This rider has the best leg so far. The iron is at right angles to the girth. Her foot is touching the outside branch of the iron. Her heel is down, her ankle is flexed and she has a beautiful contact in her leg. Although her leg position is good, she needs to shorten her stirrup. The 160-degree angle is making her reach for her stirrup, which compromises balance. The quickest way to fall off a horse is to have a long stirrup, especially if you are riding at any kind of speed because you don’t have enough grip.
Because she is reaching for her stirrup, it looks as if she approached the jump riding a little behind the motion. So here she’s thrown her upper body forward, causing her to jump ahead. She needs to wait with her body for her horse to jump. She’s demonstrating a classic long release, which holds the rider forward in the jumping position and gives the horse freedom. Once she adjusts her stirrup length, she could practice the short release where her hands are just 1–2 inches in front of the withers and then the automatic release where there is a straight line from the rider’s elbow and the horse’s mouth.
This pinto has a wonderful expression in his eyes and ears. His knees are up, and though he’s a little loose below them, he’s very symmetrical, which is more attractive than asymmetry. This is a very low jump where the wide ground line is inviting him to jump flat and just step over the fence. If I were training this horse, I’d move in the ground line and raise the fence a little to encourage him to jump rounder.
He is in good weight, and he is well groomed with his coat short and shiny. It’s hard to tell, but I think his mane could be pulled a little shorter. I like the well-fitting saddle pad and simple tack. Again, I’m not crazy about a rider competing in a polo shirt.
This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of Practical Horseman.