This horse and rider are beautifully turned out, which should be the standard for all riders regardless of discipline. Her leg needs some work, but she’s one of the few riders demonstrating a textbook automatic release.
She is pinching with her knee, and as a consequence, her leg has slipped back. I think this is just a bad habit with her because her stirrup is the correct length and the iron is correctly positioned on her foot. She needs to practice keeping her heel down and distributing the weight evenly among her thigh, inner knee bone and calf. To do this, she can practice riding without stirrups, first on the flat and then over low fences.
Her base of support is a little high—I’d like her seat closer to the saddle. This fault is called jumping ahead. Her back is impeccable, neither too stiff nor too round. Her eyes are looking up and ahead. She has a perfectly straight line from her elbow to the horse’s mouth and she is not relying on the horse’s neck for her balance, which takes practice. In my day showing at the National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden, you didn’t get a ribbon if you didn’t use the automatic release, a hallmark of which is maintenance of a light, following contact.
This horse is a dream of an equitation mount. He has a cute head and expression and his front end is very good with his knees up and very symmetrical. He jumps flat, which is what you want in an equitation horse so the rider has an easier time maintaining position. From his poll to the withers to the dock of his tail is a straight line.
He is impeccably turned out. He’s clean and in good weight. I love the well-fitting white saddle pad. The whole picture is clean and very simple and elegant, so the attention is on the beauty of the horse.
This article was originally published in the November 2018 issue of Practical Horseman.