This horse is jumping so high that his rider is being jumped loose, but she’s doing a good job staying with him. Her toes are turned out the maximum 45 degrees and her heels are down. The angle behind her knee is about 100 degrees, indicating that her stirrup length is correct. But her lower leg has slipped back. She’s got a bit of a rounder thigh, like McLain Ward, and people with this conformation have to work harder to have a stable leg. She can ride without stirrups to get her leg stronger so she can stay with her powerful jumper.
Her base of support is fine. Her buttocks are a little too far out of the saddle, but it’s better than the alternative of getting left behind when her horse has made such an effort. There’s a little roach in her back and her eyes are looking up and ahead. This is a proper short crest release, where her hands have moved up an inch or two and are resting alongside the crest of the neck. She could try the next level of release—the automatic release—by dropping her hands straight down the neck about 4 inches to create a straight line from her elbow to the bit and maintaining a following contact.
Her horse is 2 feet higher than the jump, which says he’s careful and scopey. His knees are almost symmetrical. He’s flat across his topline, but when a horse overjumps like this, the bascule doesn’t matter as much.
He appears healthy with some shine to his clean coat. His mane is flying all over the place, which is sort of the fashion these days, but I think it looks sloppy. The tack looks all right as does her attire. I’d like her hair contained in a bun. If she doesn’t want her hair under the helmet, then it should be tucked in a bun at the base of helmet. When hair is not contained, it could get caught on something, so it’s a safety issue as well as an aesthetics issue. But everything looks clean, which is a priority.
This article was originally published in the June 2018 issue of Practical Horseman.