First impression: This rider needs to strengthen her leg by working without stirrups and pressing her hands into the horse’s neck in the air and grab mane.
Watch the video below and listen to Beezie's comments and suggestions:
What you’ll see in the video: After watching the video, I think this rider’s leg has slid forward in the air in the photo because it’s loose. As she approaches the first fence, I can see it swinging. The floating release is kind of obvious here, too. I’d like to see her work without stirrups to get her lower leg tighter because she’s on a horse who is jumping very generously. This type of horse is difficult for a rider of this level, but I’ve seen a lot of people in this situation grow and be very successful.
You can see at Fence 6, an oxer, she gets long and a little left behind and that’s the last thing you want to do when your horse gives you a good effort. At Fences 7AB to 8, a one-stride combination five strides to an oxer on the far side, if she reached up and grabbed a little mane, she’d stay with the horse’s motion, ensuring she wouldn’t come back on his mouth or back. At Fence 9, an oxer, the horse is jumping even higher because he had those fences on the far side that were long and she got left. A horse with confidence will jump higher in a good way, but sometimes a careful horse who is losing confidence and getting scared will do it to, which is my sense here. This unseats the rider more. You want to be careful not to discourage a horse from making those good jumps or have a rider get nervous so she’s getting unseated. There’s nothing wrong with grabbing a little mane, I do it every now and then myself. Especially for a rider of this level with a horse who jumps so generously, I’d rather see her grab mane in the air, get more secure in her leg by working without stirrups and be able to stay with the horse. Then I think they’re going to go on to some great success.
Leg/Seat: Her foot is hard to see because the standard is blocking it, but her lower leg has slid forward in the air. This has caused her seat to be too far behind the pommel of the saddle, which affects her balance. She’s behind the horse’s motion and trying to catch up with it so she also has closed her hip angle too much. The downside of being behind the motion is that as your horse follows through with his jump with his hind end, you’ll get thrown forward.
Release: Even though this rider is using a short crest release, I’d like to see her reach forward a little more with her hands to allow the horse more freedom. Also her hands are floating above the horse’s neck. I want her to press them into the neck so she doesn’t risk falling back on his mouth or back.
Upper body: Her back looks good—flat but not stiff. Her eyes are excellent, looking ahead to the next fence.
Horse: The horse has a really good expression and is generous with his jumping. For this size fence, he’s high over it. His style is good—his knees are up and he looks like he’s going to use his back quite well.
Turnout: The turnout is excellent. The horse’s coat is shiny, and the tack looks good. The rider is well dressed and her boots are shiny, too.
About Beezie Madden
Beezie Madden captured Olympic show-jumping team gold medals in 2004 as well as 2008, where she also earned the individual bronze medal, all riding Authentic. She won the FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in 2013 with Simon and in 2018 with Breitling LS. Other accolades include an Olympic team silver medal in 2016 riding Cortes ‘C’, with whom she also took World Equestrian Games team and individual bronze medals. S Most recently, she won the prestigious CP ‘International’ at CSIO Spruce Meadows in September. he and her husband, John, are based out of John Madden Sales in Cazenovia, New York.
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2020 issue of Practical Horseman.