Struggling to achieve a shoulder/hip/heel line! - The Horse Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 Old 05-11-2014, 01:51 AM Thread Starter
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Struggling to achieve a shoulder/hip/heel line!

I"m a recently returned rider, and my recent reintroduction to riding again has been under the expert eye of a dressage coach, while riding her retired GP dressage horse. I'm totally appreciative of this, but sometimes I find myself so frustrated that I'm still struggling to master some fundamentals of riding in this style.

At the moment one of the things that is driving me nuts is my inability to maintain the famous shoulder/hip/heel line while actually *moving* on the horse (I totally nail it while sitting still!! ). The direction that I keep getting given is to feel like I"m "kneeling" but for some reason this description just doesn't gel with me and just confuses me more than anything else! :/

Basically at the moment my feet creep forward so that they're in front of my hip line. When I move them back underneath my hip line while trotting, I suddenly feel precarious, like my entire balance has shifted and I'm going to pitch forward. I can feel secure my gripping more firmly with my knees but I"m pretty sure that it's not a good solution. That's the only way that my body can translate the "kneeling feeling" though.

Has anyone got any other ways of describing what a good dressage shoulder/hip/heel line should feel like while moving?? Or any little thing that helped *you* to achieve a better line? I'd love some help!

(sorry I don't have any footage of me riding, I don't have any at the moment! I know it's hard to troubleshoot without visuals but I"m hoping that at least someone can give me an alternative description on what I should be feeling. :) )
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post #2 of 8 Old 05-11-2014, 02:33 AM
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I can relate. I have a pretty good position at a walk, but it aint so great after that.

One thing that can help, as an alternate image to kneeling, is to think of the bottom of your feet as being pushed down toward the ground, BUT, they must be parallel to the ground. And you aren't pushing the ground, but kind of imagine them being low toward it and just skimming over the ground, parallel to it. Yes, my leg gets longer, but it's kind of down and back orientation as I focus the heel toward the horse's back feet, and imagine my foot just skimming over the ground.
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post #3 of 8 Old 05-11-2014, 02:39 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
I can relate. I have a pretty good position at a walk, but it aint so great after that.

One thing that can help, as an alternate image to kneeling, is to think of the bottom of your feet as being pushed down toward the ground, BUT, they must be parallel to the ground. And you aren't pushing the ground, but kind of imagine them being low toward it and just skimming over the ground, parallel to it. Yes, my leg gets longer, but it's kind of down and back orientation as I focus the heel toward the horse's back feet, and imagine my foot just skimming over the ground.

OK, great! Thanks TinyLiny! :) I can visual exactly what you're saying, so hopefully that will translate into being useful when trying to organise my body while on the back of a horse!
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post #4 of 8 Old 05-11-2014, 04:38 PM
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If your lower leg is coming forward if you are pressing too much weight into the heels/locking the knee. Generally if lower leg is backward, rider is leaning forward; if lower leg is forward, rider is leaning btv.

The kneeling imagery is to open the hip, but the leg must be 'stretched' from (open) hip, to straighter thigh, to lowered kneed, to feathering into the heel. NO pinching in the leg. Riding in two point will help the rider sink into all the joints, leather must be vertical (having stirrups irons with allow for the leather to be flat (rather than wrapped around the shin) also helps).
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post #5 of 8 Old 05-12-2014, 02:01 AM
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Again,I will say that one of th best exercises to help get the lower leg in position is, when you first mount and several times during a ride, to put your hand under your thigh from behind and pull all the thigh to the back. This places the inner thigh flat against the saddle, the knee will be forward and against the saddle and the lower leg under you.
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post #6 of 8 Old 05-12-2014, 11:11 AM
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For me this often means I'm being lazy with my core. If you're not in the habit, you may have to consciously use your abs when you post and to stabilize yourself in the correct position. When I get lazy and don't do it, my legs come forward again.

The other suggestions are also good. There are several things that could be going on. It seems to take a while for everything to start to come together. I have never worked so hard or felt so unskilled on a horse as in my early dressage lessons. I think it gets easier, although I am still dripping sweat at the end of a lesson. Good luck!

Tug on anything at all and you'll find it connected to everything else in the universe.~John Muir
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post #7 of 8 Old 06-20-2014, 12:35 PM
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I just started dressage lessons about a month ago...coming from Western and a little bit of English training. The first thing my trainer did was make me do several laps in each direction standing in my stirrups. The first few times, it was downright painful and I had a hard time staying up...but the muscle memory is great now and I can stay in that position and when I hit the right positions for my heels and calves he has me sit right down and my legs stay right where they are supposed to be.
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post #8 of 8 Old 06-20-2014, 01:24 PM
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Feet may move forward as a result of a rider straightening his legs, tilting his pelvis to the rear, and/or leaning to the rear.

One of images I like is of feeling like you are standing up with your legs apart and knees slightly bent. Another is that of straddling a stool. I often tell my students to think what would happen if their horse magically disappeared. You would want to land on your feet, not your seat or your face.

A common habit described by doctors Heinrich and Volker Schusdziarra in their book "Anatomy of Dressage" is for a rider to tighten the muscles in his crotch. This raises the rider's center of gravity and makes riding in balance more difficult. As a rider releases muscular tension around the pelvis, crotch, and legs, gravity is free to do its job of pulling the rider's weight downward. Think of your weight like sand in an hourglass sinking down, down, down. When it gets to your feet, the stirrups support the balls of your feet and your heels drop a little further down without muscular tension.

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