This is a very showy yet workmanlike rider with a good position and concentrated focus. She has a good stirrup length with a 100-degree angle behind her knee. This allows us to have support in our feet. We can take the weight off the horse’s back and put it in our stirrups—especially important for jumping and fast riding. About a quarter of her foot is in the stirrup, the stirrup is almost at a right angle to the girth and she is touching the outside branch of the iron with her little toe, all of which help get the weight into her heels. Her toes are out the maximum 45 degrees, which some might consider a little outdated, but it allows for a viselike grip with her calf in contact with the horse’s sides.
Her base of support is just right—her seat is neither too far ahead of the pommel nor too far out of the saddle. Her eyes are up and she has a beautiful posture. Her release is very correct, going toward a long crest release with her hands resting on the crest of the neck. If she is riding above Limit equitation though, this release is too elementary. She should move to a short release by moving her hand closer to the pommel with a slack rein, and then the automatic release by dropping her hand down the neck 3–5 inches with a straight line from her elbow to the horse’s mouth with a following hand.
The horse is wearing boots, so I suspect he’s in an equitation division. He is very loose with his front end, making me wonder how he’d jump if placed deep to a vertical. He’s not a hanger, but he’s close to one. He’s jumping flat, which is preferable for equitation. Overall, though, he looks like a sweet soul.
He is very well cared for—he’s in good weight, well-groomed and beautifully braided. The bridle path should be a maximum of 2 inches long—just a little wider than the crownpiece. Other than that, this pair is beautifully turned out.
This article was originally published in the April 2018 issue of Practical Horseman.