This rider has an excellent leg with her toes turned out in accordance with her conformation, her heels down and her ankles flexed. Her stirrup-iron placement is helping with that flexion because her little toe is touching the outside branch and the iron is crossing the ball of her foot at an angle so the outside branch leads the inside. The angle behind her knee is just right, between 100 and 110 degrees at this point of the jump.
She waited for her horse’s thrust to push her seat out of the saddle just enough so that he can lift his back to jump yet she’s not in danger of falling off if he props or stops. Her posture with a flat back is beautiful. She’s attempting a crest release, but her hands are floating above the horse’s neck as were our first rider’s. The point of such a release is so the rider can rest her hands on either side of the neck to support the upper body. Except for that, she has a very good position.
This pony has a good, alert attitude and nice ear and eye. He is just taking one big canter step over this fence. He’s split his legs so the left one is down and the right one is up. This is not dangerous like hanging, but it’s not attractive and may indicate that he’s bored. But he’s safe for a young rider, which is important, and hopefully giving her confidence in her riding. He’s not dropping his head or neck and is hollow in his back.
I like that the pony is clipped and braided, but his coat is dull. Even with clipping, you have to groom them to bring bloom to a coat. I also think the rider’s boots could be cleaned and polished. Readers should study photos of the turnouts of Olympians McLain Ward and Beezie Madden and try to emulate them.
This article was originally published in the June 2018 issue of Practical Horseman.