This is a great rider demonstrating security and balance, but who has a little homework to advance her release to the next level of difficulty.
The hinged stirrup irons are acceptable but not preferable. The joint that is supposed to bend, flex and absorb shock is the ankle joint, not the joint of the stirrup iron. Nevertheless, the rider’s heel is down, the iron is crossing the ball of the foot with the little toe touching the outside branch and there is contact in her calf. The angle behind her knee is 100 to 110 degrees, indicating that she is riding with the correct stirrup length.
Moving up the rider’s body, this is where you want the seat—slightly out of the saddle. Her posture is beautiful with a flat back and her eyes are looking up and ahead. She is demonstrating a well-done long release. It shows a broken line above the mouth. A broken line below the mouth is NOT acceptable. A straight line from the elbow to the horse’s mouth is preferable. To achieve this, the rider needs to lower her hands about 6 inches and maintain a light connection, following her horse’s head and neck. She is a solid rider who is perfectly capable of practicing this optimum contact.
This cute horse has a conscientious expression with his eyes and ears. His knees are up and his forearm is parallel to the ground. He’s giving this low fence a foot to spare, showing me he’s very careful. He doesn’t jump with much bascule—from his poll to the dock of his tail he’s very flat, which may limit his scope over big fences.
They have a B-plus turnout. The horse’s mane could be pulled more and trained to lie flat. I don’t like jumping in rundown polo wraps—if they get wet, they could sag. The tack looks like it could be a bit cleaner and her boots could be polished more. She could have asked a friend to wipe of the bottom of her boots—those are the details that make an average turnout great.
This article was originally published in the November 2017 issue of Practical Horseman.