This rider’s basics are excellent—from a position perspective, she’s one of the best we’ve had. The stirrup iron is perfectly placed at a right angle to the girth. About one-quarter of her foot is in the stirrup, and she is feeling the outside branch with her little toe. Her ankle is flexed and her heel is down. Her toes are out a shade and her calf is in contact with the horse. This is a very stable leg. I suggest she shorten her leather one little hole to give her more angle behind her knee on this slab-sided horse. Sometimes a rider with a long leg on a narrow horse can actually hit the top rail of a fence—I’ve done it before!
This is how a rider’s seat should look—it’s out just enough to clear the saddle. Under the safety vest, her posture looks fine with a hollow loin and chest out. Her eyes are looking up. She has a beautiful hand position. It is very close to an automatic release—her hands should be a half inch lower to be absolutely correct. You can see how she is secure enough in her own balance that she does not have to rely on the horse’s neck, yet she is following his head and neck forward and down. This type of release gives the horse freedom but allows the rider to have the best feel and control.
This is a very cute horse with his knees up by his chin and very symmetrical. He drops his head and neck and rounds his back and looks very careful. He’s got a little bit of a big head and he leans on the bit, so she might consider a twisted or wire snaffle if he gets low in the hand in competition. He also is very well cared for and everything looks clean. The setting looks a bit rustic with the rider’s casual turnout and long grass, but I grew up riding in fields like this and it’s all right to see. The horsemanship is good.
This article was originally published in the April 2018 issue of Practical Horseman.