When it comes to riding, all dolls are not created equal.Unaltered, original finish Breyer dolls have terrible hunter seat equitation.
The biggest problem is the stiff, plastic boots. These make it impossible for the doll to properly flex his ankles.
Even a stylist like George Morris can't make these boots work.
Fortunately, it's fairly easy to remove plastic boots and replace them with a pair of custom tall boots.
Look at the difference this makes! This doll's heels aren't way down, but the increased ankle flexion has greatly improved his leg position. Unlike George, he looks secure in the saddle.
Of course, the best rider dolls come from our hobby's many wonderful doll artists. With their polished clothes and clever body modifications, these dolls look and ride better than any unaltered Breyer doll.
Still, even the best dolls need help to ride well! Here are two really nice huntseat dolls by two of the hobby's best doll makers (Joan Yount and Sheri Wirtz). The male doll is standing with straight arms and legs and his head facing forward. He looks stiff and doll like. The female doll has been posed with her left leg forward and slightly bent, her torso and neck turned and her hands on her hips. All these little adjustments make her look much more natural and human.
Similarly, if you put a stiff and straight doll directly on the horse...
you're probably going to end up with something that looks like this.
I find it works better to position the doll before I put her on the horse. Because it's much to straighten than to scrunch, I tend to exaggerate the pose.
When everything is where I want it to be, I place the doll on the model, squishing her seat deep into the saddle.
I put her feet in the stirrups and the reins in her hands. Then I step back and take a good look at the overall picture. From there, it's usually just a matter of a few small tweaks.
Compare this picture to the earlier version. The doll's hip, knee and ankle angles are much more appropriate for her chosen discipline. Additionally, she is sitting in the deepest part of the saddle and her eyes are looking in the direction of travel. Before, she looked like a passenger. Now, she is riding.
Stay tuned for the next installment of 1:9 scale hunter seat equitation! I will delve more deeply into the specifics of rider position.