This is a very accomplished, bold rider with a strong leg and great balance. Her leg is beautiful with her heel down, ankle flexed and a great stirrup length. Her toe might be out too much to be ideal for an equitation rider, but it is perfect for an eventer as it puts the calf on the horse in a viselike grip and acts as a strong driving aid.
Her base of support—the seat and thigh—is just right. The horse’s thrust has closed her hip angle and tossed her seat out of the saddle. There is nothing mannered or artificial here. Her back is naturally flat under her vest, and she is looking between her horse’s ears for the next obstacle.
Her release is about a half inch off of being perfectly straight between the bit and her elbow, but it still qualifies as jumping out of hand. Also known as an automatic release, this release offers the best communication between horse and rider as the rider is not leaning on the horse’s neck for balance and can instantly and subtly cue him.
This is a wonderful horse with a conscientious and intelligent expression. His front end is lovely, with his knees up and even and his forearms square and tight. I would be happy to run him down to any solid fence myself. He might be a little hollow in the back, but I suspect it is because he has a little apprehension about hitting his rider’s hand and the rather stiff gag bit upon landing. Although many people like them, I am not a huge fan of gags because they can be quite strong and many horses fear hitting them.
The horse looks very fit and is in beautiful coat. The rider is dressed in the attire favored by eventers but in quite a conservative and attractive way. I might thin the horse’s mane and forelock for a neater appearance, but that is a minor quibble.
This article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of Practical Horseman.