This rider has an old-fashioned leg position with the foot touching the inside branch and the toe cocked out. This allows for a viselike grip, though sometimes it can make the leg too strong. I’d like her to adjust the iron so that her little toe is touching the outside branch and the outside branch leads the inside branch. A stirrup iron in this position will help make the rider’s leg suppler and allow her to push even more weight down into the heel. Her stirrup length looks correct.
Her seat needs to be a little farther out of the saddle at this point in her horse’s jumping arc so that she doesn’t interfere with it, which could cause him to hollow. Her eyes are looking up and a little to the left. Her posture is good, too. She’s demonstrating a nice short crest release by moving her hands a few inches in front of the withers and pressing them down into her horse’s neck; the rein is slack. This type of release supports the rider’s upper body while giving the horse some freedom.
The horse appears to be a nice fellow. I can’t tell his expression, but he’s very good with his front end: His knees are up high and they’re very symmetrical. He’s not the roundest jumper.
He looks well-groomed and his mane has been pulled. He’s been clipped and trimmed. The saddle and tack all look clean and the saddle pad fits well and is white. That’s all management is: clean. I don’t like the stirrup irons and I think they can be dangerous. I prefer heavy stainless-steel irons so if you lose an iron, you can easily find it again and it doesn’t swing around like some of the newer, lighter ones. I’m not a fan of colors in rider turnout, but at least these match.
This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of Practical Horseman.