Overall: This is a good rider who could adjust the angle of her foot and press into her horse’s neck more in the crest release.
Leg: The rider’s foot is positioned well in the stirrup—the iron is on the ball of her foot. Her toe borderlines on being turned out a little too far and a result of this is that the spur automatically goes into the horse’s sides, which she might not mean to do. Also, if you can’t control the angle of your foot and spur, you ride with a clamping leg rather than a supporting leg. Otherwise, this rider has contact with the back of her calf and not as much with her knee, which I like, along with the correct angles in her ankle and knee.
Seat: Her seat is just out of the saddle enough, indicating that she has allowed the horse to just push it out. I like her hip angle.
Release: If I had to criticize something, it would be the release. I don’t mind a crest release, but it looks as if her left hand is floating off the neck. I’d like her hands pressed into the neck more to help with her balance and ensure that she doesn’t restrict the horse’s bascule, which is the purpose of a crest release.
Upper body: It looks as if this rider’s upper body is going to come back with the release a little too soon, which would interfere with the horse’s jump. I’d like to see the release follow the horse in the air a little more. The rider’s eyes are good, looking ahead to the next fence. Her back is excellent—not rounded but relaxed. I’d like to see her stick shoved down in her hand so the knob end is against her hand, otherwise, it could hit her in the face. Also, you choose the length of the stick for what you need, and you want to have the full length available.
Horse: The horse’s overall appearance is classy. I like his alert expression as he’s looking at the next fence. His jumping style is very nice, especially for equitation—a little bit flat in the back but good with the front end. His conformation shows a nice topline.
Turnout: The overall turnout is quite good. The horse has very nice tack and boots. The girl is well dressed and her boots are polished. Everything on both the horse and rider fits properly.
What you’ll see on the video: Interestingly, in the video this rider’s leg looks much longer than it does in the photo, and she and her horse look like they are a good fit and well-suited.
I like the way the horse and rider are working out of a nice, even pace and the horse’s pleasant way of going. As in the photo, the rider’s toes are turned out too much. Also, in the air, her right leg looks more secure, supporting the horse, than her left, which shoots forward over a few fences. She seems to weight her right stirrup and sits on the right side of her seat more than her left. Riders sometimes do this to correct a crooked horse, but if she’s not doing it intentionally, it can actually make a horse crooked.
In the gallop, the rider’s arms could be more elastic. She has a little bit of a low hand and stiff arm. The horse looks as if he might get a little strong after the fences, and that’s where her arms gets the stiffest. When schooling, she could jump a line and stop him or give him a half-halt after the line to make him lighter in the mouth—though she shouldn’t do this in the competition ring!
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Practical Horseman.