Most dolls are never going to be equitation superstars, but that doesn't mean they get a free pass to ride poorly. There's a big middle ground between polished Maclay winner and discombobulated novice. Today's post will show you how to fine tune your doll's position to make him/her look like a competent and educated huntseat rider that is an asset to your performance entry.
This doll is exhibiting a very common position fault--she's sitting much too far back. This might be okay for other divisions, but remember hunt seat riders should be should be a couple degrees ahead of the vertical at the slower gaits and inclined forward for galloping and jumping.This is better. She could still be a little more forward, but this is within acceptable limits, particularly for a flat (no jumping) class.
For an over fences class, this is nearly ideal.
The male doll has a customized, bendy neck. This allows him to keep his head up when his body is inclined forward. I can not recommend this modification enough, particularly for dolls used on galloping and jumping horses.
Hands should be held low and close together just above the horse's withers. Ideally, the reins should enter the hand between the hand through the pinky and ring finger and exit through the under the thumbs. This youth doll has had her hands modified to allow such a hold.
This doll has not. Some judges may object to this more basic hold, but personally, I think it's an acceptable compromise. As long as the contact with the horse's mouth is correct, I can live with the reins entering the bottom of the hand rather than between the fingers.
Per USEF rules, the bight (buckle end) of the reins may fall on either side of the horse's neck. The bight should flip forward and down so it lays in front of the saddle, rather than back and into the rider's lap.
Real reins have enough weight to stay down on their own. Model reins do not. Care must be taken to fold them down over and in front of the fingers so they don't stick up and look messy.
A strong leg position is the foundation of good hunter seat equitation. The stirrups should be short enough so that the doll's knees fit into the saddle's knee rolls, and the heels should be down or at least down-ish. Even with leather boots, it can be exceedingly difficult to make your doll adopt a true heels down position.
The toes should point out not in, and the stirrup should be placed on the ball of the doll's foot.
The lower leg should be slightly behind the girth. Ideally, the stirrup leather will be perpendicular to the ground.
The final installment of this series will cover equitation over fences. Don't expect that tomorrow, however. I've spent enough time playing with dolls this week. I'm ready to take a little break!