Nothing is more important to me than leg position, so I remind readers to send photos where I can see all of their leg. Nevertheless, I can see this rider’s leg is stable, just behind the girth. Her heel is lower than her toe, her ankle is flexed, her toes appear turned out and she has contact in her calf.
Her seat is too far out of the saddle. She needs to allow the thrust of the horse to open her knee angle, close her hip angle and toss her seat out of the saddle just enough—here her seat needs to be 2 to 3 inches closer. Her posture is impeccable, and I particularly like her short release. Her hands are alongside and pressing into the base of the crest. The stage is set for an automatic release: She just needs to drop her hands straight down about 3 inches to create a straight line from her elbow to the horse’s mouth and maintain a light contact that doesn’t interfere with his jump.
I like this horse’s gentlemanly expression. His knees are up, but he’s loose below them. He also is jumping aggressively past his arc with no bascule. This is typical when jumping cross country out of a longer stride. Show jumping is different because the horse has to jump off a shorter stride and be rounder. To improve this horse’s technique, the rider can trot him to the base of jumps. He’s such a solid horse with a big head and shoulder, she might consider a bit that would help her reel him in if he gets strung out. Very few horses can gallop and jump with just a fat snaffle. She could try a bit with a slow twist. She might say his mouth is like butter, and I’m not disputing her, just giving her food for thought.
Most eventers are either much better cared for than show jumpers or worse. This one is better. His coat is in full bloom, he’s well-groomed and he’s in good weight for eventing. I admire the care of the horse and appreciate the conservative colors the rider is wearing.
This article originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of Practical Horseman.