I like this girl a lot, both as an athlete and a rider. She has a good leg position and she’s close to an automatic release, though to be very picky, I’d like to see her upper body stay over her horse more in the air.
She is a tall girl on a pony, so first I’d have her shorten her stirrups a hole or two. This would enable her to have a better calf contact with the pony’s rib cage, though her contact is stable. I don’t care for the black stirrup irons because they’re too light and hard to retrieve if they are lost. Other than that, her heel is well down, her ankle is flexed and her toes are out.
Her base of support is good off the ground—she is not jumping ahead or dropping behind. She is opening her hip angle a little in the air and might possibly be dropping back slightly. I’d like her upper body a little more parallel to the horse’s neck. She has a beautiful, supple contact with the pony’s mouth and if her hand was just an inch lower, she would have a true automatic release. A straight line from the elbow to the horse’s mouth and supple contact are the important qualities of such a release.
This is a very good little jumping horse or big pony. His knees are up and quite symmetrical, and he’s a little rounder than the first horse. Over a bigger fence, he might use his back even more.
He looks well cared for—his coat and weight are good—but he’s not beautifully turned out. His mane looks a little unruly and there’s a lot of distracting sheepskin showing. Usually with brown boots, a rider wears beige or rust-colored breeches. Her shirt is brightly colored but sort of fits with the horse. What I really don’t like is how the fence is set. Having three open cups on the standard not only looks sloppy but also is a safety issue.
This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of Practical Horseman.