This rider, another stylist, is demonstrating the correct distribution of contact in the leg, an optimum seat and a perfect release. Her leg also is more of a throwback to the 1950s and ’60s. The contact is evenly distributed among her thigh, inner knee and calf. My only criticism is that she should wear a spur, even if it’s a small one. I don’t jump a horse if I’m not wearing spurs and I always carry a stick because you never know when you might need them. I also am not crazy about those black stirrup irons with the funny twist to them. Irons like that are so light that if you lose them, they’re hard to retrieve. Plus, they’re ugly.
The thrust of the horse’s jump has opened up the rider’s knee angle and closed her hip angle so she is tossed out of the saddle just the right amount. She has beautiful posture with a flat back that is not stiff or too soft. This is one of the few photos we have showing a perfect release. From her elbow to the horse’s mouth there is a straight line. Her hands are about 6 inches below the crest and she’s not relying on the horse’s neck for support. There is a straight, steady contact, but at the same time, it’s definite—not too slack or stiff. You just can’t get a better picture of jumping out of hand. The horse jumps and stretches his neck—what he takes, the rider gives. Not more, not less.
The horse is attractive with a good expression. He’s short-coupled with powerful hindquarters and forearms that are parallel to the ground and symmetrical. Though he’s not tight below his knees, he’s jumping so correctly and high that he doesn’t have to be tight.
As much as a stylist as this rider is, I’d like to see her have more interest in classic appointments for horse and rider. I’d also like the horse to have less hair—first a body clip and then a trim to his ears and around his coronet. A well-groomed horse just takes work.
This article was originally published in the April 2017 issue of Practical Horseman.