More on leg equitation, this time at canter

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More on leg equitation, this time at canter

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  • My horse needs a lot of leg

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    04-12-2011, 10:35 PM
More on leg equitation, this time at canter

I learned a lot from all the excellent responses to making the leg stay put at the trot.

Like Bsms I'm a forty something rider coming back to the sport after years away. I've got a good walk and trot, sitting trot, doing nice circles, and can have a great canter. Unless the horse needs a lot of leg at the canter. If that is the case, my legss "scrunch up" (trainer's phrase!), my heels come up, the stirrup falls to my instep and I am a mess.

At my last lesson I asked her to specifically help me with this issue. She had lots of tips and instruction, but it seems my old unconscious muscle memory is just so strong. As soon as I need to squeeze at the canter, up go those heels.

I rode a canter without stirrups the other day and found my legs going way up and back without the stirrups. I could stay on like that, surprisingly, and I could fix it, but it appears to be a pretty strong habit!

Oh, and I ride hunters in Virginia, so we canter in half seat. This is not how I learned. Way back when, I learned to canter sitting in the saddle. It took me awhile to learn the half seat canter, and I think I can do it reasonably well as long as no extra leg is required.

So far my ideas to fix this are:

Tons of two point at the trot.
As much posting trot as I can stand without stirrups.
Bareback work, trot and canter.

Umm. Attaching bowling balls to my feet ...

Does anyone have any ideas for overcoming an old bad habit that is so ingrained?? I really like the idea of getting out of my conscious mind, but I think I have to get a new muscle memory in there first ...
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    04-12-2011, 10:54 PM
I'm going to try a completely different approach to the 40 something muscle memory problem. I'm taking an equi-yoga lesson. I can't wait to see if it accomplishes anything.

The only current way I know to undo muscle memory is to overdo the extreme opposite of what you normally do. Maybe if you scrunch up with your heels down, stretch them down as far as they'll go with your toes pointed at the ground. That's all I can think up for scrunched up legs.
    04-12-2011, 11:01 PM
Well, I certainly like the idea of cantering around bareback with a long relaxed leg and toes pointing down ... maybe you have something there ...
    04-12-2011, 11:11 PM
I think you are on the right track with your plans, I can't think of anything to add. Other than I have the same problem, I had terrible positioning and it has been ingrained for a long time - it is terribly hard to correct. My trainer would get frustrated with me, but I was honestly listening, but as soon as I was asked to do something else, I would revert back to a too far back leg position.

It is frustrating, and just takes time and effort.
    04-12-2011, 11:21 PM
Another thought is why is it necessary for you to put so much leg on in the first place? Is the horse dull to the leg aid for forward? You might want to work on using a crop for a bit to sharpen and lighten your horse to the leg, so you don't have to work YOUR leg so much.
    04-13-2011, 06:38 PM
Hey Tiny,
My horse is a bit of puzzle. He is moody for a gelding. I can have a ride when I hardly need leg at the canter and then he is lazy and needs tons. Presently the trainer likes his attitude and she is "tuning" him up a bit for me to be more responsive to the leg now that my duaghter and I both have a leg that doesn't wiggle so much. But every day is different with him. For a quarter horse, he is kind of unpredictable.

I actually have been hesitating to ride my horse with a crop becuase he is so daggone smart, I was afraid he'd turn into one of those horses that will only step out if he knows you have a crop in your hand. But so far, with the trainer working with him, that hasn't happened, thank good ness.

At that last lesson I rode a school horse as my daughter was on our horse, and I do love that horse I rode, but he does take a lot of leg. A couple years ago, not so much. The more he gets used in lessons, the more leg he takes ...
    04-15-2011, 07:40 PM
One idea is that if your leg position is fine until you put your leg on, you could focus your attention to how you give that aid.

I.e. Does it slide back at all gaits but to a smaller degree. Try really Focusing on keeping your lower leg at the girth when you ask him to move forward.

Try not to get frustrated - it takes over a thousand repetitions of doing something correctly to make new muscle memories so just really stick in there

Good luck
    04-15-2011, 10:14 PM
Thanks back again, that's helpful, becuase I think it's true.

I had a better ride today, managed to improve with a pesky shoulder (it wants to go up and forward for some reason) and the heels. Now if I could do that in a lesson ...

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