This short-legged rider with her excellent seat looks to be effective, though she’s making a mistake typical of someone her stature by riding with a too-long stirrup. The angle behind her knee looks about 140 degrees instead of 110 degrees, so she needs to shorten the leather one or two holes. She needs to reposition the iron so the outside branch leads the inside, which will create a suppler leg. But her little toe is touching the outside branch and her heel is down, her ankle is flexed and her toes are turned out. She has an even distribution of contact between her thigh, inner knee bone and calf.
Her seat is being tossed slightly out of the saddle with no signs of jumping ahead. Her posture is beautiful and her eyes are looking to the right for a turn. She is showing a short crest release, though her hands are floating above the neck. I’d rather see them resting against the neck to support her upper body. To be textbook perfect, she needs to drop her hands straight down about 3–4 inches and maintain a light contact in the air. But very few people today practice the automatic release—we’ve lost the ability to ride in balance.
This horse has a soft expression with a beautiful eye and ear and quality head. When a horse has quality, he has Thoroughbred blood—and the more, the better. His left leg is lower than his right. It worries me that he could hang that left if he came in deep to a vertical. So I’d like his front end to be more even. The horse drops his head and neck and wants to be round.
This girl and her horse are turned out in a simple way, which I admire. Everything is spotlessly clean—the horse, the tack, the breeches. The horse has been clipped but he has great bloom and he’s in good weight. The braid job is beautiful and the tack is simple, conservative and flat. The stirrup irons gleam.
This article was originally published in the January 2018 issue of Practical Horseman.