Our first rider’s stirrup iron is exactly correct: She is touching the outside branch with her little toe and the iron is twisted so that branch leads the inside, making the iron perpendicular to the girth. This allows for a supple leg. The rider’s lower leg has slipped back because she has too much grip in her knee. As a consequence, her knee is acting like a pivot, sending her lower leg back. This is a bad habit that she can fix by riding on the flat and over small fences without stirrups, which naturally puts a rider’s leg in the correct position. She will be able to put more weight in her heel once she adjusts her lower leg.
Most riders who pinch with their knees and let their legs slip back then tip forward with their upper bodies. But this rider is not doing that—her seat is out of the saddle just enough—and her posture is natural and relaxed. She appears to be turning to the right with a nice coordination of aids to indicate that direction to her horse. She is looking with her eyes and her left rein is acting as a neck rein, pressing against the neck. I suspect her right rein is opening a little to help lead her horse to the right. This is a proper short crest release, but this rider looks advanced enough to try an automatic release. To do this, she must lower her hands a few inches to create a straight line from her elbow to the horse’s mouth and follow his mouth.
This is a very cute horse whose knees are up and even. He’s got a flat bascule—if you set a ruler from his poll to his withers to the dock of his tail, it would be almost a straight line.
The turnout is rough and ragged. The horse’s coat doesn’t have a bloom, which requires elbow grease. He looks like his fetlocks could be trimmed better and his mane pulled. His boots look dusty and I’m not a fan of the gray saddle pad.
This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue.