This rider’s stirrup is too long. The angle behind the knee should be 100 to 110 degrees. The angle behind this rider’s is much more open—about 140 to 150 degrees. She needs to shorten it by at least two holes. Because she’s reaching for her stirrup, her knee is acting as a pivot, causing her lower leg to slip back far to the rear and her heels to come up. If the horse stops or props, she will fall off. It also irritates the horse because a leg that far back acts as an active leg, telling him to go when he shouldn’t.
As most people pivoting off the knee do, this rider is jumping ahead where the crotch is ahead of the pommel because she doesn’t have a solid base of support. Her posture is excellent with her eyes up and ahead. She also has a very faulty release. She is not using the crest of the horse’s neck for support. Her hands are floating above his neck, lifting so they rotate back and pick the horse over the jump. This rider needs a whole different concept of the basics of jumping, and I suggest she read books on jumping—Gordon Wright’s, Brig. Gen. Harry Chamberlin’s or mine—to get on the right track.
This horse has a great expression. His knees are up, though he’s loose and uneven below them. But he looks springy, athletic, careful and up to jumping a bigger fence. He’s just being loafy with his front end. He’s jumping flat but that most likely is because he is just stepping over the small fence.
This turnout is past backyard and a little rough and ready for me. The horse’s mane needs to be pulled and I think he needs to be groomed more so the oils are drawn out and help his coat shine. What I really don’t like is the pattern in the breeches because it distracts from the horse. It’s not part of the theater of showing.
This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Practical Horseman.