This rider’s basics are good. He needs to twist his stirrup so that the iron is at a right angle to the girth with the outside branch leading the inside. This looks better aesthetically and also allows for a suppler leg. His heel is well down, the stirrup is on the ball of the foot and his calf is in contact with the horse’s sides. He could possibly shorten the stirrup a hole because there is not enough angle behind his knee. It should be about 100 to 110 degrees.
Shortening his stirrups would help his base of support—his buttocks are a little too deep at this point in the saddle. But the horse is overjumping and it would be hard for anyone to stay with him, so this man is doing a good job—a shorter stirrup would possibly help. His back is roached, which is often a habit or related to age, and a shorter stirrup might help that, too. This is another good example of a short release. The rein is slack, letting the horse drop his head and neck, providing enough freedom.
The horse is interesting. He’s got a big head and massive shoulder and his knees are up enough. His forearm is not quite parallel to the ground—heavy warmbloods tend to point their knees down—but he’s not bad. I like his front end. His knees, pasterns and feet are very even. He’s also the roundest jumper we’ve seen in a while. From the tip of his nose through his poll, withers and back and down to his tail, he has a really round arc. He’s got a lot of power, thrust and scope. He looks as if he could jump a big jump and would make a good show jumper.
He appears roughly cared for because his coat is long. Maybe he lives out. But if you ride and especially foxhunt a horse with a long coat, he will sweat and possibly get sick. It’s also unsightly. I think he needs a body clip or a hunter clip.
This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Practical Horseman,
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