This immaculately decked out horse and rider team has a lot going for them.
The horse is in superb shape with obvious attention to every detail of his health and accessories. He has been brushed until he glows and the dappling attest to his good health. He obviously enjoys his job and has a perky, determined attitude with ears forward, knees up and hooves tucked all the way up to his belly. His braiding has been done with military precision and saddle pad has been chosen to fit the saddle.
His rider is equally polished in gleaming boots, conservative pants and well fitted jacket. together they present a picture of grooming perfection.
Both horse and rider are intent on getting to the other side of the fence. I’m not sure in this photo where the next fence is, but from the direction both are looking I would guess that this is the first fence in a line.
The one negative in this picture is the almost perfect straightness of the rider’s leg. The rider is no longer following the movement of her horse but has thrust herself completely out of the saddle and up onto her horse’s neck. Most of her balance is far forward with her hip above the knee rather than the heel. If her horse should knock a rail she would be hard pressed to get back into the saddle. In her defense, she is tall and often a long leg means that the knee roll of the saddle prevents the knee from sliding forward so she’s compensating by going over the saddle and straightening her leg. She may find that a flatter saddle with a lower pommel and either smaller knee rolls or more forward flaps and shortening her stirrups by two holes will allow her to slide forward without feeling that she has to jump the fence herself. The extreme distance out of the saddle has also caused a break in the line between bit, hands and shoulder. If her knees were bent and her shoulders were back in line with the reins the whole picture would be more balanced. When she shortens her stirrups she will probably also have to turn her toe in somewhat or her spur may catch the side of her horse at an inopportune time.
Having said all that, I have to add that she is a thoughtful and careful rider who makes sure that her horse has freedom from any rein interference over the fence. Her lovely flat back and posture tell me that with the above adjustments she will be brilliant. Also, congratulations are in order. I saw from the photo collection that she and her beautiful hunter did win the class.
by Vickie Kayuk