I like this rider—her basics are excellent.
Her leg is reminiscent of those from the 1950s and ’60s. The stirrup iron is across the ball of the foot and her foot is touching the inside branch. It is twisted so this branch leads the outside, making the iron perpendicular to her foot, not the girth. Her toes are turned out almost to the maximum 45 degrees. This stirrup and foot position allows for a strong, viselike leg, which is OK for cross country, but I suggest she modernize it—you don’t see great eventers like Boyd Martin with this type of stirrup position/leg. Today we’ve graduated to a more supple, beautiful leg. Only about one-quarter of a rider’s toes are in the iron, which is placed so that the little toe touches the outside branch. This branch leads the inside, making the iron perpendicular to the girth. I like that her heels are down and her stirrup leather is properly short—there is about a 110-degree angle behind her leg.
This is how a seat should look in the air: The thrust of the horse’s jumping effort has tossed the rider’s seat just out of the saddle. Her back is flat and relaxed. The most important part of riding, her eyes, are looking up and ahead. Her hands are excellent in a short crest release. Her fingers are closed on the reins, but they are not gripping. For textbook perfection, she could drop her hands about 3 inches to create a straight line from her elbow to the horse’s mouth.
This is a solid, workmanlike horse. He has an honest, noble face with an expressive eye and ear. He’s a good jumper, though he doesn’t have textbook hunter form and he has a flattish bascule. His left leg is a little lower than his right and he lays on his left side a bit—he also throws his hocks to the right.
From my jaundiced eye, this turnout is far from elegant—it’s rustic—but the horse is in good weight and well cared for.
This article was originally published in the September 2018 issue of Practical Horseman.