In this photo we see a wonderful example of a rider who is really accompanying her horse and not (as we see far too often) going against the animal's forwardness. She has a super leg, with heel deep, ankle flexed, toe out and iron angled across the ball of the foot with the outside branch leading the way. Her stirrup leather is perpendicular to the ground, showing that her leg is right underneath her.
Her base of support is just right: crotch close to the saddle and buttocks out of it, giving her horse freedom through his back and keeping her center of balance over his. She does throw herself slightly too far down along his neck, which we call a duck. But her posture is very good, with a flat back, head up and eyes looking between her horse's ears.
Her only real fault -- one not uncommon in the hunter ring--is that she rides with a too-high hand and a kinky wrist. This makes her hand passive, unable to steady or turn a horse in the air. On a girl this accomplished--clearly A-show caliber--I'd like to see at least a proper crest release or, better yet, an automatic release, with the hand down along the neck and a straight line from bit to elbow.
This horse jumps beautifully, with an alert expression, a tight front end and a round topline. He is a classy partner for his capable rider, and their turnout reflects their seriousness. Everything is scrupulously clean, from the saddle pad to the horse's coat.
Reprinted from the January 2006 issue of Practical Horseman magazine. Is this photo of you? Email Practical.Horseman@EquiNetwork.com, and we'll identify you.
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