We found this photo on the equisearch.com forums. It was posted a number of years ago and asked for critique from the general public. The horse was apparently used for Huntseat and Western Pleasure.
This photo immediately reminded me of an old riding instructor and her unique instructions to me one lesson. The first time I heard them I laughed so hard I almost fell off. Before I tell you what those words were, let me first set the stage:
I was about 16 years old and my instructor at the time was a middle aged, petite, English woman. The word that comes to mind when I think of her is “non-threatening”. Her mannerisms were always very proper, very polite, very… English. She never swore. And 95% of the time she was sitting on her portable chair, coaching me in tones not unlike those of Mary Poppins.
One lesson, and I don’t even remember what we were working on, but I couldn’t seem to keep my eyes up or shoulders back. My instructor must have been getting frustrated with me because all of a sudden she yells “TITS UP! POINT THOSE TITS TO THE SKY!”
I was shocked! Flabbergasted! Speechless! Taken aback and floored, all at once! All riding ceased, and my horse came to a confused halt as I attempted to collect my jaw from the floor. Then the laughter started. I couldn’t stop! At one point I was lying on my horse’s neck. Thankfully he didn’t do anything naughty because at that moment there was nothing I could do but laugh. And then the lesson continued and wonder of wonders – my tits stayed up! Best. Instructor. Ever.
Well kiddies, story time is over but the lesson is still relevant. The rider in this photo needs to point her tits to the sky! Her horse looks very cute and relaxed, but right now he’s moving heavily on the forehand and not tracking up behind at all. Raising her chest will get her eyes up, her shoulders back and shift her weight back, which in turn will help her push her horse forward and lift it off its forehand. It may just be the photo angle, but it looks like the horse is built downhill. If that’s the case, it’s especially critical that she adjust her upper body, as a bum-high horse is going to be naturally inclined to move in this manner.
Once she has rocked her body back and started pushing him forward, she should take up more of a contact with her horse’s mouth. It also wouldn’t hurt to get some more bend in those elbows. A different instructor once told me that the rider’s shoulders belong to the rider, but the elbows belong to the horse and are meant to be elastic. Without bend in the elbows, that elasticity is not possible. These two small things (lifting chest and bending elbows) should make a world of difference in how her horse moves.
Oh, and she needs to stretch her legs down and put some weight in her heels.