This rider has a good leg position. Her heel is down, her toes are turned out and she has even contract in her thigh, knee and calf. I’d like her to adjust the iron so the outside branch leads the inside and her little toe touches it. This is a safety stirrup with a stiff elastic replacing the outside branch. If the rider were to fall and catch her foot in the iron, the elastic would give, releasing the foot. This type of stirrup is always permissible. The angle behind her leg is about 150 degrees, indicating that her stirrup leather is a little long and needs to be shortened by a hole or two. This has created a slight loss of balance and she has compensated for that by jumping for her horse.
Her posture is good with a flat back, and her eyes are looking up and head. Her hands are floating at least 6 inches above the horse’s crest, in what I call a “lift-and-throw position.” A rider uses this when she is trying to lift her horse off the front rails and then throws her hands forward. With this type of release, she’s also not supporting the weight of her upper body with her hands pressing into the crest. She’s a solid enough rider that she could start to practice the automatic release by dropping her hands straight down her horse’s neck to create a straight line from his mouth to her elbow. She then would be able to follow his mouth with her hands, creating an immediate connection.
The horse is average. He could be using his shoulders a little better to bring his knees up more, especially the left knee. He’s a little flat and stiff from his poll to the dock of his tail.
Their turnout is sloppy with the shirt open and the horse’s mane flying up. I also think this rider could work on her fitness. Part of riding is your fitness because the horse has to carry you. Lack of fitness makes riding harder for horse and rider.
This article was originally published in the March 2018 issue of Practical Horseman.