Photos ©Katherine O. Rizzo
Hong Kong Brushes (27/28)
1. Amy Tryon and Leyland jump the first brush in great style. Amy is riding with her stirrup leathers too long, and she has let her reins get too long for the situation, a habit left over from the way she used to ride her great veteran Poggio. However, Leyland is a different horse, and Amy will need to get in closer touch with him to get the maximum performance out of this extremely talented young athlete.
2. When seated, Amy's knee angle is greater than 90 degrees--too long even for show-jumping, where a seated rider wants about a 90-degree angle. As a result, her lower leg has slipped back slightly and her upper body has rotated forward. Because she landed after the first brush with her reins long, she's had to lift her hands up and back to re-establish the connection. These are minor details, and in the meantime Leyland is "drawing a bead" on the next fence. What a lovely expression he has! It is just now occurring to him, "Holy cow! She is pointing me at a 5-foot-6 brush!"
3. It becomes obvious why this type of fence caused so much trouble at the 2008 Olympics. When presented at an angle to a ditch and hedge, horses tend to "pop" their outside shoulders. Leyland has suddenly realized that he was focusing on the wrong part of the fence--the 5-foot-6 hedge rather than the narrow part by the red flag. In the same instant, he is starting to react to the ditch. If horses duck out when jumping angled fences, they will duck out to the open side--here to the right. Notice the subtle shift in Leyland's shoulders and the slight bulge to the right in his body. This is trouble. Amy senses this and is getting to work with her right leg. Because her stirrups are long, she is forced to lift her heel to connect with Leyland's side. Her eyes are correctly fixed at the top of the narrow portion of the brush, and I get a slight sensation of right leg, right neck rein and left opening rein--the most effective remedy for this situation.
4. Amy's influence has worked, and Leyland understands the problem. Because she has no lever action left in her knee, she is forced to stand up at the point of takeoff. My final comment is that her long reins contribute to the straggly, sprawling sensation I get from this image. Next time, I would like to see Amy wait for Leyland to jump with her seat closer to the saddle and her reins shorter. Leyland can then form a steeper, rounder arc over the second element.