buttock has come way up in what is known as jumping ahead. She has a flat back and good posture, and her eyes are up. Like our first rider, she is using a long crest release, which is acceptable until she develops a more stable leg. Once that happens, she should work on a short release. A long release is for beginners or for riders jumping green horses. You also see it in hunter classes. In equitation, it should not be used past the Novice or Limit levels.
The horse has a beautiful expression and a beautiful front end. His knees are up and perfectly even. He’s not the roundest jumper, but he’s a lovely horse. The only horse who would beat him is one with the same front end but who cracks his back and jumps rounder.
The horse looks to be in good weight and healthy. While I appreciate the well-fitting saddle pad and the braided mane, it doesn’t look like the tack is very clean and the rider’s boots don’t shine. Classic tack and apparel should be scrupulously clean.
This article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.