Eventers have license to put their stirrup irons farther back on their feet than hunter or jumper riders do and this rider is a great example of how to do this. But I’m not advocating this stirrup position because top eventers, like Germany’s Michael Jung, ride with only one-quarter of their foot in the iron, which allows for a suppler leg. The rest of her leg is beautiful with toes turned out, heels down and ankles flexed. Some trainers teach that toes should be parallel to the horse’s sides, but I don’t agree because it pulls the calves away from the horse’s sides.
She has an impeccable base of support with her seat just out of the saddle enough. There’s no hint of her ducking, dropping back or jumping ahead. She has perfect body control. Her eyes are looking up and ahead—she has wonderful focus. Her release is closest to a following hand with an almost-straight line from her elbow to the horse’s mouth. She has excellent contact: She is giving what the horse is taking. To make it textbook perfect, she would need to lower her hand about 2 inches. Overall, I really like this rider.
This flea-bitten gray has a beautiful head with attentive and alert ears and eyes. He has an impeccable front end with his knees up by his eyeballs. You want a horse’s forearms to be parallel to the ground and this horse’s are higher. Below his knees, his right leg is a little looser than his left, and he could pull both feet closer to his elbows, but that’s not a necessity. He’s not the roundest jumper, but he jumps boldly and correctly with thrust and scope. I’d love to ride this horse.
He is also well cared for. He’s clean and trimmed with his tail pulled. The tack looks clean and understated as does the saddle pad, so the horse’s beauty is what you notice first. The rider’s turnout also looks clean, sharp and workmanlike.
This article was originally published in the July 2018 issue of Practical Horseman.