I like that this rider’s heel is so far down, but it looks stiff to me. She could make it suppler by twisting the iron so that the outside branch leads the inside and the iron is at a right angle to the girth. She also could move it forward so that about a quarter of her foot is in it.
Her crotch and seat are high out of the saddle and over the pommel. This often happens when a person rides behind the horse’s motion to a fence. When the rider gets to the takeoff, she throws her body forward to catch up. Olympic gold medalist Conrad Homfeld rode behind the motion, but he still could wait on takeoff to let the horse’s thrust catch him up. This rider needs to have a spur and a stick to help her encourage the horse forward. As she approaches a low cavalletti, she needs to close her legs and relax her hands until she learns that she doesn’t have to jump for her horse. Her eyes are up and looking ahead and her posture is very good with a hollow loin. This is a great example of a short release. Her hands are a few inches up from the withers, pressing into the crest for support, and the rein is slack.
The horse has a bit of a sullen expression, making me think he’s not very generous or a little sour. He has a biggish head and his front legs are quite uneven— his left knee points down a little. However, with his long back, he looks as if he has the scope to jump a bigger, wider fence. Sometimes horses with a lot of scope can jump high with their bodies so even with a mediocre front end, they still do OK, though they can have rails in a jump-off.
The horse looks a little thin and while I like that he’s clipped, he needs more grooming to make his coat shine. His hooves could be cleaner as could the rider’s boots. Though the red shirt is bright and distracts from the horse, it is neat and fits well.
This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue.