Time for a wake up call! Rip into me!

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Time for a wake up call! Rip into me!

This is a discussion on Time for a wake up call! Rip into me! within the Horse Riding Critique forums, part of the Riding Horses category

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    07-12-2010, 04:20 AM
Time for a wake up call! Rip into me!

Alright bit of background info I think:

I have ridden horses for about 8 years. For the first 4 years I only ever did trail riding and never had an instructor or anyone take a look at me. I joined a horse forum and started to do more flat work and actual beneficial exercises for me and my horse. It was quite shocking how much was wrong with me lol. But slowly over time I developed a better position.

But then dum dum dum.. I took about a 14 month period off riding as I sorted some things out. Sold all my horses except for my little pony. In February of this year I decided I couldn't live without horse riding so I got back into it and bought another horse. I am sad to say I think I'm back to square one.

Anyway I got some pictures today of me riding in the arena. I've mostly been doing flatwork with him but we did a bit of jumping. Most of the pictures were sooo bad I couldn't post them lol. I have a real problem with jumping! Flatwork I'm fine I'm really confident. But as soon as I see a jump I tense up and so does my horse! I've never had a bad experience I have no idea what it is. Needless to say it's quite frustrating.

Anyway, honest critiques are welcome! And also suggestions for loosening up.

The horse: Nova is a 15.2hh 14 yo Quarab that I've owned since the end of February. He's got a ridiculously sensitive stomach so we've been struggling to find a diet that adds weight and also that he can digest (hence the reason he's a little skinny). Also he's only ever done barrel racing, western and sporting events in his 14 years of life so jumping is a bit foreign to him haha. Critiques on him are also welcome of course but the pics aren't the best conformation ones lol.

^^ He kept turning to follow me hence the reason his back legs look toed out.

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    07-12-2010, 04:21 AM

Now for the dreaded jumping photos.

^^ He tried to refuse but ended up catleaping instead

^^ And if this looks bad (and oh boy does it haha) you should see the other photos

So as you can see I need help!! So critique away.
    07-12-2010, 03:14 PM
I would not even dream about riding this horse until he has at least another 100 lbs on him!! He is underweight and has no muscle mass at all.
    07-12-2010, 03:57 PM
The main thing I see is making sure your lower leg stays perpendicular to the ground instead of flailing to the side.
    07-12-2010, 03:58 PM
I disagree with kingkillkannon. I think the horse could use more muscle, but under weight..? No. I think that if he had more muscle he would look a lot more filled out. I think you are very tall on him, but since you are so thin, it isn't a problem. No crit. From me.
    07-12-2010, 04:05 PM
Not too bad. You have fewer bad habits than me!

Your side-on trot pic, you're upper body is tipping forward, losing that ear-shoulder-hip-heel alignment. The only other glaring flatwork issue I see is your arms. Let your upper arms fall straight down, keep your elbows elastically at your sides instead of out in front of you. You'll have to let out a little more rein to keep your contact light. I'll let a more knowledgeable jumper handle the jumping pics.

Your guy isn't terribly underweight, but could use some muscle. That will come as he gets more exercise, but trot poles and hill work can help. Remember, walking builds muscle, trotting builds muscle and wind, cantering builds wind.
    07-12-2010, 06:43 PM
Thanks everyone!

Kingkillkannon - I do value your opinion. My problem comes when if I didn't ride him he would never build muscle and also this horse is deceivingly calm in these photos, but from the second I get on him he's go, go, go. He has soo much energy I'm not sure how not riding him would benefit either of us.

Equiniphile - haha I do struggle with this! Mainly because his sides are incredibly sensitive to my leg if they go anywhere near there he's off like a rocket. In the arena, however, he is much better so I should definitely think about this! Another bad trail riding habit.

Eventerwannabe - I totally agree with the height thing! Lol I hate being so tall. When I went out to buy my new horse I told myself I wouldn't get anything under 16hh but then I saw this guy and really couldn't say no just because of his height. I wish there was an operation to make me shorter. Definitely going to work on his muscle though and hopefully his new diet will see him fill out a bit more along the top and butt.

Scoutrider - thanks so much for the critique! Now that I think about it I could feel myself being pulled forward. And I didn't even realise how stiff my elbows were until I looked at the photos! Definitely something to work on.

Thanks again everyone!
    07-12-2010, 08:12 PM
Only thing I noticed that you trot with your right shoulder collapsed a bit. I was always told it was walk for muscle, trot for balance and canter for wind. Regardless, just go out and play on the trails or hills to help build up his muscle.
    07-13-2010, 06:59 AM
Your biggest problem is that you are landing in the back of the saddle when you ride, thus making it impossible for him to come off the forehand and soften his back. You want to rock back so you're sitting on your back pockets - on your seat bones - and in the centre of the saddle.
When you can sit back on your seat bones, you'll have a much more efficient driving aid, AND stopping aid! If he bucked/shied while you ride like that, chances are you'll end up over his shoulder.
Once you're sitting back comfortably, concentrate on raising your chest. Imagine you are wearing a bra with a frilly bow in the middle. Lift that bow a few inches ;)

Sitting back on your seat bones and becoming more upright in your upper body, should help you to bring your lower legs back under your body. At the moment, you are gripping with your knees, thus swinging your lower legs back. This is not a good position to be in, at it is just SO easy to come off, not only that but you are also putting your horse on the forehand by putting all your weight over his front legs, and giving ineffective leg aids as your legs are too far back.

Your elbows need attention as well. At the moment, with you elbows straight and hands resting on his wither, you are unable to 'feel' his mouth and 'walk your hands' with him, thus he will be copping a good clunk in the mouth at every stride in walk and canter. Bring your elbows back, imagining that they are nailed to your hips. You could also imagine that you have weights tied to your elbows, pulling them down ;) The elbows should be the heaviest part of our arm.
When you're elbows are back against your body, you will have far more ability to move your hands in time with your horse's movement - he will thank you for it!
Carry your hands by yourself, your horse is already carrying your weight, he does not need to hold your hands up on his neck as well ;) That's YOUR job!

Hope that helps, he's a very cute little guy and there are no issues with his weight. He's just undermuscled, but that cannot be improved under saddle under your position has become effective so that you are able to help him stretch into the bridle, soften his back and engage his hind legs, which will build topline on him :)
    07-13-2010, 08:57 AM
Wow thank you so much kayty!! That was all so helpful! Exactly what I need. I used to be so soft with my hands and my back. Ever since I came back from my break I can feel myself so much more tense than I used to be! I don't actually feel nervous at all when I'm riding (only when I'm jumping) .. but at the same time I can't seem to just relax like I used to. I'm really going to work on the things you suggested I hate to think that I'm making him uncomfortable when I'm riding.

Thanks again!

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