Incorrect placement of the foot in the stirrup is a pet peeve of mine. I was taught by Bert de Neméthy: About three-quarters of the foot is in the iron, the outside branch is a little ahead of the inside, allowing the iron to cross the foot and be at right angles to the girth, and the little toe touches the outside branch. It allows for a strong but supple leg. Once this rider adjusts the stirrup position, I would consider her leg to be excellent. Her heels are well down, her ankle is flexed, her toes are out, the stirrup is the correct length and there is an even distribution of contact throughout her leg.
Her base of support is fine. She’s a little high out of the saddle, but it doesn’t feel as if she’s jumping ahead. That sometimes can happen when the fence is big, though I can’t say that for sure here. Her back is good and she’s looking ahead with focused concentration. She is demonstrating somewhere between a short and long crest release, where she is using the horse’s crest like a table for support. She should practice an automatic release by lowering her hands 4 to 5 inches to create a straight line from her elbow to her horse’s mouth. She then could follow it with her hands but still have maximum control.
This horse has a lot of good assets. He has a good expression with alert ears and eyes and a super front end. His knees are up and symmetrical. I feel as if I could gallop to any jump and I wouldn’t worry with this horse. He’s a bit of a flat jumper but looks careful and fast.
I like that the horse is braided and is in good weight with clean, well-fitting tack, but his coat is a bit dull, like many horses on the Florida show circuit. Having a shining coat takes elbow grease. The rider is turned out in conservative, clean, well-fitting clothes.
This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Practical Horseman.