Our first rider is good in terms of technical skill—I’d give her a score in the high 80s—but she needs help with turnout. She has a great leg, where the iron is correctly angled across the ball of her foot so the outside branch is ahead of the inside and her little toe is touching the outside. This allows for a supple ankle. Her toes are turned out and she has her calf on her horse. The angle behind her knee is a little open—it should be between 100 and 110 degrees—indicating that her stirrup leather is too long by at least a hole.
Her buttocks are too far out of the saddle because she is standing in her stirrups. Approaching the fence, she must use her legs if necessary to maintain forward momentum and then wait for her horse’s jumping thrust to push her seat out of the saddle just a little. Her posture is excellent. Her crest release is floating above the horse’s neck. She needs to lower her hands so they’re on either side of the horse’s crest and press them into the neck to support her upper body.
The horse is very cute with an alert expression. His knees are way up and he is very symmetrical from his elbow to the point of his toe. He jumps a little flat, which horses with good front ends tend to do.
While the rider’s technical skill is very good, her horse management needs more effort. There is dried sweat on the horse’s neck, which tells me he either needs grooming or a body clip. Not only does a long coat look unattractive, it’s unhealthy. As he cools down, he could catch a chill and get sick. His mane needs to be pulled, and the tack needs to be cleaner. I don’t like elastic breastplates because I saw a horse whose saddle had slipped back. The elastic didn’t break and he choked. The saddle pad takes my attention away from the horse. The rider’s boots are unpolished and her hair is flying out all over the place.
This article was originally published in the June 2018 issue of Practical Horseman.