Bold and relaxed with a very good position is how I’d describe this rider. Her leg is impeccable. The iron could be a little closer to her toes but it is correctly angled so it is at a right angle to the girth and her little toe is touching the outside branch. She has a correct 110-degree angle behind her knee.
You could say this rider’s buttock is a little too far out of the saddle, but because the oxer is fairly big and the horse is jumping up with a round back, the position fault is minor. The rider has a nice posture with her eyes up and looking ahead. She is demonstrating a short crest release by pressing her hands into the horse’s neck with a slack rein and light contact. Her balance is good enough that she could advance by dropping her hands a few inches down to create a straight line from her elbow to her horse’s mouth and maintain a following contact. This is called the automatic release.
This horse is a little long behind the saddle, which gives him scope. He’s got a very good front end, too, with his knees up and even if they’re not dead symmetrical. To be picky, I could say he’s throwing his knees to the left and laying on his right side just a touch. But he’s a very good jumper who wants to drop his head and neck forward and down and round his back. His hind end looks good, too, and he’s over the jump by a foot.
He is well cared for with a great coat and clean, beautiful tail. I’d like the tack to be darker, but at least it’s all a uniform color, and I’d prefer a white baby pad. The fashion is to use these ear bonnets because horses these days can’t tolerate noise, but I’d rather desensitize them to sounds. The rider is dressed for a schooling class, but it’s a little too casual for me. Seeing a horse jumping on turf is refreshing. If turf is well maintained, it’s the best footing for a horse because it has the most natural cushion.
This article was originally published in the April 2018 issue of Practical Horseman.