This photo is taken from a poor angle for critiquing, but even so, you can see the rider has the basics of a good jumping seat. I like the stainless-steel stirrup irons because they give good support and are attractive. The rider’s heels are down, her toes are out and her calf is on her horse. She may need to angle the irons so the outside leads the inside, but I can’t say for sure. Her leg, though, is very stable and is supporting her.
The base of support is correctly close to the saddle, though her seat may be out of the saddle a little too much. Her posture is beautiful. Her back is flat and her eyes are looking up and ahead. She is using a long crest release, and I think she could advance to a short crest release.
The horse has a wonderful expression with ears forward and alert eyes. He also has a beautiful front end with knees that are up and even and he’s perfectly even below them as well. But he’s not a scopey jumper. If you took a ruler and placed it on the poll and the dock of the tail, there would be a straight line. There is very little arch and bascule. But he seems to be a very confident jumper.
He’s in good weight and his coat is OK, but the whole turnout is poor. The horse looks unkempt with his long mane flying. The saddle pad is large and unattractive. The rider’s shirt is untucked and the breeches are loose. It’s more what you’d expect from a backyard rider. That’s OK if that’s what a rider wants, but it has nothing to do with presenting the horse for any kind of show or even schooling. This is a good rider—relaxed and not interfering with her horse—but the whole presentation is not very good. Turnout is not some exotic situation. It is about attention to detail and classic, simple appointments.
This article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.