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Ready Freddy & I - Photo Critique

Updated on November 2, 2018
Ellison Hartley profile image

Ellison is a professional horse trainer and riding instructor. She runs a summer camp program and offers kids a safe introduction to horses.

This is Ready Freddie. I worked him for about 6 months,and he is one of my all time favorite horses. He was very green when I first started with him, but a real trier!
This is Ready Freddie. I worked him for about 6 months,and he is one of my all time favorite horses. He was very green when I first started with him, but a real trier! | Source

Ready Freddie

Freddie was very green when I started working with him. He really was a people pleaser though and always tried to figure out what I wanted him to do.

I enjoy looking at these pictures because I can see a big difference in my riding since they were taken.

Such a handsome boy he was.
Such a handsome boy he was. | Source

Upper Body Position

It looks as though I'm looking up and ahead to where I'm going. My hips though are collapsed back and forward. Which is bringing my shoulders forward of where they should be. Which is making a vertical line from shoulder, to hip to heel.

I needed to push my hips forward and my shoulders back. I'm in a close contact saddle in this picture, which tends to sit you more forward in the saddle. I still should have lifted my chest up, hips open and forward and my shoulders back.


My elbows are close to my sides where they should be, but my hands are too low. My hands should not be so low that they are almost sitting on his neck. They should be up off his neck and floating somewhere between my belly button and the saddle. I probably felt I had to move my hands low to find a connection since the reins are too long. I should have had my reins shorter and lifted my hands higher.

The feeling of the downward pull of the bit in his mouth is probably what is causing him to brace his neck muscles and right side of his mouth against my hand.

I can also see that my connection is not even on both sides, because if you look under his neck, you can see a lot of slack in the left rein. Telling me I had no connection there and was leaning on the right side of the bit.


My leg is pretty okay. It looks as if I'm using my heels trying to send him forward, so my leg is just slightly back and my heel slightly up from where I would like to see it.

Because he was bracing against my hand, this is probably why I was having to push so hard with my leg to keep him moving forward. This also relates to how my lower back is a little collapsed instead of sitting with my hips forward and shoulders back. I was pushing with my seat bones to help back up my leg.

Overall Impression

If I would have been sitting up tall with a straight line from shoulder, hip to heel, I would have been able to more effectively use my seat bones to help push him forward.

Then if I had lifted my hands up off his neck, there would have been a straight line from my elbow to my hands to the bit.

That way as my leg sent him forward, I could have lightened my seat bones as he began to move forward, which would allow him to lift his back up.

With my hands up in the correct position, all the energy from the hind end would have come up over his back and neck. His neck muscles would have softened, as well as his jaw. Especially on that right side that he seems so braced on.

When his back and his neck softened, I would have softened my hands and seat and he would have lowered his head into a proper frame. A frame that was soft and had equal weight in both hands.

If I knew Then, What I know Now

I knew then, what I knew now, Freddy's training would have progressed a lot more quickly. He was a wonderful horse like I said, one of the favorites I have ever interacted with. I learned so much from him.

It is amazing how looking back on an old picture of my riding, and Freddy is still teaching me. Not to mention helping me train my eye, so I can be a better trainer to my students.

Never stop learning!

Freddy and I had a special bond.
Freddy and I had a special bond. | Source
My smile says it all. I had a lot to learn back then. Freddy was an amazing step on my horsemanship journey. I will never forget him.
My smile says it all. I had a lot to learn back then. Freddy was an amazing step on my horsemanship journey. I will never forget him. | Source

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