This rider has a superb leg and impeccable base of support. She has the right stirrup length with a 110-degree angle behind her knee. Her heel is down, her ankle is flexed and her toes are turned out, which allows her calf to be in contact with her horse.
Her seat has been tossed out of the saddle just enough—she has made no attempt to jump ahead. Her posture is textbook perfect with a flat back and slight hollow in her loins. She has a lot of contact with the curb rein, which tells me the horse is strong. She might have to have this much contact, but it invites the horse to jump hollow and flat. Other than this, she is showing an acceptable short crest release with her hands 2 inches up his neck. She could drop her hands straight down the neck 3–4 inches and create a straight line from her elbow to the horse’s mouth to achieve an automatic release. This type of release requires the rider to be balanced so that her hands can be independent enough to follow the horse’s head and neck forward and down.
The horse looks like a sweet soul. His forearm is parallel to the ground and his knees are up, but he’s loose and uneven below them. He’s not dangerous, but he’s just stepping over the jump. He’s hollow from his poll to the dock of his tail to the point where he’s almost upside down. He’s a prime candidate for equitation because his flat jumping helps a rider maintain position.
I’d give the turnout a C. The horse is adequately groomed and the tack is adequately clean. The saddle pad fits well and the rider’s clothes are conservative and well-fitting. But the horse’s and rider’s boots could be cleaner and the horse’s mane is flying all over the place. While I like that the saddle looks good for jumping—light and not bulky—it looks like it could be better cleaned and oiled, too.
This article was originally published in the January 2018 issue of Practical Horseman.