This rider is a prospect but she has the same leg issue as our first rider to a lesser degree. She is gripping excessively in her knee, which acts like a pivot, causing her lower leg to swing back. As it does, the upper body goes too far forward so that her base of support is too far out of the saddle. She’s working with a short release, but she’s doing the work of her hands with her upper body.
She needs to canter a lot of low fences in two-point, which will help redistribute the contact among her thigh, inner knee bones and calf and drop the weight in her heels. A few strides in front of the fence, she should move her hands halfway up the neck in a long release and grab mane. She must wait for the thrust of the horse to close her hip angle and open her knee angle. Her posture is good. Her eyes are up and ahead.
This horse is alert with good ears and eyes. His knees are up and even over this beautiful natural cross-country fence and his forearm is parallel to the ground. He’s pretty good below the knees, but his right hoof is a little higher than the left, so he’s not perfectly symmetrical. He’s very round: He wants to drop his head, crack his back and kick up his hind end. She’s got a great partner.
He is cleaner than the first horse and looks as if he’s been deeply groomed so he shines. Using a currycomb or stiff brush helps to bring the oils up and it’s like giving a horse a massage. His weight and coat are good. He’s got a Thelwell pony mane that needs to be pulled from underneath a little wider than a hand’s width. The rider is well turned out, too. The stirrup iron looks hinged, which I don’t like. A hinge is not supposed to absorb the shock of riding and jumping; the flexibility of the ankle and knees do.
This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of Practical Horseman.