This young rider has a very good leg for jumping, with her heel down, her ankle flexed, her calf on the horse and a secure contact at the girth. Her leg is a little too far in front of her seat. In this case, it just gives her a little extra security, but I suspect that she rides in a chair seat on the flat. She should guard against riding behind her leg, or she will be out of balance with the horse. She could soften her leg by angling the stirrup across the ball of her foot so that her little toe touches the outside branch of the stirrup.
Her seat is out of the saddle just enough, and her back is firm yet soft with a nice hollow in her loin. Her eyes and head are up and looking ahead, as they should be. All in all her posture is excellent.
I am happy to see her true short release with the rein short enough to have control in the air and on landing but without restricting her horse’s head and neck. This is how this intermediate release should be performed—the hand rests alongside the horse’s neck just in front of the withers, so the rider can rest and press the weight of her upper body into her horse for balance. Her elbow is out a little, but this is a minor flaw and not uncommon with a short release as it is hard to know where to go with your elbow.
The horse is a super jumper. He looks careful and powerful, and his knees are way up. His sharp front end compensates for the fact that he is bellying this jump a little. When a horse is this good with his front end, he is often a little low in his body.
Kudos for keeping this gray horse so immaculately clean. While I am not a fan of the large pink saddle pad, his tack is clean and well fitted. His rider, too, is well dressed, although I would like to see her close her collar to present a neater appearance.
This article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of Practical Horseman.