Zelda was a beautiful mare. She was a chestnut, Oldenburg. I'm sure you have heard people say, "beware the chestnut mare." Well, Zelda was the trifecta of things to beware of: she was red, a mare, and a warmblood. Many horse people would say that is a combination best avoided.
To this day she is the best horse that I ever had. She taught me the most. I had my best rides and worst rides on her.
She was a princess of a mare. She was beautiful and she knew it. She was extremely heady shy to the point of me having to take her bridle apart to get it on her head. She was either really on and trying her heart out for me or like the spawn of Satan. We didn't have very many in between days!
I competed with her in dressage and eventing when I was a working student. The picture I'm going to evaluate was from the show jumping portions of one of our events. I chose this photo for its fall flare! I figured it was appropriate with the pumpkins and corn stalks.
My overall impression of this is that it is a pretty picture!
I can tell by the way my body is forward of the saddle more than it should be that I jumped ahead of Zelda. In other words, I got up into two-point too soon, which can get you into trouble if your horse decides to slam on the breaks or do anything dirty at the last minute!
Overall though, I like this. It makes a pretty picture. But now, I'm going to pick it apart!
At this point in my riding career, I had moved on from a crest release where you lean on the horse's neck to an automatic release, meaning your hands follow the motion of the horses head and neck over the jump, while maintaining a connection to their bit.
I like the connection that I have with her head, I just wish my hands would have followed slightly more forward to allow her to use her neck more. I can tell by her topline that she had a nice round bascule to her jump. It may have been even better if I would have followed just a bit more forward with my hands. But you never know, maybe they did follow a bit more after this photo was snapped! Looking at this moment in time though, I feel like my hands were restricting her.
Upper Body and Posture
Aside from the fact that I believe I had gotten in jump position too soon, I like my upper body posture –a nice flat back and eyes are up. We can hope my next jump was straight ahead since that is where I was looking!
I should have let her jump bring me naturally forward instead of anticipating when she would jump and getting so far forward. If she would have slammed on the breaks I would have been a goner.
I also think that if I had allowed her to jump to naturally bring me up out of the saddle, my release would have been better. I would have followed more naturally and it wouldn't look like I was restricting her jump sp much.
I give myself a B on my leg position. I like how I have my weight dropped down into my heel. My stirrup though should be sitting at the girth for best stability not behind it. Most likely, my leg slid back since I got in jump position too soon and over did my two-point.
I like the way my thigh and knee are resting on the saddle flap. I also like to see that my knee is not gripping so hard that it pivots my lower leg back.
I would have liked to see my lower leg right at the stirrup making an invisible straight line up to my hip. In this photo, my leg is just slightly farther back than that, which is why I give myself a B.
Zelda's knees are up nice and tight and square. You can see she has a nice bascule to her neck and back.
She was in the process of pushing off the ground when this photo was taken. It would have been cool to see the next shot where her hind end was up over the jump as well. I think that would be very telling as to how much my restrictive hands made her work harder to jump. Considering I was up in her face, I think her form is beautiful.
This is a great photo. We had a great dressage score at this particular event and a clean show jumping round. Unfortunately, a refusal at the water jump on cross-country knocked us out of the top ribbons.
What can I say? The princess didn't like getting her feet wet!