This rider has a leg position that is almost excellent, but I would like her to move the iron more toward her toe so that only a quarter of her foot is in the stirrup. If the iron is too far back, it provides less flexibility to the ankle, though this rider’s is OK. Other than that slight iron adjustment, her leg is solid.
She has caught the contagious habit of jumping ahead—her seat is too far out of the saddle and ahead of the pommel. It needs to be much lower and closer to the saddle. She has beautiful posture with her eyes up and ahead. Her hand position is somewhere between a long and short release, but she’s trying to lift the horse over the fence. This is a very bad habit because the horse will start to use the lift as a crutch. She needs to lower her hands and press them into the crest and follow the horse’s mouth by giving with her hands. There seems to be tension in her face, and the only way to fix tension is doing the correct things over and over to gain more confidence. If a trainer drills tense riders correctly in the basics of jumping, then they will become more confident and relaxed. Fix the physical issues first, then the mental will follow.
This is a nice horse. His front end is good with his knees up and very symmetrical. From his poll to the dock of the tail is not only flat but upside down. This is very typical of how equitation horses go today, which I’m not saying is wrong. You don’t get thrown around as much on this type of jumper. But as a horseman, I see a flat style as a violation to the jump.
The horse is beautifully cared for. He’s well-groomed with no excess hair. His rider scrubbed, rubbed and groomed him to get the hair off. He is in good weight, his mane and tail are braided, he’s trimmed, the tack is scrupulously clean, the saddle pad fits well. The rider’s clothes fit well. It’s a very showy, correct turnout.
This article was originally published in the August 2017 issue of Practical Horseman.