This looks like a focused rider, but she has some work to do on her leg and her release. Her leg has slipped back. She needs to work on the flat and over fences in two-point, dropping her weight down into her leg so that the leather is perpendicular to the ground. She also needs to move the iron forward toward her toe. Despite these issues, her heel is down, her ankle is flexed and her toes are out.
Her seat is too high out of the saddle and too far forward, demonstrating a slight example of jumping ahead. Her back and posture are good and her eyes are up. Instead of following the horse’s mouth down, her hands have popped up. While I wouldn’t say she is lifting the horse, she’s close to doing that. The point of a crest release is to support the upper body by pressing into the crest of the horse’s neck and giving him some freedom with a longer rein. Once this rider’s leg is stabilized, she could drop her hands a few inches alongside the horse’s neck and work toward an automatic release, where there is a straight line from her elbow to the horse’s mouth and an elastic, giving feel.
I love this horse’s big ear, large brown eye and beautiful color. Though he’s a little less symmetrical below his knees, the knees themselves are up and his forearms are symmetrical. Once the rider lengthens the rein a little and drops her hands, she will invite the horse to use his head and neck, allowing him to have a rounder back and better bascule. Once he learns to use himself better, he’ll have an even better front end.
The horse is well turned out, but I’d like to see a more attention to detail: The rider’s and horse’s boots could both be better polished. The horse’s fetlocks could be trimmed. The black saddle pad gives a musty feel to their look and all of the tack should be scrupulously clean.
This article was originally published in the October 2017 issue of Practical Horseman.