This rider has a good leg—her heel is well down, her toes are turned out and she has solid calf contact—but the angle behind her knee is way more than 110 degrees because she’s jumping ahead. Maybe her stirrup is too long, and she feels the need to throw her body forward to keep up with him—she could shorten her stirrup a hole and see how it feels. It also could be habit. To fix it, she needs to approach the fence and continue to relax her hands, use her leg if the horse lacks impulsion and then wait for his thrust to push her seat out of the saddle. Her seat and upper body do nothing. She must practice this until it becomes a new habit. I’d also like her to twist her stirrup so the outer branch of the iron is slightly ahead of the inner for a more supple leg.
The jumping ahead has caused her back to roach—these faults often go together. She is using a very correct long crest release with her hands halfway up the horse’s neck, pressing into it for support.
This horse has an unattractive front end. He’s really just taking a big canter stride over this low fence. His ears and facial expression indicate that he’s sour and not one of the very generous types.
I don’t care for all the sheepskin he is wearing, but if it’s necessary to prevent rubs, then it’s necessary. It appears he’s in a white happy mouth bit. I see this bit a lot in clinics, and it’s usually used because a rider can’t take contact with the horse’s mouth because he’s not educated to accept the rider’s leg and hand.
It’s popular in cold weather to ride horses in quarter sheets, but I don’t like loose ends that can get caught on something. The rider is wearing a scarf, which I do, too, but she needs to be sure it’s tucked inside her sweater so it doesn’t blow around and snag something. If it can happen, it will happen with horses.
This article was originally published in the July 2017 issue of Practical Horseman.