Our second rider has a few position faults in her seat and with her release, but she’s an excellent stylist. She has a leg position reminiscent of those from the 1950s and ’60s. Her heel is down and close to half of her foot is in the iron with her toe turned out 35 degrees. It is a secure, strong leg, especially for fast riding. Today people ride so that one quarter to one third of the foot is in the iron and the little toe touches the outside branch; the toe is turned out 15 to 20 degrees with contact in the calf. This allows for a secure but suppler and softer leg.
Though this rider has good calf contact, she also looks to have an excessive grip in her knee. She needs to make sure the contact is evenly distributed among her thigh, inner knee and the calf. Her seat is a little too far out of the saddle. She has beautiful posture with a hollow back, chest out and eyes up and ahead.
However, this is a gross caricature of the crest release, the whole point of which is that the rider’s upper body has the support of the horse’s neck. This rider’s hands are floating about 2 inches above it, which is opening up her hip angle. To correct this, she needs to put her hands alongside the neck about halfway up and press into it. She also could practice the automatic release in which the horse takes the release. What the horse takes, the rider gives.
I love this attractive horse’s alert ears and eyes. He’s long-backed and jumps flat, but he’s respectful of the fence. His front end is dramatic with his knees way up. They are not even—his right knee is up but his left knee is higher. The right is not bad or a safety issue as if he were hanging.
The horse’s and rider’s turnout is solid. I’m not a fan of color, but at least the saddle pad, shirt and bonnet are all in a matching blue.
This article was originally published in the April 2017 issue of Practical Horseman.