After my first lesson...
 
 

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After my first lesson...

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        02-06-2013, 12:38 AM
      #1
    Yearling
    After my first lesson...

    I've ridden my entire life, but never actually took lessons. Recently, I came to the conclusion that my riding left a lot to be desired and found an instructor I love. We had our first lesson last Saturday, and I came away with my own conclusion that I'm doing nearly everything wrong (she was really fantastic about helping without making me feel bad). This is a bit discouraging, especially since I can't seem to make much progress one my own and get back to where we ended our lesson. I know this is just fine and I'm excited for my next lesson because I know I'll improve with each one. Lately, however, riding Snickers has been simply miserable between his attitude with the bit (I'll explain more in a moment), finding a saddle that fits, and just simply my riding being a mess.

    In the meantime, I'm interested in what you all have to say about my riding. This is the second ride since my lesson, and I'm really struggling. My horse, Snickers does have a lot of trouble with the bit - I rode him bitless all last year and now have him in a 3-piece snaffle that is about as gentle as it gets. It's my instructor's opinion that he's getting bored and messing with the bit when he just needs to learn to accept it. Of course, my hands are another part of it - but he did seem to get somewhat better toward the end of our lesson.

    The voice in the video is NOT my instructor but rather my boarder and a good friend. Please don't critique her comments - this is strictly about my riding.

    Finally, I this is only my second time riding in this saddle and I'm still figuring out the best way to do the rigging and how I need to sit in it. It is a 16" whereas I need a 15", but this is what was available and I plan on adding a pad to the seat which should fix that.

    Ok, well - have at it. I'm sure there's plenty to tear apart :)

         
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        02-06-2013, 12:48 AM
      #2
    Banned
    Ok! You're braver than I!!!! Good on you for posting a vid!

    Two things that really stood out for me were:

    1. Your stirrups are probably one or two holes too short, it's pushing your leg uP and rolling you onto your tush.....which is locking your pelvis and pushing your belly out.

    2. And, your elbow seems locked, therefore locking your hands. Which is probably exacerbating your guys fiddling with the bit. I would either put a nose band on him (not for gaping) to get him to quit playing with the bit in such a distracting way OR I'd find a bit that quiets his mouth down!

    Hope I didn't tear you apart!!
         
        02-06-2013, 01:04 AM
      #3
    Super Moderator
    First of all, let me say I adore your horse@! What a very nicely built horse and the way he walks out, so evenly and with committment. He's a keeper!

    You are not being well situated by that saddle. I know you don't want to hear that, but you are way back agains the cantle, and it's putting you a good 4 to 5 inches TOO far back. It makes you sit in a chair seat and it puts you behind his center of gravity and getting a bit too far back on the weight bearing portion of his back.
    It also puts you behind the motion and makes it harder for you to keep a soft, following hand. I don't think you are doing too badly in that dept, only that in order to do that, you ended up at times canted forward, and thus have a week core.

    If you must stick with that saddle, get a Cashel product called a "saddle shrinker" it will bring the cantle an inch or so closer to the pommel and help get your seat bones more in the middle of the saddle.



    As for the bit and his softening and accepting it. It helps for a horse that is anxious about contact to give him times where he has none. So, he's on contact for a bit, then you allow him to stretch downward and walk on a loose rein. Pick up the rein slowly (gather it in rythm with his stepping such that you neither speed him up nor slow him down). Ask him to flex to it and carry his own head (not resting or resisting on the bit) and if he gives you a nice light flex, reward him with a stretch down on a loose rein.

    Practice taking up the rein , asking for him to accept contact, flex to it and get light off the bit (not coming so much off that he comes BEHIND it, tho.), then reward with a loose rein. After a bit, you will reward with a looser rein, but you will maintian a soft contact as he stretchs downward, you still following, and then you ask him to step even bigger into that low rein. Long and Low. A great training excersize.

    As for your hand, be really sure that you don't try to force him down by lowering your hands to "pull" him down. This is so very, very common and only results in a horse that resists even more. Keep your elbow , wrist, bit line very straight (including your wrists, whch I saw cocked a few times). If you want to suggest that the horse lower his head, you can softly tickle with the inside rein , and if he lowers his head, you follow him down. If he comes back up ,. You do to. IF he giraffes above the bit, you raise your hands, too. He won't like that, and he'll likely look for a way out of that. The way out is for him to lower his head, and when he does, you be super quick to reward him. But never try to get himto lower his head by artificially lowering YOUR hands and pulling downward.

    All in all, worry less about where his head is and if you want to build his ability to accept the bit, start out by making it for short periods of time with plenty of breaks.

    I see a nice pair and a lot of potential!
         
        02-06-2013, 01:05 AM
      #4
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Muppetgirl    
    Ok! You're braver than I!!!! Good on you for posting a vid!

    Two things that really stood out for me were:

    1. Your stirrups are probably one or two holes too short, it's pushing your leg uP and rolling you onto your tush.....which is locking your pelvis and pushing your belly out.

    2. And, your elbow seems locked, therefore locking your hands. Which is probably exacerbating your guys fiddling with the bit. I would either put a nose band on him (not for gaping) to get him to quit playing with the bit in such a distracting way OR I'd find a bit that quiets his mouth down!

    Hope I didn't tear you apart!!

    Lol I haven't even watched the video myself yet - the stills I took out of it were enough for me to cringe when I was looking at it! I know some of the things to look for now, so it's difficult to see myself ride. I just know it all feels wrong!

    I'm having a hard time with the stirrups because I'm trying to figure out how to get my ear, shoulder, hips, and heel to line up. We talked about it with the other saddle I'm using, so I'm curious to see what my instructor will say about this saddle. I was taught to ride in a "chair" position, which is evident in this video despite my efforts to get my body in the right positions. Plus, I'll need to post at the trot, so I'm trying to set myself up for a correct position with control. In the meantime, I'll lower my stirrups a few more holes and see what happens...

    He does have a drop noseband on him for the first time in this video, though not very tight. I've never used one before, so again, I'm not sure if I got it quite right. I'm sure my hands aren't helping, so I'll keep the "locked elbow" in mind, though I'm not quite sure what that means and what I'm supposed to do to fix it. But it is noted ;)

    I'm really going to try to give this bit a shot since I've gone through a few bits, but I'll keep looking if there's no improvement. I think a lot of it has to do with my hands as you mentioned. I was raised neck reining, so this whole "on the bit" idea is very mysterious and strange to me since I've never really ridden with contact, and it was probably incorrect when I did.
         
        02-06-2013, 01:12 AM
      #5
    Trained
    Yes, I love your horse! You too look great together. Your shoulders aren't relaxed, thus causing you to arch your back, and as your instructor mention, means you can't get your seat deep enough to encourage him forward. I sometimes see you thinking about it, take the arch out and your horse starts to limber up. Your hands, legs and elbows all need tweaking, but looks like it will come together for you quickly with some instructor. Excellent vid, thanks for posting.
         
        02-06-2013, 01:18 AM
      #6
    Banned
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jillybean19    
    Lol I haven't even watched the video myself yet - the stills I took out of it were enough for me to cringe when I was looking at it! I know some of the things to look for now, so it's difficult to see myself ride. I just know it all feels wrong!

    I'm having a hard time with the stirrups because I'm trying to figure out how to get my ear, shoulder, hips, and heel to line up. We talked about it with the other saddle I'm using, so I'm curious to see what my instructor will say about this saddle. I was taught to ride in a "chair" position, which is evident in this video despite my efforts to get my body in the right positions. Plus, I'll need to post at the trot, so I'm trying to set myself up for a correct position with control. In the meantime, I'll lower my stirrups a few more holes and see what happens...

    He does have a drop noseband on him for the first time in this video, though not very tight. I've never used one before, so again, I'm not sure if I got it quite right. I'm sure my hands aren't helping, so I'll keep the "locked elbow" in mind, though I'm not quite sure what that means and what I'm supposed to do to fix it. But it is noted ;)

    I'm really going to try to give this bit a shot since I've gone through a few bits, but I'll keep looking if there's no improvement. I think a lot of it has to do with my hands as you mentioned. I was raised neck reining, so this whole "on the bit" idea is very mysterious and strange to me since I've never really ridden with contact, and it was probably incorrect when I did.
    Yes, drop your stirrups, and you need to try to sit on the knuckles of your groin (sounds painful put that way!!!) so imagine standing straight and slightly bending your knees while your shoulder, hip and heel stay aligned (look at some picture of dressage riders, you will see they are not actually sitting on their tush) Also the elbow, what I mean is it's not relaxed, try to bring your hands forward and down and make a straight line between your elbow, rein and bit. See how that feels for you and keep us updated
         
        02-06-2013, 01:18 AM
      #7
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinyliny    
    First of all, let me say I adore your horse@! What a very nicely built horse and the way he walks out, so evenly and with committment. He's a keeper!
    Thank you! I'm not sure how I ended up with such a great horse because I really didn't know what I was doing at the time when I purchased him, but something about him stayed in my mind and I had to have it. Still can't explain it lol. I keep hearing how nice of a horse he is, though, so thanks for being specific and telling he why he's a nice horse! Haha

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinyliny    
    you are not being well situated by that saddle. I know you don't want to hear that, but you are way back agains the cantle, and it's putting you a good 4 to 5 inches TOO far back. It makes you sit in a chair seat and it puts you behind his center of gravity and getting a bit too far back on the weight bearing portion of his back.
    It also puts you behind the motion and makes it harder for you to keep a soft, following hand. I don't think you are doing too badly in that dept, only that in order to do that, you ended up at times canted forward, and thus have a week core.

    If you must stick with that saddle, get a Cashel product called a "saddle shrinker" it will bring the cantle an inch or so closer to the pommel and help get your seat bones more in the middle of the saddle.
    I'm still trying to make sure it fits him, but it's looking promising. If it does fit, then it's staying. I LOVE the "saddle shrinker", though, and it'll probably be my next purchase if it does work. Can you translate "canted forward" for me? I think I know what you mean, but am not familiar with the term.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinyliny    
    As for the bit and his softening and accepting it. It helps for a horse that is anxious about contact to give him times where he has none. So, he's on contact for a bit, then you allow him to stretch downward and walk on a loose rein. Pick up the rein slowly (gather it in rythm with his stepping such that you neither speed him up nor slow him down). Ask him to flex to it and carry his own head (not resting or resisting on the bit) and if he gives you a nice light flex, reward him with a stretch down on a loose rein.

    Practice taking up the rein , asking for him to accept contact, flex to it and get light off the bit (not coming so much off that he comes BEHIND it, tho.), then reward with a loose rein. After a bit, you will reward with a looser rein, but you will maintian a soft contact as he stretchs downward, you still following, and then you ask him to step even bigger into that low rein. Long and Low. A great training excersize.
    This sounds great and like it would really benefit us. A lot of my first lesson was just feeling each other (me, my instructor, and my horse) out and seeing where we're starting from. I'll ask my instructor about this to make sure I'm doing it correctly.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinyliny    
    As for your hand, be really sure that you don't try to force him down by lowering your hands to "pull" him down. This is so very, very common and only results in a horse that resists even more. Keep your elbow , wrist, bit line very straight (including your wrists, whch I saw cocked a few times). If you want to suggest that the horse lower his head, you can softly tickle with the inside rein , and if he lowers his head, you follow him down. If he comes back up ,. You do to. IF he giraffes above the bit, you raise your hands, too. He won't like that, and he'll likely look for a way out of that. The way out is for him to lower his head, and when he does, you be super quick to reward him. But never try to get himto lower his head by artificially lowering YOUR hands and pulling downward.
    This is a bad habit carried over from how I was raised to ride :S I'm still figuring out where my hands should be and what movement is good or bad, so I tend to either be too rigid or my hands are all over the place. Thanks for sorting that out some.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinyliny    
    All in all, worry less about where his head is and if you want to build his ability to accept the bit, start out by making it for short periods of time with plenty of breaks.
    To be honest, I wasn't so worried about his head as trying to keep my hands in the right position and steady. This was something we worked on in our lesson - we I was keeping my outside hand steady and it allowed me to anchor myself as well as provide consistency for Snickers. It made a huge difference almost immediately, and we were doing half-halts with the inside rein to which he was bending and giving pretty well and even quieted down on the bit. However, I failed to duplicate that here as you can see! Since I can't yet do whatever it was we were doing in the lesson on my own, I'll take this approach to hopefully make our rides a little more enjoyable until my next lesson.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinyliny    
    I see a nice pair and a lot of potential!
    Thanks - that really helps! I sure hope we can start working like a pair soon!
         
        02-06-2013, 01:21 AM
      #8
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by waresbear    
    Yes, I love your horse! You too look great together. Your shoulders aren't relaxed, thus causing you to arch your back, and as your instructor mention, means you can't get your seat deep enough to encourage him forward. I sometimes see you thinking about it, take the arch out and your horse starts to limber up. Your hands, legs and elbows all need tweaking, but looks like it will come together for you quickly with some instructor. Excellent vid, thanks for posting.
    Thanks for the compliments! My instructor said I was getting tense, causing him to get tense and speed up, which causes me to get more tense, and then we get into this uncomfortable cycle (which is why I'm not even trying to trot right now). I didn't think about my shoulders, though, as I was more focused on my legs. I can see now that there are a few things that I'm doing that are causing everything else to get out of whack. I do feel like just about everything I'm doing needs to at least be tweaked, which is overwhelming right now, but I'm sure it'll come with time!
         
        02-06-2013, 01:24 AM
      #9
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Muppetgirl    
    Yes, drop your stirrups, and you need to try to sit on the knuckles of your groin (sounds painful put that way!!!) so imagine standing straight and slightly bending your knees while your shoulder, hip and heel stay aligned (look at some picture of dressage riders, you will see they are not actually sitting on their tush) Also the elbow, what I mean is it's not relaxed, try to bring your hands forward and down and make a straight line between your elbow, rein and bit. See how that feels for you and keep us updated
    Ok I'll drop them down and see how that helps. I get the concept of where I'm supposed to be and what it's supposed to look like, at least, but cannot yet feel it. I thought my heel was at least close to where it was supposed to be, though probably a little forward, so I was shocked when I saw the video!

    I think I get really focused and start worrying about all these other things, I forget that I do actually have movable joints in my arm. My instructor mentioned this also haha. The image of the straight line does help, so I'll try to pay attention to that next time I ride.
    bkylem likes this.
         
        02-06-2013, 01:28 AM
      #10
    Banned
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jillybean19    
    Ok I'll drop them down and see how that helps. I get the concept of where I'm supposed to be and what it's supposed to look like, at least, but cannot yet feel it. I thought my heel was at least close to where it was supposed to be, though probably a little forward, so I was shocked when I saw the video!

    I think I get really focused and start worrying about all these other things, I forget that I do actually have movable joints in my arm. My instructor mentioned this also haha. The image of the straight line does help, so I'll try to pay attention to that next time I ride.
    Yup! And another thing you can do is let your horse walk and intentionally make your pelvis move with him, let it roll back and forth, even if it's not subtle and obvious it better than having it locked. It makes a huge difference and really helps with using your seat to cue your horse. Once you learn to release your pelvis all kinds of things fall in place, and with longer stirrups and a straighter shoulder, hip, heel you will find releasing the pelvis very easy to do
         

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