This rider has a correctly angled stirrup that’s perpendicular to the girth. The other riders should use it as an example. Her leg is very good except that her toe is not far enough into the stirrup for maximum security. It is traditional to have one-quarter to one-third of the foot in the iron, so there is less risk of dropping a stirrup.
Her base of support has dropped back into the saddle, but here it is not a major fault because she is not stiffing her horse or impeding his jump in any way. I think she has dropped back from a combination of being in a stiff and slippery new saddle and that she is on a horse who shoots straight across his fences with the trajectory of an arrow. It’s hard to stay with a horse who jumps like this, so she needs to concentrate on holding herself out of the saddle until he lands.
She has excellent posture and use of her head and eye and a beautiful short release. Her hand is holding a slack rein that gives her horse complete freedom of his head and neck, which are his balancing agents. Her hand is resting alongside his neck, which is giving her upper-body support.
This horse is not making a real effort here. While his knees are up, I do not get the sense that he set himself up before the fence, nor is he trying to be round. He is just galloping across the jump with no discernible style. Working over gymnastics like bounces and tight in-and-outs may sharpen his form, but, while he is safe, he doesn’t really want to be a hunter.
Such a good coat on this horse speaks to good feed, a good deworming program and lots of grooming. His weight is just right, and his tail is beautifully maintained. His too-long mane and the rider’s ultracasual clothing don’t do much for me, even in a schooling setting, but I know others will not mind.
This article originally appeared in the July 2013 issue of Practical Horseman.