Audrey Isabelle Roell and Rockstar—August 19, 2011
From Judge Rob Gage:
I love how well turned out this pony & rider are. You only have one chance to make a first impression, and this one is a good one! I also love that he goes in a “happy mouth” snaffle! NICE! His jumping form isn’t bad, but he could be better in front. His knees should be raised just a little higher. With a proper hunter technique, the pony should have his forearms, (from his shoulders to his knees) parallel to the ground. This pony’s forearms have tilted towards the ground…just a little bit.
As for the rider….she does one thing that really annoys me. She is pushing her elbows pretty far down the pony’s shoulders. I have never understood the benefit of this? I like to see a good old fashioned crest release. I would like to see her keep her elbows & forearms ON TOP of the pony’s mane. That would go a long ways to help hold her upper body up above the pony’s neck, by providing an additional point of support. Her stirrups might be 1 hole too short…but that’s kind of a matter of opinion.
From Judge Carol Dean-Porter:
This pony is well turned out with a beautiful coat and an excellent braiding job. His martingale is correctly fitted to not interfere with his neck as he stretches across the oxer. I like the Happy Mouth snaffle. His saddle fits correctly and is in place, not slipped back. The saddle pad could fit more neatly.
He has pushed off well with both hind feet from a nice distance. He has not lifted his front legs very well. His forearms are below the horizontal and his lower legs are loose enough that his toe is quite close to the rail. He has not lowered his neck much and is visibly clenching his jaw. This jumping style of loose legs and flat neck/back is fine for equitation but will be penalized in the hunter ring. His expression is not angry, but not happy either. The rider is well positioned over his center of balance. Her lower leg is secure with heel well down. She has broken over slightly too close to the neck, so that her back is just about horizontal, instead of her spine and his being parallel. By dropping her chest so close to the neck, she has been forced to drop her elbows down to his shoulders. Her hands are very soft with contact, but the extremely broken line from the elbow to the mouth tends to stiffen the arm. Remember that the elbow is a shock absorber. I would like to see her hold her chest up away from the neck by about 6 inches, which will also leave room for her elbows along the top of the neck and straighten the elbow angle. This body control will soften the whole appearance and give her the ability to influence her horse to turn the direction she is looking on the first landing stride.
She looks ahead well to the next fence. She looks confident and polished. Her boots fit well. Her outfit is attractive. I am happy to see her chin strap adjusted snugly enough that the helmet will stay in place in case of a fall. Her crop points down the shoulder, I would prefer to see it pointing back.
To improve the pony’s jumping technique, I would advise gymnastic grids with low and wide oxers to encourage him to hold his form.
The bit is obviously soft enough, so she may want to have her vet check his teeth. Teeth floating is a regularly scheduled maintenance procedure which can make a world of difference in a horse’s performance and attitude.