Our final rider is focused and stylish and she would be even better with a few position tweaks. Her iron is not at a right angle to the girth—instead, it’s at a right angle to her foot. She needs to adjust it so the outside branch touches the little toe and is angled so it is ahead of the inside branch. In this position, it will correctly be at a right angle to the girth, which improves the suppleness and flexibility of the rider’s leg. Other than that, she has a solid leg position with her heel down and calf in contact with the horse’s side. The stirrup length looks good as well.
Her seat is maybe a hair too far out of the saddle, which we riders tend to do at oxers. Her posture is good, though you can see in the region of her shoulders that she has a slight roach. On the flat, she could make sure her shoulders are back, but I also would not want her to get too stiff and posed. Her eyes are up and she is very concentrated on the next fence. She doesn’t have a straight line from her elbow to the horse’s mouth, but she’s getting close—she just needs to drop her hand another inch or two to have an automatic release.
This horse has a beautiful eye and ear. He also has a very good front end. His knees are up, his forearm is parallel to the ground and he’s very symmetrical. He could be a little tighter in front and he’s not very round from his poll to the dock of his tail—he’s almost stepping over this fence in a big canter stride—but he’s a very pleasant horse.
He is beautifully cared for and beautifully turned out. His coat is gleaming from good grooming and nutrition. He’s wearing boots so they’re in an equitation class. I’m not crazy about the sheepskin girth but it’s OK because it’s horse-friendly. Everything in this photo—the horse, the rider, the tack—is very clean, and that’s what horse- keeping is all about.
This article was originally published in the September 2017 issue of Practical Horseman.