One’s first impression of this wonderful photo—Beezie Madden riding Judgement at the 2008 Spruce Meadows Masters (Alta.) in the $937,867 CN International—is of “spit and polish.” Both horse and rider are scrupulously clean and turned out in a traditional and conservative manner.
Three-point contact denotes both legs and the rider’s seat. It is one of the galloping positions used for jumping and turning. The other galloping position, two-point contact when the rider is out of the saddle, is used as an exercise position and for galloping on straight lines. In both positions the upper body remains inclined forward up to 30 degrees.
Notice Beezie’s flawless position. Her stirrup is placed on the ball of her foot, outside branch leading. The heel is down and in behind the girth with ankle flexed and calf in contact with her horse. The rider’s leg, by definition, is from the knee on down.
Her base of support, seat and thighs, is lightly touching the saddle. The Germans call this the “light seat.” And it better accommodates the horse for fast work such as galloping and jumping.
Beezie’s upper body is exemplary. Her chest is vaulted, shoulders relaxed, and loins hollow. Her eyes and head are up, looking where she’s going. There is a perfectly straight line from elbow to the horse’s mouth. Her hands are well over the horse’s withers with straight wrists and closed fingers. They are a couple of inches apart. Her “hinges”—shoulders, elbows and wrists are soft and elastic.
Her horse is loose and relaxed. He’s neither over-bent vertically nor laterally. He also won two very big classes at the Masters—the $93,787 EnCana Cup and the $32,825 Finning Welcome.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
George H. Morris
George H. Morris, a former Olympian and top international rider, is one of most revered trainers in the world. He is currently chef d’equipe for the U.S. show jumping team, which won the team gold and individual bronze medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong. He has helped a long list of successful riders, trainers and horses compete at the highest levels. He began contributing to Between Rounds in 1989.