This rider also has an exemplary leg. One-quarter of her foot is in the iron, allowing for a more supple leg than when we used to jump with one-third to one-half in it. The outside branch leads the inside and is at a right angle to the girth. Her heel is down, her ankle is flexed and her calf is on the horse. She is riding with a short stirrup, which helps her get off the horse’s back. This is always better than a too-long stirrup, but it is pushing her buttock quite high out of the saddle. Her too-high seat might also just be habit as she tries to jump for her horse. In either case, I’d like it a little closer to the saddle.
Her posture under the safety vest appears beautiful. Her back is straight with a slight hollow in the loin and her eyes are up and looking ahead. She is showing a good crest release, a little shorter than our first rider, which always produces a broken line above the mouth and is acceptable. What is not acceptable is a broken line below the mouth because then the bit acts on the bars of the horse’s mouth, causing him to throw up his head and become hollow in his topline. My only suggestion would be for her to lower her hands in the air 3 to 5 inches so there is a straight line from her elbow to the horse’s mouth.
This horse has a good expression and a good front end—he is jerking up his knees. His left knee is higher than his right, but the right is high enough. He’s not the roundest jumper, but he’s safe and workmanlike.
The horse is in good weight and looks well-cared for. I appreciate the braid job. There might be about 10 braids compared to the first pony’s 30 or 40, but it is still acceptable. I’m not a fan of the colors that eventers wear, but this rider’s turnout is clean and fits well. I recommend that she tuck her hair into her helmet for a neater look. Overall, I like this pair very much.
This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of Practical Horseman.