This rider has most of her grip in her knee, causing it to act as a pivot, sending her lower leg too far back and tipping her seat too far forward. She needs to put the weight of her lower body through a flexed ankle into a lowered heel. This comes only with practice and should be learned and solidified on the flat by working in two-point position— first at the walk and then at the trot and canter. Once her leg is established on the flat, she can practice over ground poles and cavalletti. This is a rider with natural feel, so I think she will see results very quickly if she practices. Once her leg is in place, the horse’s thrust will lift her seat out of the saddle and she won’t feel the need to throw herself forward and up as she is here.
She has a beautiful natural posture with her back flat, her shoulder relaxed and her head up. She is concentrating on her job and looks confident and focused. Her short release is very good, much like the last rider’s, and is one to emulate.
The cute little horse is loose with his front legs, even over this triple-bar fence. I don’t love that, as I suspect that he would hang over a stiff vertical. He has a nice expression and is rounding his back, but the suspect front end and trailing hind end do not mark him as a great hunter type.
On the plus side, he is beautifully groomed with a very clean coat. He looks well managed and is in good weight. He has perfect braids and his tack, down to his saddle pad, is tidy and well fitted. His rider has really made an effort with his turnout and her own. They are dressed to impress.
This article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of Practical Horseman.