Our first rider appears to be using a rubber safety stirrup. This is perfectly acceptable, but the iron needs to be moved so it’s on the ball of his foot and at a right angle to the girth. The stirrup is far too long for jumping—it needs to be shortened at least two holes, maybe three. The angle behind the knee needs to be about 110 degrees; here it’s about 170. Because of this, the rider is desperately trying to find his stirrup and his toes are pointing down. He does not have the angles in the knee and ankle to absorb the shock of the horse’s movement and jump. After the stirrup is shortened, the rider needs to be taught at the walk, trot and canter to flex his angles and keep his heels down and leg just behind the girth. He needs to practice this over crossrails, too. This is too big a fence for him until the basics are stabilized.
This rider is jumping ahead, which happens when he must reach for the stirrups. His buttock is high out of the saddle and over the pommel. With too long a stirrup and insecure leg, the knee acts as a pivot, the leg swings back and the body goes forward. This is a very precarious position. He has a naturally good posture and his eyes are up. He’s using a short release, but I would prefer to see him practice a long release, where he moves his hands halfway up the horse’s neck and grabs a piece of mane with one or two fingers.
The horse is very cute with a pretty head and attentive ears. His knees are pointing down a bit but they’re very even. He may be a little loose in front, but he’s not a hanger. He’s round, too. The horse appears well turned out, though his coat may be a little long. Though the tack looks clean, the rider’s boots are dirty. The rest of his turnout is fine, though rust breeches should be worn with brown boots. Black boots can be worn with beige or canary breeches.
This article originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of Practical Horseman.