Overall: This rider is accurate to the fences but she would create a more effortless-looking round if she lightened her seat and reorganized her horse’s rhythm at the ends of the arena.
Leg: This rider’s knee angle looks good, but she’s pinching with her knee, which might be making her lower leg a little insecure. I’m speculating about this, though, because the standard is hiding her heel and ankle.
Hip angle: For this height fence, I like this rider’s angle, and she looks like she has control of her balance in the air.
Upper body/release: Her eyes are looking up and ahead to the next fence, and her back is flat. This picture is taken a little late—the horse is already unfolding his legs—but I’d like to see her give the horse more release to let him round in his back more.
Horse: He has a nice expression. Evaluating his jumping style is hard, though he looks a little flat in his back.
Turnout: The horse has a beautiful coat and braid job, the tack is fitted properly and the hunter bridle looks nice. The rider’s turnout is good and everything fits well. I am not a fan of sunglasses, but maybe she needs to wear them. I think sunglasses are a bit of a safety hazard if you fall, and you need to worry about whether they’re properly adjusted. Also when I wear sunglasses, I feel like my depth perception isn’t as good.
What you’ll see in the video: Note that the horse in the photo is not the same as the horse in the video. Overall this is a good round. The rider looks as if she is very accurate to the fences, and the horse is a nice, pleasing jumper. There are some little things she could work on to make it even better.
I’d like to see her in two-point when she picks up the gallop and after the jumps at the ends of the ring. She looks a little heavy in her seat, especially for a hunter class. After the first fence in the lines, she does get in her two-point, and that’s the position I’d like to see all the way around to help the round look more effortless, which is important in hunter divisions. She might be sitting because the horse looks like he wants to pop her out of the saddle a bit, especially during the flying changes, but he needs to learn to travel with the rider in a lighter seat.
The horse also drifts left over the first and last fences, so the rider needs to work on straightness. In the turn to the diagonal line, he gets a little strong and goes past the distance. The rider needs to slow him down and reorganize the rhythm before the turn. She also needs to do that before the turn to the last fence for a smoother jump.
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Practical Horseman.