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Judge My Ride Premium Evaluation – Richie Costello and Juno

Richie Costello and Juno—May 18, 2012

From: Judge Carol Dean-Porter

This horse would like to be a good mover and I think with a few simple fixes would improve dramatically.

Juno lacks engagement from behind. You can see that her right hind foot only reaches even with 1/2 way up the belly. When engaged, that foot will just about reach a point even with the girth. Even so, she still reaches forward pretty well with her shoulder. This tells me when engaged she will have a good trot!

Her neck and jaw are stiff and she objects to and resists the bit by poking her nose out and opening her mouth.

Richie’s stirrups are fairly short for a dressage test and he lacks depth in his heels. I think lowering the stirrups a hole, stepping down into his heel and flexing his ankles in would improve his base of support. His legs are slightly forward of his hips, so cannot be effective with his leg aid. Bend the knee and bring the lower leg back behind the girth and under the hips. More leg aid will encourage Juno to step up underneath herself better and engage the hind end.

Richie is slightly behind the vertical with his upper body, and will land on his tail bone instead of his seat bones. He should incline his body slightly more forward and rotate the pelvis to sit on the seat bones.

His hands are way too low and pulling down on the mouth. This forces the bit down onto the bars of the mouth and results in the head up/stiff jaw/mouth open/resisting posture we see from Juno.

Richie needs to bend the elbows, lift the hands so they are about even with his belt buckle and carry the hands above/in front of the withers. The left rein is twisted.

A turnout note: The extra part of the leather stirrup strap is quite long and hangs down more than 6 inches beyond the saddle pad and down her barrel. You can either cut that extra portion off or tuck it under the saddle flap for a neater appearance. The pad is pretty large for the saddle. I would suggest getting a pad which fits more neatly around the outline. Adding keepers to the full cheek bit will also improve the “tidiness” of the turn out.

Juno is beautifully groomed with neatly trimmed tail and a clean, shiny coat.

From: Judge Rob Gage

Juno is gapping her mouth open as she raises her head to get away from your hands.

She is “above the bit” in this photo. Try to get her to bend her nose to one side, then work her mouth (invisibly) side to side, to try and get her to drop her nose, and bring it back in towards her chest.

Your hands are pretty low, Richie, which makes your elbows joints too straight. Raise your hands & wrists a couple of inches above the withers.

I think you would find your stirrups about the right length, if you could get some more depth in your heels. Your stirrup has twisted across the ball of your foot, making it more difficult to get your heels down. Practice some more “2 point”, and drive your heels deeper, which will also help you to wrap your leg around Juno’s barrel.

P.S. I loved that movie!

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3 comments on “Judge My Ride Premium Evaluation – Richie Costello and Juno
  1. Danielle Machle-Ward says:

    Great advice!!! Richie worked really hard during his lesson last night and you can already see improvements. Thanks again Judge my Ride and Smartpak!

    • SmartPak SmartPak says:

      Hi Danielle – We are so happy to hear Richie is already putting the judges’ suggestions into action! If Richie has any follow up questions for our judges, they would be happy to answer 1-2 questions for him. Please email any questions to and we would be happy to pass them along!

  2. Cheryl says:

    Hi, Ritchie! When I retired my last horse, I took time off from horses. When I returned, I took it slow, starting as an exercise rider to well-broke horses. Finally, I went back to formal lessons. I am a dressage rider (with many other disciplines under my belt) & I’ve been riding for almost 40 years. I’ve also been an instructor & a trainer & & ridden with some very famous trainers! So, when I started taking formal lessons again with a trainer I knew & who me….boy, was I mortified when the schoolmaster I was on turned into a very crooked griffafe I couldn’t fix! I just want to tell you stick with it! Relax & feel!
    The schoolmaster & I are working it out as the old muscles are coming back but you can do it! Relaxing, breathing & listening to your horse & make sure your horse is (comfortably) listening to you will build a partnership & all the other fancy stuff will come. Good luck!

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