This rider needs to shorten her stirrup about two big holes so she can push off against the iron, using it as a foundation for her position. The angle in her knee should be about 110 degrees, and it looks to be 150 degrees. She also needs to adjust the iron so it runs diagonally across the ball of her foot with the outside branch ahead of the inside branch and her little toe touching the outside.
Despite the lack of support, she is doing an amazingly good job. Her heel is down, her ankle is flexed and her calf is on the horse. She also has managed to stay in perfect balance with her horse. Her seat is out of the saddle just enough, neither jumping ahead of nor dropping behind his motion. Despite the too-long stirrup, she has a very good position, so she seems to be a real athlete and quite a skilled rider for her level.
Once again, we are fortunate to be able to see a well-done release with the rider’s hand well-placed on her horse’s neck and a good contact with his mouth. Her back is flat, her shoulders are relaxed and her head and eyes are up.
This horse is attractive, but he is a heavy horse in the hand. His large head and shoulder work together to make him a “forehand horse,” and the rider needs to bit him carefully to help him stay up in front and to keep safe. His right knee is lower than his left, and I suspect he is a part-time hanger.
The horse is clipped for easy cooling out while retaining some protection from a heavy coat, and he looks healthy and clean. The rider looks a little rough and ready, with stained breeches, an untucked open-collar shirt, poorly fitted boots, a loose chin strap on the helmet and a flying ponytail. I believe in being tidy and professional-looking even while schooling, as it makes for a feeling of competence and pride.
This article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of Practical Horseman.