I like this girl. She has good basics. She appears to have a solid leg, but like a lot of eventers, there is a problem with the contact. The grip of the leg should be almost perfectly divided among the thigh, inner knee bone and calf. But I’d say 90 percent of eventers grip with their knees and thighs with too little contact in the calf. This rider is better than a lot, but she’s a victim of incorrect grip. You acquire the correct grip by riding without a saddle, which gives you a naturally correct leg. The rest of her leg is good. The heel is down, the safety stirrup, which can never be criticized, is at a right angle to the girth. Her ankle is flexed and her toes are out.
She’s dropping back in the air, which is different from being left back. Her seat is too deep and too far back in the saddle at this point of the jump. Her posture is excellent: You can see there’s a slight hollow in her loins just under the safety vest. Her eyes and head are up. This is a refreshing release position. Her hands are alongside the horse’s neck in a more advanced position, closer to an automatic release.
It’s a hard point of the fence—the landing stage—to judge the horse but I don’t love his front end. It looks like it could be a little loose. My antenna is up, saying he’s not a great jumper.
He’s not groomed particularly well. He has a lot of hair on him, and his mane is sticking up—maybe it’s growing out. His tail is braided, which spiffs him up. To get the hair off him—which needs to be done so he doesn’t sweat and get sick—the rider needs to use a currycomb and a stiff brush or he needs to be clipped. His fetlocks could use a little trim. I’m not a fan of the colors that eventers like to wear. If I were to ride in eventing, I’d be more conservative, but at least the colors she is wearing are similar.
This article originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of Practical Horseman.