I very much like this rider’s old-fashioned leg with her foot on the inside of the iron. This foot position gives a lot of security, especially combined with a lowered heel and flexed ankle, and it is a particularly good choice for a rider with short legs. It lacks the refinement and polish riders want now in the show ring, but it remains an effective choice–especially in sports such as eventing, where security is more important than appearance.
This rider’s base of support is just as good as her accomplished leg leads me to expect. Her seat and thigh are out of the saddle just enough; she hasn’t jumped ahead of her horse, and his round, thrusty jump hasn’t jarred her loose. Her back is flat, her expression is relaxed and her eyes are focused ahead toward her next fence.
Her hand position is very good. While her short release isn’t either a pure crest release or the more advanced automatic release, in which the rider’s hands form a straight line from bit to elbow, it’s natural, soft and effective.
Her attractive horse is admirably round from poll to tail and is using his head and neck very well, though his expression and his large effort over this fence lead me to believe he’s either a little spooky or somewhat green. His knees are fine, if not spectacular: up well enough, but not square. Gymnastics where he’s trotted right to the base of fences might encourage him to tighten his front end.
The most important part of turnout–a clean, healthy, well cared-for animal–is clearly evident in this photo. While I prefer the smaller braids of American turnout, there’s nothing wrong with these large plaits, a style favored in England. And while readers know I don’t care for the colorful clothing and equipment eventers go in for because I feel it detracts from the natural beauty and dignity of the horse, I like this pair’s tidy look and clean, well-fitted tack.
Reprinted from the April 1996 issue of Practical Horseman magazine.
Lara Borson of Whites Creek, Tenn., identified herself in the photo and sent the following update:
“I just wanted to let you know the rider in the George Morris Classics is me when I was 12 on my first pony, Lara’s Theme. It was taken at Commonwealth Horse Park in Orange, Va., and I was training under Deanna Vaughn. In this photo I was competing at the Junior Novice Level. I remember this show because we ended up winning our division and I still have the hand-painted plate that was the first-place prize. (It’s sitting on my mantle.) The next year I had outgrown Lady and we sold her to a family in Illinois (where she remains, now retired to broodmare), and I sent in my favorite picture of her to the Jumping Clinic. A few months after her being sold I opened my Practical Horseman to my favorite section and there we were! It was so nice to see, and George’s comments were so positive. It was a nice tribute to a wonderful, much loved and still missed pony. I still have that issue, framed and hanging in my house all these years later. Thank you Practical Horseman and Geoge Morris–I’m still a fan over 20 years later!”