This rider is doing a fantastic job. Her leg is beautiful, with her heel down, ankle flexed, toe out, and calf under her and in contact with her horse. Her base of support (seat and thigh) is equally good: It's out of the saddle enough to free him, but not exaggerated. Her back is flat and relaxed, and her head and eyes are up.
I very much like her short crest release, pressing her upper-body weight down into the sides of her horse's neck. Moving her hands just a few inches lower would give her a textbook-perfect automatic release: an advanced release for those who are in perfect balance, don't need the neck for support and can keep their hands in a straight line from bit to elbow.
Her cute horse has great color and a pretty little dished face. He seems to have scope, too, and he's nice and round through head, neck and back. Unfortunately, his legs are poor. His right knee is lower than his left, and both legs are hanging so low that they border on dangerous. He's jumping a wide fence here, so he's almost certainly worse over a straight up-and-down fence--I wouldn't ride him over one. He might benefit from trotting tight gymnastics, but I'd be careful not to scare him by working without a ground line. He needs patient, careful schooling.
Eventers know I prefer quiet, conservative clothing, and I'd like to see this rider trim her excess stirrup leather, but her horse is in good flesh and very clean.
Reprinted from the January 1997 issue of Practical Horseman magazine. Is this photo of you? Email Practical.Horseman@EquiNetwork.com, and we'll identify you.
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