This young rider also is showing an exemplary leg and seat, though I’d like to see her correct the roach in her back to avoid developing a bad habit at such an early stage in her riding career.
Her heel is down, her ankle is flexed and her toes are turned about 15 degrees, which is within the acceptable 15 to 45 degrees. If her toes were any more parallel, they could start to force her calf off the pony. The calf is a communicator for impulsion, straightness, bending and lateral movements. The rider looks as if she is riding with a safety stirrup, which is acceptable for this age. Her stirrup is short, which is good because this pony is a big jumper and she is able to stay with him.
She is not jumping ahead or dropping back. Her back is roached, partly because of her size and partly because of her pony’s big jump. She needs to focus on fixing it on the flat and over crossrails because it’s a weak aid and unsightly. She’s using a short crest release to support her upper body in her hands and she’s yielding to her pony’s mouth with a soft rein. It’s a beautiful position for her hands at this stage. The crest release is often criticized, but it’s not the end all or last chapter—it’s a very practical technique.
This is a super pony who is jumping a foot over this rolltop. His knees are up and symmetrical, though he’s a little loose below them. He’s also round and dropping his head, demonstrating a lovely arc.
He is beautifully cared for and his tack is neat and clean. The rider is also turned out beautifully and appropriately for her age. What I dislike about this fence and hunter courses today in general is the amount of ground lines and fill that is in front of the fences. The rolltop would be ample enough ground line. I don’t understand this obsession with ground lines in the hunter ring.
This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of Practical Horseman.