This time we were excited to see the quality of photos we received! All four horse-and-rider combinations are well presented, and the horses look to be in top condition and well cared for. The riders, for the most part, display great examples of cross-country riding position, and as combinations, all three are well kitted-out with fitted tack and no loose, sloppy ends.
This photo is just about perfect. They look to be a professional partnership. The horse is in great condition (and amazingly clean we must add) with a terrific “all business” expression. Some hunter fans may complain that his front end isn’t tighter, but we think it’s just fine. He’s even in front and has his legs well out of the way, and that’s good enough for us. You’d probably find if the photo was taken a few seconds earlier he’d be a bit tighter in front because it looks as if he’s just starting to come out of his jump.
His rider is extremely competent with a good leg position. Note how her lower leg is at the girth with the weight in the heel—also, notice where her foot is in relation to the stirrup. She’s showing us a good example of the automatic release, and her eye is up and looking ahead to the next fence. She also provides a good example of a proper upper body angle. Sometimes event riders like to “fold” too much into more of a show jumping position, but her upper body position is much safer for cross-country riding.
Overall, this isn’t a terrible photo, but there are a few adjustments this pair could make to improve. The photo suggests a bold and enthusiastic pair who look like they may have just come off this drop too aggressively and could have benefited from setting up a bit more before the fence. While we need to foster and encourage this boldness in our event riders and horses, we must make sure it’s not our undoing. If nothing else, an excessively bold leap off a drop makes it difficult to make it to a skinny on a bending line if the course designer throws that your way.
Again, this horse is beautifully conditioned and turned out, and the rider is well dressed. The big problem,
again, most likely due to the over-aggressive leap, is that the rider has far too much of her balance in her hands/the horse’s mouth. Her reins are too short. She needs to slip the reins, allow her upper body to come
further back and give more freedom to her horse’s neck so that he isn’t as restricted as he looks in this photo. Once her upper body comes back, her lower leg can move forward so that she can balance more through the contact of her lower leg. Right now her hands and knees are doing all the gripping. We do like this pair, though, as they look like they’d be good fun to teach.
Here we have another pleasant photo of a well turned out, competent pair. The rider has a safe and secure position that’s technically correct. Much like our first rider, her lower leg provides a good example, and she has good angles in her hip and her knee. Again like our first rider, she’s good with her eye and in great balance over the top of her horse; not at all hampering his ability to do his job and do it well. Unlike our first rider, this rider is showing a good example of the classic crest release. She looks to be more than good enough to start utilizing the automatic release to help improve her riding even more, but that said, there’s nothing wrong with the release she’s using (for information on crest release vs. automatic we suggest you read George Morris’ Hunter Seat Equitation).
As an aside, we wonder if this rider didn’t get in just a bit too deep to this fence as her horse appears to be jumping “past” the jump a bit, and his hind end seems to be twisting to the left. That said, it doesn’t really matter as sometimes we all get too deep! Her horse is jumping well, and although not classic with his front end, he’s obviously more than scopey enough to jump in the manner he does.
Wow—what a photo! Our first thought was to wonder if this horse is for sale! This is just a perfect photo over a great big jump. The horse is pretty much textbook, and he looks like a scopey, wonderful jumper. There’s nothing at all we can find wrong with this horse.
The rider, too, is pretty much ideal. Her balance over the horse is good, her upper body position is tremendous with her seat close to the saddle and a great release. If we wanted to be super critical, we might say that her leg has slipped just a tiny bit back and could be helped via more weight in the heel. But, to be honest, that would really just be splitting hairs. There’s not much to say here as they’re an amazing pair. I hope you bought an 8″ x 10″ photo!
Leslie Law, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist for Great Britain, has also earned Olympic team silver medals and European Championship team gold, as well as the 2002 World Championship team bronze. His wife, Lesley Grant-Law, has competed at the three- and four-star levels for Canada. They reside in Bluemont, Va., and Ocala, Fla.