This looks like a small horse with a long-legged rider, so she should raise her stirrups up about two holes to avoid catching her foot on the rail. I had to do this on Sinjon, whom I rode in the 1960 Rome Olympics. There is a danger that the stirrup could be too short and this tall rider could develop a chair seat; if that starts to happen, she could drop the stirrup a hole. Other than that, she has a good leg. The iron is angled across the ball of her foot, she has enviable flexibility in her ankle so her heel is way down and her leg is in contact with the horse.
Her base of support is excellent—she is not jumping ahead or back. Her posture is beautiful with a slight concavity in her loins. Her release is somewhere between a short and a long. Having a broken line above the horse’s mouth is acceptable, having a straight line to the horse’s mouth is preferable and having a broken line below the horse’s mouth is not acceptable. You often see riders trying to get the horse’s head down by pulling on the mouth. Even if the horse yields, he won’t be in self-carriage. The rider will have pulled him into the shape.
This attractive horse reminds me of a horse I had when I was young. Bubble Gum was 15.3 hands and a useful horse. This horse is cute with a good expression, but he’s got a large shoulder and he’s jumping over his front end. It reminds me of European horses who can hang their front ends if things go a little wrong or if they spook. I can’t accuse him of it here, though. He’s almost symmetrical and he’s dropping his head and neck and rounding his back. He’s trailing his hind end a little.
If they are schooling, I would say the turnout is OK. It’s hard to tell, but the horse looks clean as does the tack and rider’s clothes. If they are showing, the rider should be in a show coat and the horse should be braided.
This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Practical Horseman.