The wing of the jump is covering up this rider’s foot, but I can tell that the angle of her knee, about 120–130 degrees, is too open. It needs to be about 110 degrees. She could shorten it by a hole or two. I can also see how the contact is perfectly distributed between the knee, inner knee bone and calf. It is there but not driving the horse crazy.
Her base of support is excellent. She’s not jumping ahead or dropping back. The thrust of her horse has thrown her just clear of the saddle. This is optimum. She has a slight roach, reflective of too long a stirrup. Her posture would be even better with a shorter stirrup. A roach, however, is preferable to a stiff swayback. Her eyes are up and looking ahead to the left. I like her hand, which is following her horse’s head well. If her hand were 2 inches lower, she’d have an automatic release. Also she’s showing an opening left rein, where the left hand goes to the left to direct the horse without any backward pull.
The horse is very cute and looks competitive—like he’s very fast, careful and tidy. He has a lovely desire to jump round—he’s dropping his head and neck and wants to use them well. He has a wonderful front end, tight and even. His knees are up by his chin. Below them is tucked up and tight. He looks very careful and fast, though his scope may be limited to 4-foot-6. If that’s the case, it’s important to keep a horse in his niche where he’s competitive.
He’s well groomed. He doesn’t need to be braided for a jumper class. For the old U.S. Equestrian Team classes, we always braided manes and tails, but with time constraints and the expense, that’s almost disappeared. His tack is conservative and well cared for. The saddle pad fits well. The rider is neatly and conservatively well dressed, too.
This article originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of Practical Horseman.