This event rider has a very good leg: heel down, ankle flexed, and toe out at an acceptable angle (between 15 and 45 degrees) to keep her calf in contact with her horse’s side.
Her seat and thigh (which form her base of support) are equally good: out of the saddle enough to free her horse’s back and neither too far ahead of nor behind his effort. Her posture is good, with back flat and eyes and head looking forward. I do sense that her back is on the soft side and so is prone to the roaching common among cross-country riders when they tire. A roached back is not a major fault, but the back is a powerful part of the riding anatomy; as it tires, a rider is likely to become rough with her hands, so we want to guard against laxness there.
She’s ably executing a solid crest release, her hand resting alongside the crest halfway up her horse’s neck.
This alert, bold horse looks to be what I call a forward-thinking jumper. He’s capable and strong; although his knees aren’t perfect and his long back is flat, he’s just showing us the style many horses develop galloping at speed across obstacles they’ve stood rather far off from. (I like a long back in a jumper for the scope it gives–but it does make collection and maneuvering harder.) Gymnastics, along with trotting and cantering him right to the base of obstacles, could help smarten up his style.
The horse looks fit, well-fed and well groomed: the most important aspects of turnout.
Reprinted from the May 1999 issue of Practical Horseman magazine. Is this photo of you? Email [email protected], and we’ll identify you.