I’m impressed with this rider in her style and form. She has a beautiful leg position and an exemplary base of support, and she is approaching the more-advanced automatic release, which I very much appreciate.
She needs to adjust the stirrup iron so the outside branch is ahead of the inside, which will give her ankle more flexibility, but her heel is well down, her toe is out and her ankle is flexed. Her calf is in contact with her horse about three-quarters down her leg. Calf contact depends on the rider’s conformation. For instance, the calf contact of a tall rider on a narrow horse will be higher on the horse, about halfway down the leg.
This is what a base of support should look like: Her buttocks are just out of the saddle and she is not jumping ahead or falling behind. Her upper body, with its hollow back, is perfection. Europeans criticize that look, but when you form a rider, a hollow back gives you a strong back aid whereas a roached back is weak. I like how she’s moved her hands from the top of the crest to alongside the neck, heading toward an automatic release. To label a release as truly automatic, there needs to be a straight line from the rider’s elbow to the horse’s mouth.
The horse is a great jumper with his knees up and symmetrical. He isn’t using his back—he’s a bit of a stepper—but I would feel comfortable jumping him over the rail fence out of the ring.
He looks well taken care of with a trace clip and very clean coat. I like the flash crossing the bridge of his nose high enough so it doesn’t affect his breathing. I don’t care for the blue boots and saddle pad because I think it detracts from the beauty of the horse. I also don’t like the look of the footing in the ring. It looks very hard and dry, which can scratch a horse’s pasterns.
This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of Practical Horseman.