This rider is demonstrating the American forward-seat riding style. Her little toe is touching the outside branch and the stirrup is crossing the foot so it is at a right angle to the girth. Her heels are down, her toe is out, her ankle is flexed and her calf is in contact with the horse’s ribs. The stirrup length looks right.
She’s not jumping ahead and her eyes are looking up and ahead. This is one of the few photos we’ve received in which the rider is using an automatic release. There is a perfectly straight line from her elbow to the horse’s mouth. She has a light contact with the horse’s mouth but she’s not dependent on his mouth. It appears that she’s very comfortable with this type of release and has practiced it a lot. This photo shows why the correct stirrup length is so important: It has allowed the rider to have an independent balance and a tight leg, making the automatic release possible. If you don’t have good balance, you can’t attempt this release.
This horse is cute as a button. He has a very good expression with his eyes and ears—conscientious. His knees are even and symmetrical, and he’s using himself behind. Horses of color often can’t jump very high, but this horse is doing a good job.
Their turnout is average. It could be that it was very hot because there is a sweat mark at the girth. If so, the rider should be mindful to have a friend check that and wipe it off before she goes in the ring. His mane needs to be pulled a little more. For jumpers, I like a figure-eight noseband because it crosses the nose high and doesn’t affect their wind and it helps horses not to get heavy.
This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Practical Horseman.