This looks like what I call a vintage southern hunter ride where riders from the South had a good feel and eye but were never taught the American classic position that riders in the Northeast or Southern California were. When I judged riders like this in equitation, there were some very good riders, but they didn’t have the form, and I was always hard on them.
The wing is covering this rider’s leg, and the photo is dark so critiquing it is hard, but it feels as if the rider could possibly shorten her stirrup a hole to ensure that she’s not reaching for her stirrups. When I see someone stand up in the air like she is, it seems as if her heel could be a little lower.
Her seat is very high out of the saddle, a sign that she’s jumping ahead. She also is ducking badly, throwing her body at the horse’s neck with a roached back, two faults that often go together. She’s throwing her hands up in a well-done long release. Overall, this is not a good example of form, but despite that, she probably is a very good hunter rider.
This is a quality horse and beautiful jumper. His knees are up and symmetrical. He’s a little loose below them, but he’s giving the fence plenty of air and showing a very round bascule.
Another historically southern thing is beautiful turnout and excellent horsemanship, and this dapple gray is an example of that. You can’t get better turnout than this. He looks in good health, and everything about him and his rider is scrupulously clean. His mane and tail are beautifully braided. His ears, muzzle and fetlocks are neatly trimmed. The saddle pad and the rest of his dark tack fit well. Her riding clothes are neat and conservative. All of this is an example of American management and turnout.
This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of Practical Horseman.