AN has excellent balance. He's staying with his horse. His weight is down into his knee, which is more important than having your leg at the girth.
Go type 'John Whitaker' into Google Images. Same thing -- weight down into the knee (but not gripping with the knee) -- and lower leg wherever. This man has the best balance I've ever seen on a horse.
However, Steinkraus was a perfectionist about leg position (and everything else) and wrote that when he saw riders with the flying lower leg, he wondered if they'd be that much better if they stuck to the classic position. I don't have his book with me or I'd give you the quote. It's a good one.
Balance is ultimately a bit quirky and individual. Odd conformation -- like Spooner or Rodney Jenkins or Hugo Simon -- often leads to unorthodox-looking riding when the jumps are big. But the balance is always there, and that's what the rest of us should be striving for.
FWIW, Mike Plumb still focuses on balance every day and every ride.
I thought Nicolson's round on Quimbo almost looked like a 4' working hunter round. No snatching and grabbing or arguments with his horse. *cough* US riders *cough* His leg might be unconventional, but as JER said his balance was impeccable.
I am strictly a dressage rider and ventured over here to read discussions about AN. Before this weekend, I had never watched him ride. The reason I am so fascinated with him is he rides will most no rein pressure and rides as still as possible. He uses his back to balance himself with the rhythm of the horse and does not interfere with his horse's balance. Hence the one-handed water jump- all to stay out of the horse's way. This establishes enormous trust with his horse. He is the most effective rider I have ever seen. I'm sure the leg back issue is to get out of the horse's way.
Quimby is another story all together. What an amazingly balanced and athletic horse that is completely content. He's the most perfect horse I've ever seen.
I knew they would win after watching their dressage.
Agree, they were both incredible.
A pleasure and a privilege to be alive to see this, enjoy it, savor it. It was a rare and wonderful performance, and something that all eventers should both appreciate and aspire to.
Or this gentleman, in the SJ Hall of Fame, Joe Green. This photo on the wall of the Rolex Arena at the KHP shows a definite unique style.
Originally Posted by JER
That picture of Andrew jumping into the Head of the Lake is priceless.
This bears repeating.
Originally Posted by subk
The weekend in KY was hard to watch at too many times.
The George Morris school of "form over function". I know he did not mean to do this, but in some ways he has done a lot to damage the art of riding in the USA.
LOL My legs never do that and I could never ride like that!
He is masterful~ He gets the job done, Well done! :D
His SJ round was so soft and rhythmic, I agree it looked like a nice hunter round. It looked effortless, balanced, and gorgeous! He kinda just set up a nice rhythm and let Quimbo do a fantastic job and his horse just looked happy!
Sadly, I'm not that good even in my wildest fantasies!
I don't know that anyone is quibbling. It's just a good question for discussion!
Originally Posted by merrygoround
AN really does make it look easy. That Head of the Lake photo makes him look like he is out on a Saturday morning trail ride.