I wouldn’t want this rider’s stirrup any closer to her toe and she might even move the iron back on her foot a little. Years ago, you wanted about one-third of the foot in the iron, but now generally you want about a quarter of the foot in it. Hers borders on being on the tip of the toe, which is not good because the iron could easily slip off. Aside from that, this is a beautiful leg. Her ankles are flexed and her toes are out just enough and it’s a tight lower leg.
Her seat is a little too far out of the saddle, an indication that she’s jumping just slightly ahead. I’d like to see her seat closer to the saddle at this point in the jump. She has beautiful posture with her eyes up and ahead. Her back is straight and she is using an appropriate crest release for this level. As she advances, I’d like to see her hands move up a little less in a short release. In this type of release, the hands go up the crest a couple of inches instead of the 6 to 8 inches of a long crest release. Her goal should be an automatic release where she drops her hand a few inches and maintains a straight line from her elbow to his mouth.
This pony has a wonderful expression. I can’t see his front end, but I’m going to presume he is like most of the great ponies and it’s even and symmetrical. He jumps a little flat from his poll to the dock of his tail, but this is a very low fence that he just has to step over, which he’s doing in a very nice way.
This pair is also well turned out. He looks healthy and is very clean, not easy to do with a gray horse. His mane is braided well with no flyaway strays. I like the clean, dark, well-used flat tack. The rider’s clothes are conservative and clean and fit well as does the saddle pad.
This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of Practical Horseman.