Our first rider appears to be using safety stirrups with a strong elastic band for the outside branch. Children up to age 12 usually use them, though some adults do, too. This should never be criticized because it’s a traditional piece of safety tack. Her leg position is excellent. The stirrup is on the ball of her foot. The outside branch is ahead of the inside branch and at a right angle to the girth. Her heel is down, her ankle is flexed and her toes are out. Her whole calf is in contact with her pony and the contact is distributed between her thigh, knee and lower leg. She has tight calf muscles, which gives grip and security.
Her base of support is exemplary. It’s out of the saddle but there is no sense of jumping ahead or falling behind. Her buttocks are a little high, but that’s because from the point of her knee to the point of her buttock, she’s very long so there is nowhere else for her buttocks to go but up. She has beautiful posture and her eyes are up and ahead. She’s demonstrating a classic crest release, which is perfectly acceptable. She could do better by lowering her hand in the air so it’s alongside the middle of the pony’s neck, creating a straight line to the horse’s mouth from her elbow.
This pony is alert with a beautiful expression. His front end is square and symmetrical and his knees are parallel. He’s jumping round from his poll to the dock of his tail. He’s twisting a little to the left and lying on his right side, but maybe that’s how he jumps or maybe he came off a right turn and got a little deep. It’s not bad but in hot competition, the judge would notice it.
This pony and rider are turned out beautifully. The pony looks clean and well-groomed. He also is braided and wearing conventional, clean tack. The rider is in jodhpurs, which is acceptable up to age 13. Her attire is conservative and well-fitting.
This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of Practical Horseman.