The standard is covering up this rider’s stirrup position, but the iron looks well placed at a right angle to the girth. She needs to have more weight in the heel, and her leg is pivoting around her knee and swinging back. This can happen on a small narrow-slabbed horse like this. I would shorten the stirrup a hole or two so the rider has more contact with her calf. Contact of the leg is very dependent on rider and horse conformation. For a short rider on a well-sprung horse, the leg contact will come all the way down the horse’s side. For a long-legged rider on a narrow-sided horse, the contact will be higher. The stirrup leathers need to be adjusted accordingly. The rider should work over crossrails to keep her heel down.
Her seat is excellent. There are no signs that she is jumping ahead or dropping back. Her back is slightly roached, which would be helped by a shorter stirrup. Again, we have a long release, but this about 2 inches too far up the neck. It should be only halfway. Also, the reins are a little too short. In a long release, the reins should be loose. Once she has fixed her leg and has more security, she could graduate to the short release. But overall, she’s doing a nice job.
This is a cute horse who looks light and sensitive. His knees are up and even, though I’d like to see him a little tighter in his front end. He is a little loose from his knee to the point of his toe, though he’s not hanging. He’s got a flat back and his hind end is trailing a bit. He might jump better over a higher fence.
The horse appears to be in good health, but I don’t like his unruly mane and the blue saddle pad. I think his chrome could be a little whiter. Her shirt is hanging out, which I don’t like, as is her braid. The turnout isn’t as polished as I like to see.
This article originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.