Once again we have a very well prepared horse and rider combination. Both are spic-and-span clean showing attention to every detail of the apparel of both. I’ll state here that this team went on to win this event.
The very cute horse is displaying perfect form over this low fence with knees up and fetlocks curled in classic silouhouet. She’s still on the way up to the peak of her jump so will have no problem clearing this fence.
The rider has placed her hands for a perfect line between bit, hands and shoulder and has her heels down with the perfect 45 degree angle and there is a really good start on knee and hip angles. Her head is up and looking forward to the next fence and her elbows are tucked in. With her lower legs against the horse I’m sure she would present as tidy a picture from the front as from the side.
At first glance, this rider appears to be perfect and this is where the judging on the rider position gets more complicated. The rider is showing extremely good form for the level at which she is riding and this could be either because she is still an amateur or because she is schooling a green horse.
I am opting for amateur for two reasons. First, she is a little too far forward and high out of the saddle which has put her balance forward of her center of gravity. If her horse was to disappear out from under her and she dropped straight down to the ground she would fall forward because she’s leaning her weight on the horse’s neck. From the photo it looks like there is a large knee roll at the front of her saddle. This appears to be preventing her leg from moving more forward and allowing her seat to drop down closer to the saddle. The saddle may also have a high pommel so she is rising higher in self-defence.
A general rule is that the knee and hip angles bend enough for an equal amount of weight to be distributed to the front of the rider’s center of gravity and to the back. This means that as the angles collapse and become more acute, the hips slide to the back to counterbalance the weight of the shoulders and arms reaching forward. This rider’s hip does not extend beyond her heels and therefore most of her weight is forward on the horse in spite of the rest of the angles looking good. In order to create a better balance point, the rider’s lower leg should become more vertical while the knee bends more and the hip bends more. If she stands in front of a mirror and watches as she takes the jumping position she will see her hips slide backwards as her body bends forward and her lower leg will move only slightly forward of vertical. Once she knows what she should be feeling as she jumps it will make it much easier for her to remember that feeling and find it over the jumps.
The second give-a-way is the hands pressing into her horses’ neck. This is because she is leaning on her horse and letting her horse support the weight of her shoulders. When she acquires more balance she will be able to show the more advanced natural release by following her horses’ mouth with her hands.
Overall, a lovely picture with wonderful foundations for the future.