First Day of English Lessons - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 19 Old 10-14-2010, 09:58 PM Thread Starter
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First Day of English Lessons

So I had my first English lesson this week after taking Western lessons for the past two months (I'm a first time rider). It felt like day 1 all over again. I kept slipping in the saddle (I almost slid right off the other side of the horse when I mounted b/c I didn't expect it to be slippery), couldn't find my balance, my arms kept rowing, I was out of sync with the horse, toes were down, pretty much I was all over the place and did everything wrong (except fall off). Sigh.

I wore regular breeches but just ordered some full seat breeches by Ariat so hopefully next week, I will be less slippery in the saddle. It didn't help that I'm still breaking in my tall riding boots.

Any suggestions on how to feel more secure in the saddle (other than full seat breeches)? Does this happen to anyone else?
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post #2 of 19 Old 10-14-2010, 10:24 PM
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Yes! It happens to EVERYONE. The first time I rode in an English saddle it felt like riding on a tiny banana peel. The full seat breeches will help a little (I love mine) and in time you will start riding the "horse" not the saddle. You'll just get better at keeping the weight down through your legs into the stirrups and sittin' up tall. I am gong to guess that you spent some time collapsing into the fetal (or as my instructor used to say, the "fatal") position. Over time you'll get more secure and be better able to sit upright and let your weight fall over your hips, down into the stirrups.
One thought would be to take a second when it's quiet and sit on your horse at a standstil, close your eyes, forget that you are in an English saddle and just imagine it's a western saddle if you like. Relax, let your weight sink downward (feel "heavy") and visualize yourself sitting about 6 inches inside your horse's body, not on top of him. Then take a nice big breath, and as you exhale, as the horse to walk forward and see how long you can stay relaxed and visualizing yourself riding "inside" your horse and just moving along with him.
I guarantee you will get better day by day. No worries.
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post #3 of 19 Old 10-14-2010, 10:31 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Tinyliny! I love the visualization exercise you described. I find those very helpful for me in my ballet class also. So I'll do that at my next riding lesson. How do I know if I did the fetal position while on the horse?
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post #4 of 19 Old 10-15-2010, 09:38 PM
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I meant that many riders when they feel their balance is compromised will curl forward and maybe even grab at the mane or pommel of the saddle. That curling up is the "fetal" position. It is very instinctive for humans to take this posture when we feel scared.
I just assumed it might have been part of your experience when first riding in the itsy-bitsy English saddle.
I know that when I ride bareback, and it's pretty rare these day (too old, I am), I will have to counteract my instinctive urge to collapse forward and cling to the horse if I feel compramised. Staying upright and centered over the horse keeps me the safest, but my instincts sometimes go the other direction.
When you take your next lesson, keep that thought of riding "inside " the horse, just a few inches. As you go around and lose your balance, 'cause you KNOW it's going to happen, you just recover your balance and go immediately back into what you were doing. Just blow if off with a deep, exhale and go on. Don't allow your mind to wander in the area of "what if . . .". You need to get immediately back to the present and back to your centered feeling. After time and lessons, the amount of time you spend feeling unbalanced will lessen and the time centered will grow until it long outweighs the other . Been there, done that.
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post #5 of 19 Old 10-15-2010, 09:58 PM
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Keep riding, keep riding, keep riding. It takes time :)
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post #6 of 19 Old 10-15-2010, 10:29 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the explanation Tinyliny. I was definitely going into the fetal position at times. Other times I'd "stand up" in the stirrups so that Lena could move without me interfering (I'm sure its no fun having me bounce on her back bc I've lost the rhythm).


Thanks for replying equiniphile :)
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post #7 of 19 Old 10-16-2010, 02:47 AM
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Western is completely different then English....saddle, position, gaits etc....so of course you are going to feel completely unbalanced. Some leather is just more slippery then others, so maybe try another saddle that has a pebbled finish to it instead of a smooth finish. I can't say that wearing full seat breeches will help or not, but it is always worth a try.

The only way you are going to be able to feel more comfortable is just keep at it! It isnt going to be a smooth transition and it will take a few lessons to switch.

It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows. --Epictetus
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post #8 of 19 Old 10-16-2010, 03:46 AM
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Just keep at it and you'll get the hang of it. The first time I cantered in an English saddle before I had lessons, I held onto the pommel because I was afraid I'd come of at that speed compared to riding in a Western saddle!

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post #9 of 19 Old 10-16-2010, 10:01 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies and the tips. I am excited about my next lesson :)
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post #10 of 19 Old 10-17-2010, 08:12 AM
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The funny thing is that the opposite will happen when you do go back to Western after riding English for a while. Most of my riding is English in the ring with an instructor but since I don't own a horse I occasionally go to different places for trail rides and also vacation at the Rocking Horse Ranch in NY twice a year. Most of those places only offer Western and you must neck rein. Whenever I go into a trot at these places I feel very uncomfortable. I then make believe it's English by keeping my unreining hand where it would normally be as if it's direct reining and I start posting which disproves everyone who says you can't post in Western!! I then actually feel more secure.

For anyone who feels they are too old to start riding, I started taking lessons at 57.
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