This is a good rider with an exemplary leg, a seat that has been thrust out of the saddle just the right amount and a workmanlike crest release. He has a relaxed position and looks as if he can ride—not just appear soft and beautiful.
A tiny detail to fix is his stirrup position. The iron is not at a right angle to the girth so the outside branch isn’t forward enough. He should twist the iron so the outside branch leads the inside with the little toe touching the outside branch and then practice maintaining this position first at the walk and trot and then at the canter and over crossrails. Other than the stirrup position, his leg is solid.
His seat is also very good because he has allowed the horse’s jump to open his knee angle and close his hip angle, tossing him slightly out of the saddle. I could say he’s dropping back in his seat a little so I might shorten his stirrup a hole to help him be lighter in the saddle at this point in the jump. His posture is natural and relaxed, and he is using a classic crest release, half-way between a long and short. This kind of release gains support for the upper body in the hands.
The horse is a powerful jumper, but he doesn’t have very good technique. I don’t hate his front end, but I don’t like it. The left knee is higher than the right, which he’s close to hanging. He’s also heavy on his forehand with a big head and loaded shoulder.
The turnout of horse and rider is average. The horse, while healthy, has too much hair, the orange saddle sticks out and the saddle pad is a little large. The rider’s boots are not polished and the stirrup iron looks dirty. The gloves are a nice touch. He’s using two reins on the bit ring, which is instructive—I often see just one. The top is the snaffle, and the bottom rein, when used, applies pressure on the corners of the horse’s mouth.
This article was originally published in the April 2017 issue of Practical Horseman.