This is a nice rider with a flexible ankle. Her heel is almost too far down, though I hesitate to say that because that fault is better than not enough weight in the heel. Some judges might say she is bracing her heel and leg, and I would have to agree. To fix this, she needs to shorten her leather a hole or two because there is not enough angle behind her knee. She needs to adjust the iron so her little toe is touching the outside iron and move the iron forward on her foot so it’s closer to her toe. Then she needs to ride on the flat and jump without stirrups, which will encourage her to modify the leg so it is not as braced.
Her seat is too far out of the saddle and she’s jumping ahead, but it’s not bad. It looks as if they approached the fence without enough impulsion so the rider threw her upper body forward a bit to create some. Instead, as she approaches the jump, she needs to close her leg and possibly cluck and use spur. Her back is beautiful—natural and soft—and her eyes are looking up and ahead. She’s showing a correct long release where her hands are well placed and pressing on the horse’s crest. The long crest release gives the horse ample freedom of head and neck. This release is acceptable and preferable up through Novice equitation. It’s also acceptable in any hunter competition.
This small horse has a great expression with a kind eye and beautiful ear, but as an athlete, I don’t care for him. He is twisting his front legs to the left and his right knee is lower than the left, almost hanging, over this oxer, which offers the best chance to demonstrate a good front end.
This pair’s turnout is well done. The horse looks well groomed and trimmed. The flat tack looks clean and traditional. The saddle pad fits nicely. She is conservatively dressed and her boots shine.
This article was originally published in the November 2017 issue of Practical Horseman.