Our final rider is relaxed and tight and she appears bold—like she could cope with a lot. I’d like to see her riding with a spur. I ride every horse with a spur. I think it dresses up a rider’s look and it helps to refine the leg aid. If I’m jumping a horse who doesn’t need them, I may put on a very small “dummy” spur. But overall, she has a very good leg. She tends to push on her toe with the stirrup irons that are too light, which raises her heel. It’s not bad, but it’s there. She’s riding with a short stirrup, which closes her knee angle to a tight 90 degrees. I’d prefer it to be 100 to 110 degrees.
She’s just dropping back in the saddle a little, which closes up the angle more. If she put the weight down in her heel and got up off her seat a little more, the knee angle probably would be OK. Her posture is beautiful and her eyes are up and ahead. Now this is an automatic release, one of the few we ever have. You see that from the elbow to the mouth there’s almost a straight line. If she dropped her hand half an inch, it would be absolute, but it’s close enough. This gives her total control over the jump and on landing. It also forces a rider to improve her balance.
This big, plain chestnut horse doesn’t have a beautiful head but he has an alert expression. He has a massive shoulder and could be a little heavy on the forehand. It’s not a bad front end but his left knee is higher than his right and he’s quite loose below the knees. He’s throwing his legs a little to the left. He’s also a flat jumper from his poll to the dock of his tail.
The horse is better cared for than many. His coat looks clean. I don’t care for the saddle pad and the rider’s boots could be cleaner. I’d don’t like the look of the net on the nose, but if a horse has allergies, sometimes a net can help.
This article originally appeared in the August 2016 issue of Practical Horseman.