I love this rider’s tight, supple, effective leg. She is doing everything right with her heel, ankle and calf, but she needs to adjust her stirrup, just like the first rider does. Angling the iron across the ball of her foot will add a level of refinement that she can’t achieve any other way. The stirrup is the foundation for your position, so placing it correctly is vital.
Her base of support is just right, too, and I can easily forgive the slight roach in her lower back as it can be hard for a small rider like this one to stay with a big, rangy horse. Her use of her head and eyes is very good.
She is showing us a very satisfactory crest release, with her hand resting and pressing into the side of her horse’s neck with a soft feel of his mouth. I would like to see her try the automatic release by dropping her hand about 6 inches and following the gesture of her horse’s head without leaning on his neck for support. She is skilled enough to do it, and it would be another minor adjustment to her position that would reap rewards in her ability to communicate with her horse. She is a very good rider, and she should work with this advanced release at least some of the time.
This horse is handsome and kind-looking. He looks the part of a top hunter, but he is actually a bit of a heartbreaker when it comes to his jumping form. While his knees are up, his right knee is lower than the left and he is lying on his right side while throwing his legs to the left. This can be an indicator that he is sore or tired, but it could just be his style. If he has this style over a rampy oxer, which normally gets the best effort a horse can produce with his front end, I don’t have high hopes for him over a stiff vertical.
With the exception of the overly large, fluffy saddle pad, which is distracting, this pair looks terrific.
This article originally appeared in the July 2013 issue of Practical Horseman.