I like this rider’s potential, but she needs to fix a few things. I’m a fan of her old-fashioned, heavy-duty stirrup iron, but you can see that she’s reaching for it. There is very little angle in her knee, so she needs to shorten it a few holes. This would solve two things: She won’t be pointing her toe to hold the iron on her foot and she’ll be able to put more weight in her heel. If she shortens it and works in two point, in a day or two, she’ll have a very different leg. The stirrup is perfectly placed with a quarter of her foot in the iron, which is at a right angle to the girth.
The long stirrup has affected this rider’s leg stability, so she feels she needs to stay in balance by catching up with her horse by jumping ahead. Her buttocks are too high out of the saddle and too far forward. Her posture is very good, very flat, and her eyes are up and ahead. She’s showing us a long crest release, which is halfway up the horse’s neck. This ensures maximum freedom for the horse and also puts the rider into the jumping position, but she doesn’t have as much control. This rider could work on a short release and once she shortens her stirrup could start to practice the automatic release.
The horse has a lovely expression and jumps pretty well over this large fence. His knees are parallel and symmetrical, though he’s a little loose below them. He’s also a round jumper. He’s a long horse with scope, but he might be harder to collect and be a little slow as opposed to quick and agile across the ground.
The horse’s turnout is average. He appears a little gaunt in the hips and the body clip has resulted in lack of shine on his coat. The ugly saddle pad is not helping to dress him up, but I like the high figure-eight noseband for a jumper.
This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of Practical Horseman.