I get the sense that this is a good rider, and as my eye moves over her position, I can see that she has all the elements of correct style that make for correct, successful equitation. Her leg is very, very good, with her heel down, ankle flexed and toe out. It is correct, with no exaggerations. Her calf is on her horse, and the angle in her knee tells me that her stirrup is exactly the right length.
Her base of support, too, is excellent, with her seat out of the saddle. She is waiting for her horse, and while her seat is close to the saddle, she is not dropping down into it. I would caution her to be careful, though, as high-headed horses like this one tend to push their riders back. Her head is up, her eyes are looking between her horse's ears, and her back is flat and relaxed.
I like her short release, with her knuckles resting against her horse's crest, but I'd like her to try using an automatic release with her hand about 2 inches lower. This would give her a straight line from bit to elbow and would finesse her control. She is skilled enough that she can use a following hand because she does not need her horse's neck for balance.
Her horse is breedy with a refined head and a lovely eye and ear. He is not a stylist, however, as his legs are loose and sprawling, and his back is so hollow it is actually inverted. He's not having any trouble with this fence, but he isn't showing classic hunter form.
This team is turned out like winners. They reek of class, and everything about them is trim and clean. I would note that, strictly speaking, rust breeches are traditionally worn with brown boots—but even I occasionally wear black boots with them instead.
This article originally appeared in the April 2008 issue of Practical Horseman magazine. Is this photo of you? Email Practical.Horseman@EquiNetwork.com, and we'll identify you!