*Deep breathes* Long post, I apologise in advance but I want to be as detailed as I can. Lately I've been working really hard on my position and feel like I'm doing much better than I used to. This is great and all, but in the photos I feel like I have a heap more to work on! I understand that although I own three very different horses, the basics are the same (sit up, roll onto the seatbones not a chair position, thumbs on top etc etc).
I believe I ride pretty well in the walk. I fall apart at the trot. I -am- getting there, but to give over my excuse: I have a recurring knee injury that affects my life a lot. I've been told to give up riding but refuse to lose the biggest part to my life... and most of the time I can ride very comfortably, it just means my sessions are sometimes short. But because of this injury, my horses had no bend on that particular rein... I have been working on my legs... but I know I am unstable and need to get stronger there, it's something that's going to take time.
My main struggles in my opinion are: - Keeping my leg under myself in the trot. It tends to slip forward and I also find that my foot slips too much into the stirrup rather than on the ball of my foot. I find I look like I'm in a chair position too, because my leg is coming out from under myself. - I'm unconsciously steering with my inside rein. I have been recently told by my instructor this and have been working to stop that... I haven't checked the photos I'm about to post if I'm doing it in them, most probably. I put my thumbs on top but I keep letting it slip back. - Thinking big: I need to work on bigger circles so my horses can use themselves better and I can balance better too. - Looking up where I'm going.
So what I guess I'm after is any advice on how to help what I'm doing wrong, or to CONSTRUCTIVELY point out what else I'm doing wrong. I'm the type of person who is very hard on myself as a rider, and so I tend to nit pick everything I do. I am proud of myself though, I've come a long away over the last month and a half, despite almost giving up my gelding due to feeling inadequate, having a lot of time out of the saddle, and then teaching Honey (with the help of my instructor) how to get off my leg more and with that she's offering to accept more contact. I've also had to relearn how to ride on Evo as he's just come home from training and to be honest I'm quite nervous about messing him up! I'm not looking for people to just go "oh you're doing well", I know I have things to fix... but I do know things are going to take time, and I may not ride the best right now, but one of these days I will. I think that's why I'm doing this, something I'd not normally do, but I want to become that rider... I know it's going to take time but at least knowing what I need to fix is good!
**Most of the photos are trotting sequences as I feel I am riding alright at the walk. There are no canter pics as Honey JUST learnt how to canter this weekend, and I haven't even cantered Evo yet.**
This is Honey... she is really my main riding horse. I feel at home on her, I feel like I don't get left behind too much on her, I feel I ride my best here.
I hesitantly add this photo in as I know she has tense moments as she's just learning that she has more of a job now. And she's still experimenting where her head should be. We're not asking her to work in a frame, but to use her back end more effectively (engage) and to come off my leg more. I know we have a long way to go.
This is me and Evo. He will the the one who will test just how good a rider I am. I again feel good at the walk on him. He has a BIG expressive trot (I know you can't tell that from these photos) and I find it difficult as I am a heavy rider and do find it harder to balance. I am getting there, but forward is still an issue. In the first photo, I wasn't asking him to work in a frame, I believe he carried himself cos I find his trot more smoother and easier for me to find myself and then drive forward. The other two are from about a month ago... it was the ride that made me decide to keep Evo.
This is Bailey and me. I don't ride my pony as much as the other two as I feel with my weight and hers its too much. However she needs to lose it somehow and I don't currently have a rider for her. I enjoy riding Bailey, she keeps me on my "toes" so to speak. She's a rearer, so I know I need to ride reasonably well to stay on. The first pic is one of my favs me wise. I feel like I'm sitting well, although I could be more on my seatbones. It was a photo of us warming up. The other two are from a month ago... they're the only decent trotting photos I could find of this year. I realise her saddle has slipped forward slightly, she's obese and I can push it back all I like... but as soon as she starts trotting, it seems to slip... even when I do up the girth really tight.
Well that's FINALLY it. Thank you to those who got this far haha! x
Could you try working without stirrups? Maybe that would help you stay centered in the saddle a bit more as you seem to fall forward. Also, in some of the pictures, IMO your foot is a bit too far into the stirrup. I have been having problems with this for some reason lately and it should be only the ball of your foot. It LOOKS like it is farther towards the centre of your foot.
Being a new rider myself, I wont offer up to much. I do think,though, that if you work on strengthening the muscles around your injury, you will be better able to protect yourself. Do some non-impact work to build up the muscles in your legs. Hopefully that will help with the pain and improve your riding.
Thanks everyone... One of the things I pointed out was that I need to make sure my stirrup is on the ball of my foot. I do need some work without stirrups... that would be impossible to do on Evo at the trot, I would fall off... excuses I know... but I'd rather not fall from him for awhile yet lol. I will start doing it on Honey though. Thank you.
I am proud... I feel so ridiculous for saying that I've been riding for 11yrs now, and that I teach better than I ride... simply because these last few years have made riding different for me... but I'm glad I still have the opportunity to do so.
I, too, think you should be very happy with yourself!!
I will keep this fairly basic...
I'm sorry if you've pointed these few things out already, my mind is a bit fuzzy:
- You want to keep your elbows bent and have a straight connection from your elbow to the bit; this means relaxing the elbow a bit more, keeping it by your side and rolling your shoulders back - Thumbs on top... I have this problem too!! I almost need a shock collar hehe - In the rising trot photos, your leg has slipped back a tinch causing your whole body to come forward from its base of support. If you keep your lower leg under you supporting, I bet you will feel more secure :) - In a couple of the photos, your toe has started to poke out to the side; remember to keep those pointing forwards :)
What I really like about your riding: - You are honest with yourself! - You are maintaining contact in most of the pictures without having too much contact - You are sitting nice and tall in most pictures (I would just suggest opening your sternum a bit - think of there being a glittery star on your chest that you want to show off to the world; chin up, boobs out!! .. without creating a hollow back)
Thank you Allie! I agree, my arms do need more work. I feel like I have enough elbow bend when I'm riding but my instructor has told me that because I am a bigger rider, to maintain the correct line from bit to elbow, I have to get around my stomach... in some of my older pictures it looks like I rest on my stomach too. I have been working on having relaxed elbows on my horses, especially Evo as that's where I really don't look relaxed at all. Haha yeah, my hands are shocking ... I'll put my thumbs on top and then they'll inch back down, haha need a shock collar myself! My leg is going back... right thank you! I feel like it goes forward... it doesnt stay in the right place anyway... I'm working hard on stablising my core but it is taking it's time!
Thank you... I have to be honest with myself... pretending I'm doing okay doesn't work out for me... I'd rather admit that I'm not happy with my riding -all the time- so I can work towards being more satisfied. Yes... I do think I need to open my sternum up more too. I keep telling my riders to stick their chests out, sit up tall and think they're the best thing there is on the back of a horse... I must take some of my own advice!
I'm having a lesson on Evo this week sometime... so hopefully I'll have more photos to share. Thanks again. x
Everyone else pretty much covered it. I just wanted to add that you and your ponies look great!
If you want to ride without stirrups could you get someone to put you on a lunge line? That way they control the horse and you can focus on yourself - I've done it with my instructor and it was great.
Also, with your leg position, you could put some duct tape / masking tape on your saddle where your leg should be, as a visual aid. You can glance down and if you can't see the tape then your leg is over it and you know it's in the right position, but if you can see in in front/ behind your leg then you know you need to pull your leg back/push it forward. Eventually you should be able to just go by feel to know if your leg is right.
I had two very constructive rides today and worked on a lot of the things in this thread. I made mental note to sit up and tall, open up my chest, and keep my stirrups on the ball of my foot... by the time I hopped off of Honey (my second ride) I felt like I had done pretty darn well! I also worked on keeping my elbows bent and keeping my hands steady... I could really feel the change when I got it right. Honey started out as a speed demon (just learnt to canter under saddle now its ALL she wants to do) and by the end of the ride she was rewarded with the canter because in her walk and trot she was beautiful. As for Mr Evo, he was just lovely today... I paid a lot of attention to my arms again on him, and my stirrups... I let him really stretch in the trot and managed to keep up without falling on his neck so I must have been doing something right to be able to ride him like that.
Thanks so much for the advice, I'm so glad to be proving to myself that when I concentrate and ride the way I did today, things really fall into place - and I end up really happy!!
Oh and RedHawk, I have no problems riding Honey walk and trot with no stirrups, I'll do it in my small arena... but it wouldnt matter -right now- if I was on the lunge or not on Evo - I'd fall off at his trot... its just TOO big for my shotty balance... even if I were to hold a neck strap. Best to start with Honey lol. x
Its amazing how something so simple as bending you arms, or putting the stirrups on the balls of your feet make such a huge difference. Im glad everything worked our for you! And your horses are gorgeous, I want to steal Evo :P