Proper Riding Seat - Leg Position and Saddle? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 09-01-2011, 07:09 PM Thread Starter
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Proper Riding Seat - Leg Position and Saddle?

Hello! Long time lurker, brand new member.

I've been riding for several years, riding lessons as a kid and then recreationally ever since, recently I have been taking lessons to improve my horsemanship.

I actually have a question regarding proper riding posture and it's relation to saddle construction and where your weight should be. After looking through some photos from my horse and I's (very first!) outside ride I noticed the following:

I am aware that proper posture should have the shoulder, hip and ankle all in a vertical line with one another should it not? In both of my photos I am aware that I am doing an egregious 'chair' sit.

However, I was always told as a child to put my weight into my heels - if I do so, physics then dictates that the stirrup leather should be perpendicular to the ground, correct? If all of my weight is transferring down into my heels through the leather? In the first picture, the stirrup leather is vertical compared to the ground, meaning I am pushing my weight down through the stirrup into my heel. But to pull my leg backwards into proper position would mean that I would have to remove my weight from the stirrup and artificially hold it backwards to meet up with my hip and shoulder line? Which then, at best, due to flexion of my knee, causes my toes to point straight forward?

My current riding instructor say I consistently sit too far forwards (on the pubic bone, rather than ischiatic tuberosities (sorry, vet student! haha!)), ie; on my crotch rather than back on the pockets. This has the effect of tending to rock my leg further forward as well, exacerbating the problem.

I am able to accomplish the position she requests, but at the loss of putting nearly any weight into my stirrups since I am holding them back.

Is this due to the way my stirrups are attached to the saddle? It is a Beim Kloster Schonthal (now Courbette?) - I won't be offended if it is, I got it for free! Or am I misunderstanding/was misinstructed to put my weight through my stirrups? I feel much happier when I have my weight in my stirrups and feel more secure, riding with my leg cocked back just feels weird and I wanted to make sure it's what I am supposed to be doing.

I ask that you please pardon flaws in my riding position somewhat - it's something I am working very hard on, and still need to improve upon. The horse I was riding is /super/ green and I was a bit nervous as it was our first time outdoors. <-- Understatement!!!

Sorry for the novel, just wanted to adequately explain my confusion! I am so perplexed, haha. Please help!

Last edited by MojitoTheArabian; 09-01-2011 at 07:10 PM. Reason: Spelling is important to me. ;)
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post #2 of 6 Old 09-01-2011, 08:10 PM
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When you're tacking up your horse, does the place your butt goes (the seat of the saddle) is it flat or is it sloping up or down? And when you press down on it with your hand, is it flat? If it's not level then that can greatly affect your seat and thus your legs. Also it looks like your pad is too far back and may not be enough padding for the saddle. Do you know when it was last reflocked? (if it can be reflocked) because that will also affect your position, as well as your horse's balance/back.

You should work on some hip opening exercises. Have someone hold your horse for you while you're on (or maybe on the lungeline) and bend your knees and bring your feet up and behind you and hold them with your hands

Kind of like this (only decent picture I could find) but instead of hands on lap, holding your toes.. and pushing your knees down as far to the ground as you can, sitting deep on your pockets.

Doing this for about 10 minutes before and after you ride (when you are stretching to warm up your horse and after to cool off) will help open your pelvis and get your legs out of the chair setting. Also.. your legs seem crunched up a bit. Take your feet out of the stirrups and stretch your legs down long. Without any part of your leg on the horse. How does it feel in comparison to in the stirrups?

Ask someone to check to see when your leg is long, if the bottom of the stirrup is about where the beginning of your ankle-meets-foot-bone is. When you find yourself in proper position then you can begin messing around with shorter stirrups but for starters, it's a good idea you start with your legs long so you can work on loosening up that tight muscle.

Makes sense?
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post #3 of 6 Old 09-01-2011, 08:37 PM
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You are too far back on the seat of the saddle. As a result, you have a bit of a "chair seat". Open your hips, push your butt towards the pommel of the saddle and shift your seat a bit off your bum and more towards the pubic bone. This will help your lower leg fall more under you and not as far forward as it is now.

I don't agree with your instructor if she is saying to sit back on your pockets. Show us a pic of the seat you prefer to use....not the one your instructor asks for.

I don't have many schooling photos of me because my equitation is secondary to my often I look yucky. I have a bit of chair seat, but you can see how I am more forward in the saddle and my leg is more under me.

Last edited by Allison Finch; 09-01-2011 at 08:41 PM.
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post #4 of 6 Old 09-01-2011, 09:24 PM Thread Starter
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Skyseternalangel: Thanks for getting back to me! The saddle fits him well and 'clicks' into place, it lies nice and flat against his back - part of the reason I tolerate it so far! I'll admit that I am not super happy with the pad, but it's only a few months old - it's not a super fluffy pad but still has it's padding. I'll definitely try the hip stretches, I'll be the first to admit that I'm fairly out of shape at this point - anything will help!

Allison Finch: Thank god you said that. When I rotate forward a bit, my legs fall much more nicely into place - I will try to get a picture of it. ;) I don't get the chance to ride much at the moment, my gelding pictured is in training to hopefully get rid of a bolting problem - it's hard to work on my seat when I'm busy trying to micromanage possible disasters.

I will try to get some pictures of me sitting more towards the front of my saddle this week, and see if it helps. So it's correct to be putting my weight through my stirrup?
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post #5 of 6 Old 09-01-2011, 09:45 PM
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What is your goal in riding? Will you jump? Dressage? Just trail riding, but want to do it well?

If you put the saddle on a stand, sit in it. Adjust to get your rump in the lowest part of the saddle. That is where gravity will try to put it. Then see where your feet are with the stirrup straps hanging straight down - that is where gravity tries to put them.

If your feet are very forward, your saddle doesn't fit. You can ride it, but you will be fighting gravity. Usually, gravity wins.

Also - I tried saving your pictures to my computer and enlarging - it looks like the stirrup straps are NOT vertical. That could mean you are riding defensively against a quick stop, putting tension in your leg and shoving your rear to the rear. If you lengthen the stirrups, it will be harder to do that. Longer stirrups make it harder to apply pressure by straightening your leg.

My guess is you could lengthen your stirrups, sit in the deep part of the saddle, and have your stirrups reasonably vertical. It is much easier to try it on a stand, where you can look and someone can look with you.

When I started riding, I rode English like a Harley - bracing against the sudden stops my green horses tended to make...part of why green & green doesn't mix well. The solution is to relax the leg and get your weight into the saddle...but it is hard to do when starting. It just doesn't feel safe...but it is.
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post #6 of 6 Old 09-01-2011, 10:18 PM
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I have always liked this stretch/exercise for helping me find my seat bones:
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