Overall: This rider has a classic leg position but she could work to make her legs a little stronger. She also could practice keeping her horse straight.
Leg: She has an excellent position with her foot in the stirrup. The iron is on the ball of her foot and the angle of her ankle is pointed out about 45 degrees and the outside bar is angled slightly ahead of the inside bar. All of this is classic. I like the angles behind her knee and at her hip for this size jump and the effort the horse is making. It almost looks as if the horse jumped out from underneath her and she’s a little loose in the saddle. She could work without stirrups to help make her base stronger and her leg tighter.
Release: She’s using a nice crest release. In the video, you can see that the horse tends to shift to the right so I like that she’s trying to use the opening left rein. It looks as if she’s pulling back more than actually holding the horse a little left—the opening rein should be more of a guiding rein than a pulling rein.
Upper body: Her back and shoulders are relaxed.
Horse: This horse is very cute—I love his face and expression. His jumping style could be a little tighter in front, but for what his job is, he’s doing it beautifully.
Turnout: The turnout is excellent. The horse is shiny and in good health, and the rider’s clothes look exquisite.
What you’ll see on the video: People tend to work too slow in the beginning of a course, but I think this rider is working out of a nice rhythm. She looks a little stiff in her arms, but that’s to be expected at this level. As she gets tighter with her base of support, she’ll be able to relax her arms more and use leverage by opening and closing her hip angle more than using arm strength to influence the horse. She’s trying to have correct basics, and I think overall they’re quite good. It just needs to become more natural as she gets experience.
In the rollback turn to the fifth fence, she uses her eyes well. I don’t worry a lot about distances when I teach. Instead, you have to focus on the turns and the approach to the fence more and then everything will come up better. For example, to the sixth fence, the horse cuts in and then gets a little lost about which fence he’s going to and that’s what caused the distance problem.
The horse is very cute and doing his job well. He looks like a perfect learning horse. He swaps leads at the last fence, but all the rider needs to think about at this level is working on straightness. As a teacher, I wouldn’t harp on the fact that the horse swapped—I would just emphasize that the horse shifted a little right so the rider can start to think about keeping the horse a little straighter.
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2019 issue.