This rider is demonstrating where a rider’s leg belongs—her heel is down, her ankle is flexed, her toes are out a shade, her iron is at a right angle to the girth and her little toe is against the outside branch of the iron. This positon provides sufficient support and allows for great flexibility of the ankle—it absorbs the shock/concussion of the horse’s motion. The stirrup is just the right length for this long-legged rider on this wide-barreled small horse or pony.
Her base of support is fine with no hint of jumping ahead. Just above her belt in the loin area, her back is roached, which makes it relaxed but less powerful. This has to be addressed on the flat at the walk, trot and canter. There needs to be a firmness to the loins. She’s demonstrating a long crest release but her hands are floating above the horse’s crest. Instead, they should be pressed into the crest so that the crest supports the weight of her upper body.
This is a wonder pony. Look at his expression, his ears, his eye—he reeks of quality. His knees are up by his chin and are almost symmetrical. He’s an athlete. The rider could lengthen her reins and invite him to gallop to the base of the fence and jump rounder.
The horse and the tack look clean. The saddle pad is way too big for him. Her boots are also clean but she should have had someone knock them off with a rub rag. The martingale stopper should be moved down the rein toward the horse’s mouth. I can’t tell if this rider has her hair tucked into her helmet. There has been a recent argument that it is not safe for riders to put their hair up under their helmets. If that’s the case, then the option is to contain hair in a very tidy bun just below the helmet. If it’s so hot out that jackets have been waived, the choker still should be done up—an open one looks sloppy.
This article was originally published in the August 2017 issue of Practical Horseman.