Our show hunter guru DALE PEDERSON assesses readers’ pictures
Our show hunter guru Dale Pederson critiques readers’ photographs
A picture taken from this angle really gives us a good look at the rider, especially the lower leg. It helps that it was snapped at just the right time with the horse at the top of his bascule.
It is plain to see that the rider’s leg has slipped back over the top of this jump. Her lower leg is nowhere near the girth. I believe that the thrust of her horse’s jump has caused her leg to slip back, and it’s not from lack of a good position. Her foot is placed perfectly in the stirrup iron as the ball of her foot is across the branch of the stirrup with her little toe touching the outside branch and her toe turned out.
Notice that even though her leg has slipped back, it is against her horse from her knee down to her heels. Her base of support is exemplary; she is not jumping ahead or falling back in the air. She has plenty of weight in her stirrups and with a strong position like this, she won’t be coming off this horse any time soon.
She rides with a flat back and her eyes are up and looking ahead.
Lowering her seat just a bit would allow her to open her hip angle enough that she could use her arms better. Her release is almost an automatic one with her hands alongside her horse’s neck as she follows him in the air. I would like to see her elbows come in just a bit as to not break up the line from her elbow to the bit. I like her light contact; there is no tension on the bit as her horse is not opening his mouth.
This sweet white horse is jumping in very cute form. His knees are up well above his belly, and they are even and together. He is a little loose below the knee but is giving this jump plenty of height with his feet together. His expression is alert but not spooky.
This pair is turned out beautifully. There isn’t a spot on this animal that hasn’t been groomed. The rider is dressed to impress with her lovely dark jacket and a real stock that I will bet she knows how to tie. Her boots are polished to a sheen and her tack looks well looked after.
It takes a lot of time and elbow grease to get a horse looking like this and I assure you the judges will notice. A nicely plaited mane would really add to the picture.
Speaking of judges noticing things, if you look carefully you can see that this jump is not in the cups but one end is resting on the top of the gate below. One would have to wonder if the horse before this one knocked it down and it just wasn’t noticed. We can be sure this horse didn’t touch the top rail; that’s for sure.
The second picture this month is a cross-country shot with some beautiful New Zealand countryside in the background. The jump is a very cool coop-like one resembling a house, but is very narrow, so the rider must make sure they guide their horse to the centre of the fence, if not a little to the left, to keep from having a run-out.
It takes a well-schooled horse to jump fences like this, as would it not be easier to just go around?
This rider has an overall great position, starting with her lower leg which is almost perfect. The toe of her boot is in line with the front of her girth which is hard to see as her lovely leg is covering it. Her foot is placed very nicely on the stirrup iron with a great angle allowing her to turn her toe out if needed to apply her spur. It’s a wonderful leg. The only thing I would toy with is the length of her stirrups. It looks as if her knee angle is open a little too much. This rider is long from her hip to her knee and her knee to her ankle. Maybe just a half a hole up, to close that knee angle for an even better position, especially cross-country.
She rides with a nice flat back with eyes up, peering right over her horse’s ears to stay on track. She is using a classic crest release with her hands together pressing into her horse’s neck, taking no chances of getting in the way. With her weight deep in her heels along with a solid crest release, she has a good solid base to ride with.
This horse is jumping this little house very well. His knees are up and nicely together and we are able to see the bottoms of both feet nice and even as well. The thing I like about it most is that this horse is using his head, neck and back so well. He is jumping up across the jump and not just up and over, using his entire body. It looks as if he was ridden to a nice distance to be able to jump like this as being too close to the fence would not allow him to use his body like this. His ears are pricked, and I very much like the fact that you can ride this horse crosscountry in a snaffle bit.
The horse looks to be very fit with plenty of muscle and on the lean side. His coat is a bit dull and does not have the shine one looks for on a horse who is well groomed on a regular basis.
The rider is turned out very casually with half chaps and dirty boots, but the rest of her gear looks nice. I like the dark gloves and it looks as if her helmet fits well. Her hair is contained and the safety vest is great and barely noticeable. As for the polka-dot saddle cover, I’m not sure how I feel about those, but it looks well fitting and will protect her saddle (and we all know what a grand investment a saddle can be).
This rider looks a little cramped up on top of her horse. She is not too big for her mount by any stretch, but she needs to rider taller and longer.
Her lower leg position is fine. She has her foot placed well in the stirrup iron, but her knee angle is far too closed and she needs to lengthen her stirrups so she can drop her leg and bring it forward to the girth.
Her seat is much too deep in the saddle for jumping. I would like to see her ride in a lighter seat with her buttocks a little more up out of the saddle. Her hips are much too far back in the saddle and her hip angle is almost completely closed, causing her upper body to lie down on her horse’s neck.
The angle of her elbows is too severe and she will not be able to create a straight line from her elbow through her arm to the bit.
All that being said, her overall position is really rather good and she has been taught the most important thing, and that is to stay out of her horse’s way.
If she dropped her stirrups a couple of holes she would be able to open her knee angle and drop her leg down to where it would be more effective. Then it will be natural for her to ride taller. With her shoulders up and back, her elbows will open and she will be able to bring her release back to the withers.
Always ride as tall as you can. When she sits up she will be able to keep a nice flat back and look ahead instead of down.
A lot of practice on the flat without irons would be great for this rider, discovering all the different ways to sit on a horse. But most of all, learning to stretch up and ride tall.
This cute little guy is a very safe jumper at this height. I am sure that with some gymnastics, his jumping technique could quickly improve. ■