How does my posture/balance etc. look? It feels off to me... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 04-16-2011, 01:26 PM Thread Starter
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Question How does my posture/balance etc. look? It feels off to me...

I'm in the process of switching trainers (very long story, but esentially my old trainer is great but can't help me anymore, and the trainer I'm now taking lessons with is very helpful). My new trainer is very into dressage and has been trying to get me to sit back farther and push my leg back so it's in line with my shoulder. I'm used to riding hunt seat, with my leg forward and my heels way down. Now that I'm trying to ride more upright with my leg back, I can't keep my heels down (or my feet slide forward) and my leg slides all over, which is never used to do. My horse seems to be moving better this new way, but it just feels awkward to me and I'm getting very frustrated.
What do you guys think? Do I look absolutely awful like this? I'm not sure if I'm actually getting anywhere with what I've been working on, so hopefully you guys can give me some pointers :) I also put in a picture of how I sit regularly in the saddle with my leg back as far as it goes; it's still not in line with my shoulder. I discovered it's only my saddle on my horse, because my leg is fine on every other horse I ride. I'm trying to find a bumper pad for the front of my saddle because it tips me forward and pushes my leg forward, so I'm just getting angry and my saddle is getting torn up from the rubbing caused by my leg when I shove it back.
Oh, and please don't critique my horse much- I know her issues and they're getting better. Although of you have any advice on how to get her onto the bit better etc, that would be great. Thanks!
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post #2 of 11 Old 04-17-2011, 03:28 AM
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I suspect the saddle is part of the issue; it looks like your seat is being pushed to the back of the saddle and your leg pushed forward. I think the saddle is a poor fit for you, and that that the balance point of the saddle is too far back as it's sitting on this particular horse.

If I am purely looking at your position, the first photo is the best. In the others I can see you fighting to keep your leg under you.

[quote] I'm used to riding hunt seat, with my leg forward and my heels way down. [/quote ]

This statement confuses me. In hunt seat riding, your stirrup leather should still be perpendicular, and the alignment of your shoulder, hip and heel is the same. The difference in a dressage seat is mostly the length of stirrup and more open knee and hip angles; and spending more time riding in a full seat.

As far as heels, some hunt seat riders tend to exaggerate heels down, to the point that they force them or brace them, this is not correct and robs you of flexibility and shock absorbtion. It's common for a dressage instructor to advise you to release some of the weight in you heel so the joint stays soft and unbraced, but your heel is still down - just not forced down.

Is it possible that bracing your heel in the stirrup helps push your leg forward? When you release some pressure in the stirrup does your leg come back underneath you? In the video, I get a sense of locked joints and stiffness, and that you're posting up from your knee rather than opening and closing your hip.

Last edited by maura; 04-17-2011 at 03:32 AM.
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post #3 of 11 Old 04-17-2011, 09:34 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for your input :)
The saddle definitely is an issue, however it took months to find a saddle to fit my horse; I actually had to go to a guy who specializes in draft saddles to find one that worked. However I can use that saddle on my sister's horse, and I think my position looks much better on him. I can't afford to buy a new saddle, so I'm just going to have to use a bumper pad...
The first photo was after a show last weekend where she was moving very nicely, which I think helped me because I didn't have to worry quite as much about her and could work on myself.

I suppose I should have worded myself differently... I've done hunters for the last 5 years, and my trainer has never ever corrected any of the habits I've picked up along the way. So I'm used to keeping my leg in front of me, my heels too far down, and staying forward in the saddle. I attatched a picture so you have a better idea of what I mean... (My heels weren't down much because I was using spurs for the first time in years and I didn't want to bump her sides.)

It's definitely possible that I'm locking my joints. I have a lesson tomorrow with my new trainer, so hopefully she can help correct that... If you don't mind explaining, what do you mean posting from the knee? Also, if I drop my stirrups it's easier to keep my leg under me, but as soon as I take them back, even if I have really long stirrups and put almost no weight in my feet/heels, I either lose my stirrups ormy legs just go forward again...
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post #4 of 11 Old 04-17-2011, 10:47 AM
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The saddle looks too small for *you*, regardless of the fit to the horse. The knee is under your knee, not it front of it. You should have enough room in a saddle to slide your hip and seat bone forward and back or change your hip angle; you don't, you're wedged in one spot in the saddle, and if you move, you'll either be on the cantle or on the pommel. So I think a larger saddle with a long flap might allow you to find a more functional position.

A correct posting motion happens by opening and closing your hip and is more forward and back than up and down. You are rising from your knee, and the motion is more up and down than forward and back. If it helps, imagine that you are being pulled forward by your belt buckle for the forward part of the posting motion. Here's a video I found with a quick Google search. See if you can tell the difference between this video and yours - (btw, this rider's leg is too far back, but the actual mechanics of the posting are good.)

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post #5 of 11 Old 04-17-2011, 11:08 AM
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I think if you lengthen your stirrups a bit, your leg will be able to come back a bit without scrunching up your leg.

Right now you are fighting yourself. To get the heel down, you MUST move your leg forward because when you scrunch up your leg to get your heel underneath your hip, there just isn't enough flex left to give you a lower heel. Your leg already has to use the full bend of your heel to squeeze itself into place.

If you lower your stirrup, your leg can come back without closing in on itself, and that might allow your heel to stay lower while under your hip.

You can try it sitting in your chair - a scrunched up leg uses all the flex your leg has available. As you rise out of your chair, the longer leg will start to have some excess flex that can be used to lower your heel.

All just IMHO. If you saw me riding, you would probably scream in horror, cover your eyes and seek your 'happy place'...
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post #6 of 11 Old 04-17-2011, 11:22 AM Thread Starter
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Maura- I'll see if I can borrow someone elses saddle, but unfortunately I'm stuck with this one as there is 100% no way I can buy a new one. At least not any time in the near future. Thank you for posting that video though. I'll try to work on posting more like that :)

bsms- Hahahah! I'm sure you're a lovely rider :) I'm certainly not very good myself, much as I'd like to think I am... I'll see if I can get some video with my stirrups longer. I've tried lengthening them and I find that I'm usually okay at the walk and trot, but the second I canter or jump I lose my stirrups constantly because when I'm trying to keep the weight out of my heels. I can usually ride much better (and definitely prefer) either bareback or without stirrups, but unfortunately I'd get some funny looks if I walked into the show ring without a saddle... ;) Thanks!

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post #7 of 11 Old 04-17-2011, 10:34 PM
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I agree on lengthening the stirrups. They seem a tad too short.

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post #8 of 11 Old 04-17-2011, 10:50 PM
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You don't think you could sell your current saddle on ebay and use the money to buy a new one?
My first thought was that it was the saddle too.
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post #9 of 11 Old 04-17-2011, 11:02 PM Thread Starter
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I suppose it's possible. But I'm 14, so it would be difficult. Like I said, it took months to find a saddle that fits my horse, and ultimitely its more important to me that she's comfortable than I have an "ideal" saddle. However I talked to my mom today and she agreed to maybe trailering her to some tack stores that have saddles that might fit and if I can save up enough I might be able to buy a new one.
On a side note... While I was lunging her today I noticed that her shoulder and wither looks higher and thicker. She just turned 8 though, but I could've sworn she was built a tad differently last summer. I would imagine if her shoulder-area changed a bit, the saddle would fit her differently which would explain why on every other horse that saddle fits me 100% perfectly (I have plenty of room and my leg hangs correctly) and on her it no longer does. Is it possible for her to have slightly changed build at her age though? Or am I just hallucinating?

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post #10 of 11 Old 04-18-2011, 03:43 AM
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Bareback work... And lots of it! Work on your centre of gravity, and also on stretching your legs down, and riding with a long, loose leg. If your horse is difficult, either borrow someone else's, do it on the lunge, or ride her anyway and take it as a learning curve
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