This child is a good rider, an athlete, with a beautiful leg. To be picky, the outside branch of the stirrup iron could be twisted just slightly farther forward, but she is correctly feeling the outside branch with her little toe. I like the iron’s heavy-duty stainless steel and its narrow width from front to back. Her toes are out, her heels are well down and her ankle is flexed.
Her seat is also fine. She’s not jumping ahead or dropping back. She’s a very balanced rider. She’s also fit, something I think riders have an obligation to be for the comfort of their horses. It’s part of horsemanship. I don’t want anorexic riders, but I don’t want them overweight either. This rider also has beautiful posture. And look how serious she is—she is not wasting her time, her trainer’s or the horse’s. I love her.
She’s attempting an automatic release, but her hands are too high and rotating back so she’s lifting this horse over the fence. You can see there’s pressure on the horse’s mouth—he’s smiling a little. This is not good for the horse because he can start to depend on being held off the jumps. While still using her leg, she needs to lower her hands a little and have a softer, more following contact on his mouth. Her pony might hit the jump the first few times, but he’ll learn to use himself better.
The pony has a big roman nose and plain head, and he’s just stepping over this jump with an uneven front end, but he appears to be safe. He’s healthy and in a good weight but there’s not much attempt at turnout. He could be better trimmed around his pasterns and his mane could be pulled. I don’t like the light-colored tack and it doesn’t seem to be well made. The trick with tack is to buy quality, which will save you money in the long run. Lesser tack wears out and breaks. I also think her boots could have more shine.
This article was originally published in the July 2018 issue of Practical Horseman.