English & Western Critique (Pics & Video) - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 09-01-2012, 04:41 PM Thread Starter
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English & Western Critique (Pics & Video)

I'm normally pretty shy about posting videos and pictures of myself. A lot were taken today!
But, in the name of wanting to improve and seeking the advice of others, here goes.

This first video is of today's lesson. It's my 8th English lesson and ride on my instructor's Friesian mare. Gorgeous horse, not to mention very patient for having to deal with me!




I think my biggest issue are my feet... when I trot they are too far in the stirrups and not down. Seems like something that should already be ingrained in my brain from riding about a year of Western. Not being able to keep my feet down and stirrups on the balls of my feet is sort of a new problem for me that I'm guessing is a result of a riding in a different saddle. I need to remember to keep them down!

My hands also look like they can be quieter... or maybe my posting is off?

Bleg. I have a lot to work on... this instructor is excellent though- with her help I'm confident about getting better.

And a video of me riding Western on my friend's Paint mare:

This was taken a few weeks back. This horse, although very patient with me, is younger and a little more difficult than what I'm used to.

I really would appreciate constructive criticism on either of these rides. Watching a video of my riding is real eye opener on just how much work I need!

Last edited by Houston; 09-01-2012 at 04:43 PM.
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post #2 of 14 Old 09-01-2012, 06:43 PM
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YOu are a very astute and honest observer of yourself and have the makings to be a dandy rider, especially with such a willing attitude toward receiveing a critique.

And, you look darn cute on that Fresian mare!

However, there is a very fundamental issue here that is part and parcel with the problems you mentioned, primarily your posting and your hands and your chair seat.

You are not aligned OVER your feet. Therefore, your weight and energy stop at your knee, which is pinned against your horse's side and from which your are levering yourself up for each of the posting rises. This means that you end up "flumping" back into the saddle with your butt pressing into the Cantle of the saddle. One can see it clearly being depressed with each flump of your butt into it, and the mare's swishing tail tells me she does not appreciate it. If I were to do that, at my 200 lbs, she would be very pissed off at me, but since you are slender, she can tolerate this.

However, it is a weak way to post and means that you are always BEHIND the motionn and depressing the horse's energy and encourabing it to hollow out its' back.

Look at how long your stirrups are, how far in front of your hip (the front of your boney pelvis , not the pubic bone but the big arches on each side) that your toe is. It should aobut line up with the front of your hip bone.

See how your lower leg and foot kind of flop around, but the rest of you is kind of stiff? That's becuase they are not working for you . instead of levering up from a point (your knee) which is in front of you, you need to kind of be "expanding" and "contracting" throug your ankle, knee, hip in a line that is stacked over each other, like a jack in the box? You focus more on the down part of your post, too, so that you set yourself down in teh middle of the saddle instead of "bouncing" off the cantle.

Shorten your stirrups. two notches. take your leg out of the stirrup and lift them straigth out to the side, then let them fall naturally against the hrose's side. reach down and put your hand on the outside of your big thigh muscles and pull them outward and upward, so that it kind of makes your knee rotate inward toward the saddle. Let let hang again. Lift your toes up and find your stirrup.

Now practice going up and down while the horse is just standing. you need to be able to post whether you are being bounced off the saddle or not, and it's more of an "unfolding" motion than a scissors pinch at the knee, from which you swing up and down.

doing this will help your be able to stay more in one place in relation to the front to back length of the horse (when you lever off the knee , you are closer to the mouth, farther away, closer, farther away , which is hard to adjust to with your elbows to maintain a steady contact).
YOu have a nice vertical upper body and keep a good head up position. When you get this kind of posting that is over your own leg/foot you will feel a huge change in your riding .

Good luck and thank your for being so brave.
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post #3 of 14 Old 09-01-2012, 07:20 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks a bunch tinylily! Good detail, I appreciate that a lot.

My stirrups were a hole shorter, however my instructor moved them a hole longer.... they were much more comfortable shorter though! I felt as though I was able to keep more weight in my stirrups then and therefore had a little bit more support when I was rising and sitting in the trot. I think you are very right when you say I am rising from my knee and then plopping back down because that's exactly what it feels like. Perhaps if my knee wasn't so tight I would be able keep the stirrups on the balls of my feet and my heel down as well.

And yes this mare is quite tolerant of me.

I'll try to bring up the length of my stirrups to her in my next lesson, although I have to admit I'm a bit scared she'll think I don't trust her judgement or something. I think she wants them long because I'm riding in a Dressage saddle, but I may have to work up to that level!
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post #4 of 14 Old 09-01-2012, 08:00 PM
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If you don't have a lot of experience posting the trot, it makes no sense to lengthen the stirrups. People have the mistaken idea that in ordre to get a long, effective leg in dressage you should lengthen the stirrup. you might lengthen it AFTER you are very secure in posting the trot. even so, I often see people at dressage shows (amature) that if only they would take the stirrup up a notch or two they would have much more effective seats.

When you are levering off your knee, you cannot really control your position very well. If the hrose were to try and pull the reins forward out of your hand, she would pull you forward , too, pivoting off that hard point of your knee. And, in fact, it often has the rider moving a bit like a waterskier who rides off of the reins for support, whcih mean the horse pulls in counter balance to you.

If you can take a video with you riding with stirrups one or two holes shorter, then drop them and ride again.
It isn't just stirrup length, but being able to bring your legs under you. Having stirrups too long just makes it all the harder.

That mare is a lovely horse but is probably not the easiest horse to learn to post on. Once you have the skill down smoother, you will really appreciate her big stride. I can see that she has a lot to offer to the rider who can sit her well.

Oh, and by the way, it's "tinyliny" not "tinylily" . I get that all the time.
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post #5 of 14 Old 09-01-2012, 08:13 PM Thread Starter
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Oops- tinyliny! Sorry about that.

She does have very powerful gaits (which I am still getting used to) and is highly trained. I believe she's 3rd level dressage so she is WAY above my head. But hopefully I'll get to that point in the future.

Do you think making a conscious effort to bring my calf or leg back would help me?
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post #6 of 14 Old 09-01-2012, 08:22 PM
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Of course, but I don't understand why your instructor wants the stirrups so long. Does she have any comment on your posting?
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post #7 of 14 Old 09-01-2012, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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She did tell me to try to soften my body when posting but, again, that might be easier with shorter stirrups.

Last week we went on a nice little trot on the trail (with the stirrups up a hole). I'm not sure if I had the chair seat problem then, but I was able to get a nice rhythm with the mare and posting felt nice, soft, and natural.
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post #8 of 14 Old 09-03-2012, 02:47 PM
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I laughed because the two things I was going to point out (stirrups need to be on the balls of your feet to help your weight drop into your heel, and your hands could be a little quieter), you already noticed yourself!
Look at that, you don't even need us ;)

Gorgeous mare by the way!

Also your stirrups could go up a hole or two (that may help out your position)

To ride or not to ride? ... What a stupid question!!
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post #9 of 14 Old 09-03-2012, 05:09 PM
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The lower leg problem...your leg needs to come back FROM THE HIP. It's not just a matter of bringing the lower leg back, but the whole leg back from the hip. Because you are back too much on your seat bones, instead of being centered ON your seat bones. You DO have a nice straight back, and I love that! Everything from your hip and down needs some tweaks, but you are headed in the right direction!

For the western....sit and relax, THINK slower. Western position in the saddle is the same as a dressage position.
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post #10 of 14 Old 09-03-2012, 05:48 PM
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I'd like to see your stirrups a bit shorter, I think it will help with your posting a lot.

Heck, lengthen my stirrups a few holes and I can't possibly post. (And I jack my stirrups up pretty short for western) You just have to find your riding sweet spot :)

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