Tense hip at the canter
 
 

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Tense hip at the canter

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  • Centered riding canter
  • I am tense at the canter

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    08-20-2011, 08:14 PM
  #1
Weanling
Tense hip at the canter

My friend and I have switched saddles for the month, lol. I don't like my saddle (and apparently it doesn't fit me too well) and she hates her so...we swapped for the time being.

Anyways, I'm currently riding in an old Collegiate (no knee rolls or padded flaps or anything) and while it's a lot more comfortable to ride and find my balance in, it's really made my problem a lot more obvious.

When I sit the canter, my hips get very, very tense. Like, I can't loosen them to go with the flow and if/when I attempt, I end up bracing against my stirrups and my leg comes out in front of me. I do tend to sit very upright/too far back but no matter where I place my body, I still can't loosen my hips. If I canter more than a few laps, my hips also start to ache (which generally makes me think about how tight they are haha)

It was so bad yesterday that I kept losing one of my stirrups because that leg was getting all scrunched up.

This also happens when I canter bareback and no stirrups, even if I REALLY try to just relax them.

Here I am a few weeks ago cantering

And then last winter, but you can kinda see more of my position here (and yes, I was really far back heading to the jumps. I'm working on it)

Any ideas WHY my hips are doing this? And any tips on how to relax them? It's to where I feel like I can't sit the canter comfortably anymore (especially on Frenchie) I do stretch almost every time before I ride so I'm just really, really confused. Is it my stirrup length (I did drop them a hole yesterday but my hips were still really tight)? The way I'm sitting? (I'm TRYING so hard to close my hip angle and fix that whole problem, but I'm not there yet)
     
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    08-25-2011, 10:33 PM
  #2
Foal
Here's an easy excersice you can do when you get the chance:

Cross your stirrups over the pommel of your saddle. Sit back in the saddle and let your legs hang beneath you. As your horse walks, let your hips swing with the motion. Without looking at your horse's shoulders, say "left, right, left, right" as each front leg comes forward.

Next, pick up a nice easy sit trot. Like you did at the walk, sit back and let your hips swing with the motion, saying "left, right" as the legs come forwards. But be careful: do not squeeze too hard with your legs. You don't just want to have a hard and continuous grip. Practice this as much as you can. It'll teach you to loosen your hips and go with the motion.

When you feel you're ready, pick up a canter... no stirrups of course. Full seat, but sitting on your seat bones. Practice going over poles and tiny jumps with no stirrups as well.

Another excersice you can do is going over a tiny x with no reins. Knot your reins so that your horse doesn't run away with you put your hands out like air planes. Ride in complete full seat (do not 2-point over the jump). It sounds strange for loosening your hips, but believe me it works. And if you're feeling REALLY confident, you can try no reins and no stirrups together.

But on a whole, NO STIRRUPS. With that being said, do not grip too hard with your legs! Keep that in mind, and you're golden. After that it's just practice, practice, practice. Good luck!
     
    08-25-2011, 11:12 PM
  #3
Super Moderator
Junior, I honestly don't think you look THAT bad. I can see how you are coming behind the motion a little in the second video and get left behind a bit.
What would happen if you put a small wedge under the back of your saddle to lift it a bit? If the front of your saddle is too high, you will end up in a bit of a chair seat and struggling to not fall behind the motion.

Look at Frenchie from the side with saddle on him, on flat ground. Is front of saddle higher than cantle? If so, try a wedge to lift back.
     
    08-26-2011, 02:16 PM
  #4
Weanling
I haven't done any sort of no stirrup-work in a really long time (not sure if it's related but doing that makes my hip spasm almost as if a nerve is being pinched) but I was cantering no stirrups on Monday and I'll try it again today.

I'm actually riding in a different saddle than in those videos right now...I think it's a much better fit for Frenchie (though I'm certainly no expert) and in the video with Fry I think my saddle was a little too far forward...but the saddle I'm using now is better for me. It doesn't have any sort of padding or blocks on the flaps so my long legs aren't getting scrunched up, haha. I've also dropped my stirrups a hole and I'm slowly getting used to that. We do have a few pads they call bounce pads which I'm pretty sure are the same thing you're referring to as a wedge

I don't think it looks very bad but it's kind of painful for my hips! They get so tight and tense that they start to burn after like, a lap. It doesn't happen when I'm on Hopper but I think that's because he's a 17.3 warmblood and his canter is like sitting on a couch, haha. But I very rarely ride Hopper so I'm just kind of lost as to why I can't seem to relax my hips?

Ugh, I think I rambled.

But anyways. When I ride in a few hours I'll try doing some more no stirrup work. If there are poles set out then I'll ride those but there's no way I'm jumping Frenchie without stirrups, lol. He likes to duck out and stop and spin and I'd rather not fall off.
     
    08-27-2011, 10:32 AM
  #5
Weanling
I have a question.

Could my locking up at the canter be from a weak core? I know that I tend to brace against my stirrups instead of using my core when I need to pull back, so I'm wondering if that transfers over.

Yesterday I rode a horse who hadn't been ridden in about a week so he kept trying to run through my hands towards the jumps and I noticed that I followed his motion and regulated his pace better when I focused on using my core muscles to help pull back and slow him down, if that makes sense? I'm also (and this is a little embarrassing - but hey...I did ride another horse after Leo and stayed another 6 hours doing various chores) a little sore in like, my abs so that's what made me think of it.
     
    08-27-2011, 11:53 AM
  #6
Banned
Yes, strengthening your core willl help.

Using your core muscles tends to flatten your lower back, which tends to open your hip and allow it to move.

In looking at your videos, it looks like you understand the mechanics of how to follow with your seat, but that you don't follow through or complete the motion. I do see that you sometimes sit behind the motion to try to recover your following seat.

Overall, I think your seat looked better in the first video, on Frenchie, but they you still stop the following motion too early.

I like the exercises emeraldstar suggested; I would also suggest that you get Sally Swift's Centered Riding out of the library - there's a series of exercises there to help riders understand exactly how the horses back moves and how to follow with your seat at the canter. A centered riding instructor finally cured me of my hollowed lower back and helped me find a following seat at the canter.

Have a friend or instructor on the ground while you work on this; you need immediate feedback to tell you when you've got it right, or when you're sitting behind, etc. Trying to practice without accurate feedback often leads to practicing the wrong thing.
tinyliny likes this.
     
    08-27-2011, 01:05 PM
  #7
Banned
The main fault you have is that you don't understand the mechanics of the canter.

You are riding the canter as a forward back motion when it is more of a lateral motion. If you advanced the hip forward that is on the lead side then let the opposite hip follow you will find the motion of the canter a lot easier to sit.
     
    08-27-2011, 06:32 PM
  #8
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by maura    
Yes, strengthening your core willl help.

Using your core muscles tends to flatten your lower back, which tends to open your hip and allow it to move.

In looking at your videos, it looks like you understand the mechanics of how to follow with your seat, but that you don't follow through or complete the motion. I do see that you sometimes sit behind the motion to try to recover your following seat.

Overall, I think your seat looked better in the first video, on Frenchie, but they you still stop the following motion too early.

I like the exercises emeraldstar suggested; I would also suggest that you get Sally Swift's Centered Riding out of the library - there's a series of exercises there to help riders understand exactly how the horses back moves and how to follow with your seat at the canter. A centered riding instructor finally cured me of my hollowed lower back and helped me find a following seat at the canter.

Have a friend or instructor on the ground while you work on this; you need immediate feedback to tell you when you've got it right, or when you're sitting behind, etc. Trying to practice without accurate feedback often leads to practicing the wrong thing.
Yeah the first video of Frenchie is more recent than the second video of Scooter.

I think my goal this winter (not sure what my riding situation will be...I might be able to work of lessons but I'll probably have to stop for a couple months) will be to strengthen my core. I'm going to be in an agility class at school but it's with a an arrogant, sexist teacher so I won't be doing any of the weightlifting that the boys do...perhaps I'll find some way of amusing myself then that includes core strengthening exercises, haha.

I do tend to get behind the motion, a lot. It's a bad habit I picked up from when I first started learning to canter - I spent about 5 months riding without stirrups and cantering around and my instructor at the time never corrected me when I got far behind, hah. But I AM working on fixing that, along with this.

I'll see if I can get my hands on a copy of that book.

In theory, I kind of understand how I *should* be sitting the canter, but it never seems to translate over to what I'm actually doing, haha.
     
    08-27-2011, 07:08 PM
  #9
Super Moderator
I loved Maura's post. The core is key. (that sound pretty good, don't you think? Maybe I can patent that phrase and make a lot of money)

YOu really keyed into the feeling when you said you regulated his speed with your core.

I don't always have the presence of mind to ride from my core, either, but when I do, it is a wonderful feeling. It feels like the horse comes to ME, instead of me working to follow him. And we move together. It's like the horse feels like my lower body. Know what I mean?

As for core strength and stability, in my opinion, nothing is better than YOga, except Pilattes. But I like Yoga because you work on balance, core and breathing. Would you like to take a Yoga class? There are also tons of good Yoga videos one can use at home.

I always feel good after Yoga, and I am reminding myself here that I need to get back to it after neglecting it for two darn months!
     
    08-27-2011, 09:41 PM
  #10
Weanling
Wahh, I almost got into an aerobics class for my gym course in school this year, which had yoga 2x a week but my schedule was messed up so I got changed.

But anyways.
I'd love to take a yoga class eventually. I feel like I could really benefit from it.

There were a few jumps yesterday where I think I did get it, using my core. I was able to regulate what he was doing and we weren't fighting to work with eachother, if that makes sense. I was able to feel and connect to his rhythm easier and saw my distances a lot sooner. *sigh* If only I could ride like that all the time.

Welp, looks like it's time to start looking for yoga videos, lol. I'll be running lots of sprints and stadiums (ugghhh) for my gym class and with the addition of yoga...I'm hoping I'll become a much stronger rider (if only it would help me stop rounding my shoulders, lol)
     

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