I like this rider a lot with her beautiful leg position. The stirrup iron is crossing the ball of her foot so the outside branch leads the inside and her little toe touches it. The iron looks like it has a bendable hinge, which I’m not crazy about. The only thing that should bend is your ankle joint. If you push down your heel with this iron, your foot doesn’t have a solid support. Other than that, her heel is down, her toes are out a shade and her ankle is flexed. It’s a little hard to tell if her stirrup leather is the correct length because of the photo angle, but I think it is.
Her seat is a little too far out of the saddle and she’s borderline jumping ahead. My trainer Gordon Wright used to call this doing the work of the hands with the upper body. As you approach a jump, you need to relax your hands and, if necessary, use your legs. Your horse’s thrust throws you up and out of the saddle. If a person is too forward or too high out of the saddle, she’s participated in the release with her body. I also sense that she is restricting her horse with her hands just a hair. He could stretch out his head and neck more if she had a little more give in her hands with a longer rein.
The horse has a dramatic front end—he’s jerking his knees up and they are parallel to the ground. He also has a great expression with loppy ears. I’d just like to see him have a little more freedom to round his back more.
He is beautifully groomed and braided, and the saddle pad fits well. The rider is well turned out in conservative colors. In my day, we didn’t use sheepskin covers. See how it hits the eye? Back then, if something hit the eye, you were banished. But if a horse really needs a girth cover for comfort and to avoid rubs, the rider should use one.
This article was originally published in the March 2018 issue of Practical Horseman.