This rider also has a good leg position that could use a few small adjustments. I’d like her to twist her iron more so the outside branch leads the inside and the iron is at an absolute right angle to the girth, which would allow her to put a little more weight in her heel. The leather is the correct length, which I can tell because the angle behind her knee is about 110 degrees and she is not jumping ahead of her horse. This is how a rider’s seat should look—her base of support is excellent.
Her posture is exemplary and she is looking to the left. She is demonstrating a very correct short crest release. Her hands are resting alongside the crest of her horse’s neck. She’s very athletic and can graduate to the next stage, which is the automatic release. In the last two to four strides before a fence, all she needs to do is soften her hands and lower them to create a straight line from her elbow to the horse’s mouth. She can first practice this over crossrails to get used to the idea of her hands being independent of her horse’s neck.
This horse has a good, alert expression. He has a super front end—his knees are up and his front legs are perfectly symmetrical—they look like one. He appears to be very careful, though he’s a little low with his belly.
Their whole turnout is a little rough and ready. The horse’s grooming is OK, but it could be better—I’d like to see more bloom in his coat. Her breeches and shirt are clean, but I’d like to see her boots polished to a shine and I’d like to see cleaner tack. The key to good turnout is clean. If you look at Kent Farrington’s and McLain Ward’s horses, they are always beautifully prepared. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that their turnout is impeccable and they’re first and second on the FEI rider-ranking list. It amazes me that more people don’t copy them.
This article was originally published in the March 2018 issue of Practical Horseman.