Help me with my seat please

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Help me with my seat please

This is a discussion on Help me with my seat please within the Dressage forums, part of the English Riding category
  • Hip flexor stretches for riders
  • Riders feet not under hips in dressage saddle

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    06-01-2012, 10:54 AM
Green Broke
Help me with my seat please

I have just purchased a Wintec Pro dressage saddle and need serious help. I rode H/J for 10 years and I have had about 6 years off from any real riding and lessons. My new horse is too old to start into jumping and I always wanted to get better at dressage. I used to do a bit of dressage but with an a/p saddle, so much different.

Here's my problem, I cannot keep my stirrups to save my life. They are shorter than what they should be for dressage but longer than what I'm used to. I am not used to a dressage seat at all and completely throws me off, along with the fact my horse is bumpier than anything I've ever seen.

So, how do I sit in this thing? Stretches? Exercises? I'm not sure if I can find someone to lunge her with me on her but that is my next step.
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    06-01-2012, 01:12 PM
Subbing, would like to see some awnsers...
    06-02-2012, 09:09 AM
We've ALL been there, so don't feel like its just you. ;)

Tai Chi and Yoga really helped my seat for dressage. The important part is to increase the flexibility in your hips and thighs. The tendons/ligaments/muscles that allow you to do the splits, and the ones that control twisting/turning, plus the ones the allow you to bring your thighs under you (quadriceps). When those are tight (and they are for all of us), it causes your legs to slide up when you ride. The more limber and stretchy you can become, the easier it'll become to get your thighs/knees/calves under your hips.

I do quadricep stretches, hip flexor stretches, lower back stretches: (Useful Stretches for Riders).

I was trying to find a good Tai Chi video that would demonstrate (somewhat) what I'm trying to say, but I hate mobile phones.... Anyway, look into the Tai Chi. If if all you do is pick a few exercises from a website and do those for a few weeks, you'll see a difference in your seat and riding.

Without the flexibility, then you end up fighting against your own body to hold a specific position. When that happens you have to remain tense to hold yourself there, and that defeats the seat being fluid and relaxed.
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    06-02-2012, 09:19 AM
Time in the saddle.. stretching before you get on, transitioning when you feel yourself about to lose them. Only do as much as you can. Perhaps ride without stirrups if you're confident.

It's just a different feel. A dressage saddle is usually deeper in its seat than an AP, so it may be that.. but getting that deep seat when you're used to a lighter one can be tricky.

You'll get there though, just miles in the saddle.
    06-02-2012, 09:20 AM
One other idea (along with the stretches), ride without stirrups for short periods of time. Try it just at the walk, and imagine your entire body is a giant tree. Your trunk, head, and arms are the top of the tree while your hips, legs, and thighs, are the roots. Imagine your legs and feet are stretching deep into the ground, well below the horse. Keep your trunk as tall and upright as the tree and stretch your upper body up to the sky.

Focus on that feeling for a few minutes, then carry on with your riding. If you find yourself getting tense and your body is attempting to go fetal position on you, then come back to the walk and visual yourself as the tree for few minutes.

The more often you can ride correctly, then the more your body will start to do it through muscle memory. But you'll probably only be able to get the feel for a few minutes at a time to start with. Don't worry, it takes a while to recondition the body to a different feel and position. Just keep working on it. All of us (except maybe the super natural riders) have to work on it everyday, but it's worth it!
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    06-02-2012, 09:39 AM
Adding onto the great advice above, I would want to add this:

The reason you are losing your stirrups probably has to do with gripping at the knee. If you grip your knee, your feet stop moving with the horse's movement, but the stirrups don't. Again, as stated, stirrup-less work will probably help this the most.
    06-02-2012, 09:49 AM
Green Broke
Thank you very much. I will try some of those stretches today before our ride. I'm trail riding in it right now so when we are walking along I have been thinking about how I'm sitting. Without stirrups is actually easier as I had to ride bareback the last couple months before I could save up the money for a new saddle.

Trotting is the hardest as I'm not used to the super bouncy trot. But I need more practice with the trot without stirrups. I will also try to improve my position as I know a lot of those muscles have left me in the last few years.

Thank you for all the suggestions. Keep them coming I'm making notes :).
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    06-02-2012, 10:05 AM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by Chiilaa    
Adding onto the great advice above, I would want to add this:

The reason you are losing your stirrups probably has to do with gripping at the knee. If you grip your knee, your feet stop moving with the horse's movement, but the stirrups don't. Again, as stated, stirrup-less work will probably help this the most.
Yes this I know I have to work on. It has always been a problem. I got really good at not doing that but then when I got in a car accident I had to quit riding for two years. So I'm starting over.
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