Some critics might says this rider’s heels are down too far and her toes are out too far, but that’s easily modified. The rider needs to adjust her stirrup by angling it so the outside branch is ahead of the inside branch, positioning the iron at a right angle to the girth, and so her little toe touches the outside branch. This allows for a more supple leg. Once she fixes her stirrup, her toes will not look so exaggerated. Her calf is on the horse, but she needs to shorten her stirrup. She needs more angle behind her knee so that it’s closer to 110 degrees, not 130.
Her seat has cleared the saddle just the right amount. She’s not jumping ahead. She has a slight roach in her back—her stirrup length has made it hard for her to hold her posture. Her eyes are up and ahead. This is a good photo to show how to use the hands while turning in the air. There is almost a straight line from her elbow to the horse’s mouth, and she’s maintaining a steady, supple definite contact with it. I like this contact.
This is a lovely horse with a wonderful expression in his eyes and ears. He has a good front end—his knees are dramatically up and below his knees he’s tight. His right ankle and pastern are a little looser than the left, but he’s well over the fence. Just skimming over the jump with his belly, he’s not the roundest. Horses with wonderful legs often don’t exert more effort with their backs.
He’s in good weight with a good coat, indicating he’s well groomed. I don’t like the blue saddle pad—for me, the less color, the better. If you’re going to use a baby pad, make it white. I like the simple tack. As for attire, I know it’s the fashion these days, but I would find it hard to ride in any competitive arena, even at a schooling show, in a polo shirt.
This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of Practical Horseman.