This rider has a very long leg, and it’s in a beautiful position. The stirrup iron looks like it needs to be angled forward just a little so that it is at a right angle to the girth. Her heels are well down, her ankle is flexed and her toes are out in accordance with her conformation. You can see the difference in the distribution of contact in her leg from our second rider. This rider’s contact is evenly divided among the thigh, inner knee bone and calf.
I can’t accuse her of jumping ahead, but her buttock is a little high out of the saddle, which is the fashion today. It’s a little hard to tell with the flapping shadbelly, but her back looks a little concave.
The crest release she is using provides a broken line above the horse’s mouth from the rider’s elbow to the mouth, which is acceptable. A broken line below the horse’s mouth is not. However, if we want to see perfection, we would see a perfectly straight line from elbow to mouth, maybe with a slightly shorter rein. This allows for the optimum contact. I preach these old truisms of riding because they work better for the horse and rider. These old classical pieces of advice make the horse jump round from behind.
This is a very tasty horse. He has a beautiful head with his ears pricked forward. He’s a dramatic jumper. He jerks his knees up and drops his head and neck and wants to be round. But he’s not very even in front—I do not like his left leg as much as his right.
He’s also in good weight and beautifully groomed and trimmed—this seal brown is one of my favorite colors. His mane and tail are braided. The saddle pad is well fitting and white. The tack is clean. The rider is dressed in conservative attire that keeps the attention on the horse. She’s going to the horse show prepared to make an impression.
This article originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of Practical Horseman.