This rider looks athletic and gutsy. She also has more of her foot in the stirrup iron than is ideal. If there was only about one-third of her foot in the iron, she could sink more weight into her heel. Though having the iron “home” like this is acceptable when riding cross country, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary. When I see photos of elite riders in dressage, cross country and show jumping, their foot position in the iron doesn’t change from phase to phase. Though this rider has nice contact with her leg, she could shorten her leather a hole because she’s reaching a bit for the iron, compromising her stability.
Her base of support is excellent. She is not jumping ahead or dropping back and her buttocks are out of the saddle just enough to allow the horse to use his back. Her posture is good and she is looking to the right and applying pressure on the right rein for what I assume is a right turn. This is good use of the eyes. She is riding with an acceptable broken line above the horse’s mouth, where there is one line from her elbow to her hand and another line from her hand to his mouth.
This beautiful gray is a powerful, scopey jumper. Yes, he could be tighter below his knees, but they are up by his chin and they’re symmetrical. He wants to use himself and be round in his bascule. He looks like his mouth is open just a little, which could make him a little stiff in his contact. I suggest trying a flash noseband or figure eight to help keep his mouth closed without restricting his breathing. The rider also could do lots of transitions to help make him suppler.
This horse is well cared for. He’s very clean, which is challenging with a gray horse, his tail has been pulled and banged and he’s been trimmed around his pasterns, his muzzle and his ears. The tack is clean as are her breeches and boots.
This originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of Practical Horseman.