This rider is correct in most of her riding basics, but she needs help in her horse-management skills. Her leg position is impeccable with the iron at a right angle to the girth, a quarter of her foot in the iron and the leather perpendicular to the ground. Her heel is down, her toes are turned out and her calf is in contact with the horse’s side. She could try shortening her stirrup a hole if she feels she is reaching for the iron—the angle behind the knee is a little wider than the correct 110 degrees.
Her seat is also just far enough out of the saddle—she is not jumping ahead or dropping back. She is ducking with her upper body—throwing herself down alongside the neck of the horse. Her short crest release is trying to lift the horse off the ground—she is very slightly picking up her hand and rotating it back and down. She needs to press her hands into the crest of the horse’s neck. She also could lower her hands 4–6 inches and follow his mouth with a soft contact, inviting him to drop his head and neck and jump rounder.
This horse has a good expression with alert ears and eyes. His knees are up and his forearm is parallel to the ground, though he could be tighter below the knees. From the poll to the dock of his tail, he’s inverted—the rider’s slight lift of the hand is contributing to that. In addition to following his mouth more, the rider could practice trotting deep to the fence and getting off his back to encourage him to jump rounder.
This is very poor turnout of horse and rider. The horse’s coat is dull and his mane needs to be pulled and trained to lie flat. The tack looks dirty and the rider’s boots need to be polished and the brown spur straps should be black. The first criterion of horse management is everything must be scrupulously clean—dirty predisposes accidents and disease.
This article was originally published in the September 2017 issue of Practical Horseman.