Though our final rider could make some adjustments to her stirrup iron to modernize her leg, she’s the real deal—I like her.
Her foot is almost home in the iron and on the inside branch, which is an old holdover from the military style of the 1950s. She needs to move the iron so it’s on the ball of the foot and twist it so the outside branch leads the inside and touches her little toe—this places the iron at a right angle to the girth. Otherwise, she has an excellent leg with her heel down, ankle flexed and toe out. Her calf is in contact with the horse and the stirrups are short enough for this big-barreled horse so there is no sign she is slipping.
Her buttocks could be a little closer to the saddle in the air but they’re not bad. She’s very independent with her hands, showing a straight line from her elbow to her horse’s mouth and a beautiful following hand and soft, elastic contact. This is an automatic, or following, release. It’s also known as jumping out of hand. I was there when Gordon Wright coined these phrases—they work well, from a teaching perspective, to communicate with students.
This is a very cute horse with an impeccable, dramatic front end—his knees are way up near his chin. His body is the lowest point, so he’s a bit of a belly jumper, but he’s very careful. He looks fast and competitive.
Their turnout is better than most. The horse is very clean with a very white mane, though it could be trained better to lie flat. All of the tack is clean and well-fitting as is the rider’s attire, which is conservative. I can see specks of mud on the rider’s boots but I think that’s from a muddy track.
This article was originally published in the June 2017 issue of Practical Horseman.