Thank you to Kirsten of Ontario, Canada for submitting this photo taken while she was schooling her gelding Golddust (aka. Sunny). Kirsten has been riding for just under ten years and rode Sunny for four years.
What a wonderful team we have in this photo. It’s too bad the photo is such low resolution because that makes it difficult to see the bit and how the reins are placed in the hand, but excluding those details this is a superb example of horse and rider coordination.
It’s not a huge fence, but the height is not what makes or breaks the photo. Height should have no bearing on balance and this rider is showing wonderful balance from her deep heel, through all the angles of ankle, knee and hips, and even through her lovely flat back and her head up and looking for the next fence.
Most riders, as they move into over fences lessons, start by jumping ahead of their horse in an unconcious effort to help the horse over the fence. That is a very natural inclination and many riders watching a jumping competition find themselves unconsciously squeezing and leaning into the jump even though they are sitting on the bench. All too many riders move to the next level of jumping without finding their own balance so they are not a great help to their horse.
This rider has moved into the next phase. She is coordinated, understands her own balance, and is learning to become one with her horse. She is probably an eager and thoughtful rider who absorbs instructions from her coach and works to incorporate those instructions into her riding style. And her coach has a fine eye for detail because she’s putting it all together into a superb package with the right foundation. All that’s needed is to start doing some minor refining.
Because I’m looking at a compressed photo I’m going to be a bit general about the suggestions.
Her horse is not quite past the top of his arc and her position is just where it should be at this point in the jump. but in a blink the rider’s leg should be starting to swing forward so she doesn’t have to balance on her knees as her horse tilts down toward the ground. By then she will want her lower leg perpendicular to the ground. At this point, instead of swinging her lower leg forward, I would like to see her hip a little more closed which would bring her upper body closer to her horse’s topline. As her horse’s body begins to tilt toward the ground her leg should swing forward more so she can catch her own weight in her heels and not on her knees and the front of the saddle. At the same time her upper body will begin to straighten up to maintain her center of balance over her heels.
Also, her hands seem from this angle to be just a bit forward on her horse’s neck but that could be deceptive due to the angle of the photo.
She is using minimal tack on her wonderful, scopy horse. I love his expressive ears pointed ahead to the next fence and his outstanding front legs with knees so high and even you could sit a tray on them. He looks very tidy with his lower legs curled up and is clearing this fence with plenty of room to spare. He has a nice topline and is in good weight.
From the minimal amount of tack accessories he’s wearing, I’m guessing that he is a dependable ride and enjoys his job.
The venue looks like a riding lesson and both horse and rider are dressed appropriately. The rider is tidy in her fitted shirt with her shirt tail tucked in and gloves to protect her hands.
In conclusion, this is a rider with independent control of hands, legs and body and she’s ready to move up to some bigger fences. Whether they decide to compete in hunter or jumper, I can see this pair will be adding tough competition to the show ring.
Vickie Kayuk, Back Home in Bromont. com