This is a wonderful rider, one of the best we've had in this column. Everything about her is soft, natural, and relaxed. Her heel is down, her stirrup is on the ball of her foot, and her toe is turned out slightly; as a result, her flexed yet natural ankle functions as a shock-absorber. Her leg contact is correct from calf to thigh.
She's coming back into the saddle, which is correct for this phase of a drop jump. When she lands, she'll be in slightly behind the motion, giving her added security in case anything unexpected happens.
Her back is soft to the point of being slightly roached, but I'm not critical of it because she's a gifted, natural rider with a lot of feel. Her eyes and head are up, and she's looking in the direction she's going. Her expression is relaxed and confident.
She's using a short crest release correctly over this drop jump: Her hands are closer to the withers than they'd be in a long release, and she has a slight contact through the reins, giving her added control over her horse. Her hands and arms are very relaxed, contributing to the overall picture of security, balance, and suppleness.
This very attractive horse shows a lot of quality through his head and neck. It's hard to evaluate jumping style in the landing phase, but from his physical type I suspect he's not particularly tidy with his legs. He strikes me as a long, low, galloping type of thoroughbred. If that's the case, trotting fences and in-and-outs and gymnastics with short distances might help his style.
The turnout is adequate for eventing.
This article originally appeared in the December 1991 issue of Practical Horseman magazine. Is this photo of you? Email Practical.Horseman@EquiNetwork.com, and we'll identify you!