As far as the pic of the darker bay connemara, it's beautiful. He looks a little strong in his contact and a little strong and tight in his neck. He sure believes in going forward, LOL. to the OP - you see the horse's legs make a parallelogram that clearly reach forward. And instead of looking like he has straight sticks for legs, you can see a bend at the knee and hock. That's really good. You can also see his hips and shoulders are moving.
If one hind leg is reaching forward, you can look for 'A big V', an upside down V that goes all the way up to the horse's body, so it doesn't look like the horse's hocks are stuck together, so his hind legs aren't separated to the hock, but right up to the body. And as much as possible, the hind legs are not kicking out behind the horse too much.
And as they say, 'the hind legs could be better on this horse, but not by a whole lot' (LOL - it's pretty darn good, in other words).
What is important at this level, this horse has mastered, lol, at least in this picture. As his training went on he would have become more supple and carry more. But for this stage of training it's very nice.
While a show saddle will teach you to stick like glue by hanging on with yoour legs, I am not sure it allows you to develop a deep supple seat - that is in common between the two pictures. It puts you on top of the saddle, but doesn't appear to help you sink down into the lowest point of the saddle and have a supple, deeper seat.
And I bet you can buy a used dressage saddle over there in Britain, and save a lot of money, of course you still have to have SOME dough to do that, LOL. I had a lot of trouble affording equipment when I was young, but I just waited around for a deal.
I've used a number of different dressage saddles over the years - each one is a little different, but the idea of the dressage saddle is to let the rider get down into the lowest part of the saddle and stay there while staying loose and supple in his seat, and to let him not grip so hard to stay on, but rather use his knee, thigh and seat as aids.
Last edited by slc; 02-27-2011 at 08:24 PM.