I ride English and western - I've been working on western pleasure lately, and haven't been riding English too much. When I went back to English, I got some critique and was told my leg was way too far forward. I was comfortable with it forward, and now it's hard to stay balanced with it under my hip :P If I stretch my heels down, then my leg slides forward! Help!
I had this problem too! I had been switching saddles a ton and I was riding a new horse where my legs weren't in the right spot and I had so many other things to think about (walking in a straight line, not bucking, making him move, ect) that we didn't really focus on my legs. So when I started riding Allegra I looked horrid. D=
Really, the only thing to do is practice. You can lean forward, but make sure you don't get used to that feeling too much. Ask an instructor or a friend to put your legs in the correct spot and work on remembering how that feels so you can do it yourself. What I did was actually pick up my leg and place it back in the saddle for the first few rides after that. Now I can get on and my legs just go there - it's so much better. I was told that when it feels kind of awkward and not really right, chances are it is right.
In the photo, you are leaning forwards but if you are coming up a hill at a fast trot then you are up over its centre of gravity, body weight down into the stirrups and are allowing the horse's back to move freely. A famour trainer Vladimir Littauer, who promoted forward riding in the US , would be proud of you.
However if you were to sit like that in an English dressage arena with a Germanic instructor then he would say you are tilted too much forwards. For dressage work you should be sitting upright at 90 degrees with your weight back down in the saddle with your legs down straighter and your heels down below your toes. But dressage arenas are flat.
Remember on a moving horse many of us tend to think we are sitting upright when in fact we are leaning slightly forwards.
Arrange to get someone to video you whilst you are riding - you can then see yourself in action. Then think about it.
Glad I'd make someone proud lol ;)
I did have someone help me, and I tried shortening my stirrups. When I look in the mirror (there's one in the arena), I'm sitting up straight when it feel like I'm leaning back! I just have to practice :)
Actually, if I were you, I wouldn't shorten my stirrups. I'd make them longer. When you ride with stirrups that are too short, your legs will tend to slide forwards when you sit up, and slide back when you lean forwards.
When you are on the ground, put your hand against the stirrup buckle. Then shorten/lengthen it so that the stirrup is against your elbow. When you mount, you should be able to comfaterably sit with your legs under your hips. If you can't, get someone to fix your stirrups so you can.
I had that problem, but the only way I know that I fixed it was knowing about it and really want to fix it. If it helps, stand up in the stirrups like you're going to stretch and then sit back down again. Where you sit should be the place you should be in the saddle and where your legs should be.
See if you can find a copy of Littauers book: "Common Sense Horsemanship" ISBN 0-668-02602-2. He was famous in the US in the 1960s & 1970s. He promoted "Forward" Riding which at present is out of fashion but it is a very acceptable system for cross country riding on an English cut saddle. An Italian cavalry officer invented the system.
Riding for a modern dressage test on a German warmblood
In a straight cut Steubben saddle is a different game altogether - then you sit bolt upright.
To reach success through practice, then first you have to understand correctly. There is nothing much new in riding - somewhere someone has already written about it.
That's interesting! I've never heard of that way of determining your stirrup length - I've just heard of letting your legs hang loosely and your ankles should hit the stirrup bottom. I think I'll try it tonight though! >