I plan on posting pictures and video as soon as I find a charger for my camera ( lost mine have to find a new one). I am starting from square one because I found alot of what I had been taught was wrong, and had created habits that were not only inhibiting my riding ( and Solo's position), but also created long-term body issues ( an old knee injury flared up and never went down some 4-5 months ago, and my lower back went really bad because her big thing was that I needed to hallow out my lower back).
I want to be absolutely the best rider I can be, and so I am determined to do what I can to fix all my problems and create the best horse and rider pair around! Yes, it sounds stupid and childish, but why not aim for your absolute best?
I have no trainer and cannot afford one. So I need you guys to help me. I realize that asking for help from everyone is a good thing, but you get so many conflicting thoughts on the same thing, sometimes, that I would like one consistant "coach".
Those that are interested in seriously "coaching" me online consitantly- as often as every other day, possibly- please give me a "test drive" critique on some old pictures, so I can see who I would learn best from.
I am determined, and though I am slow to learn thing physically, I will give my very best! My goal is to get into Hunters and Show Jumping eventually. I am 19 years old. Solo is my 5 year old Arab/Quarter cross. He is very green, so please tell me not only what you want me to do, but what you would want me to do to help HIM improve as well. Detailed answers, please! Illustrations and example visuals would help as well.
I know you can't tell too much from these two pictures, but they are the only ones I have right now. And if you can help me from these, I knw you're what I'm looking for!
Well good for you!!! I am only a few years older that you and I have be show jumping for 10 yrs now. Im not saying that I know all but I think I can help. From the two pics your back is a little too arched, almost looks like your hurting. Relax ur back some. But remember to keep ur shoulders open. Hands and arms look soft, your legs could b under you a tad bit more( imagine a straight line from your ear lobe to your elbow to your ankle). To perfect this I suggest walking in a 2-point until ur comfortable then slowly moving up to a trot (on the rail). Once this is mastered try do ing the same in circles. This will put you where you should be when you sit the saddle. Great job on those heels!!!! Nice and low. I will be happy to help. Hope this works for you.
I can't tell exactly because of the quality of the photos, but i'll throw my two cents in!!
In the first photo, the horse is slightly evading your contact and lugging behind with a hollowed back. To help that you can put your lower leg back just a little bit so that you're in a position where he can't change you because at the moment he's trying to control your position so he doesn't have to work correctly. You're elbows should be bent more with your upper arm by your side (rolling your shoulders back will help with this problem) and I can't quite tell but it looks as though your wrists need to be more rounded to encourage him to lower his head and work his back end.. You back does seem to be a little hollowed near your tail bone which is making your bum go out the back door so to speak lol otherwise you look nice and vertical!! Your heels seem to be down a fraction too much..
In the second photo your heels are down WAAAY too much and that can lead to tendon problems and strain on your archillis (you know, the things near your heels lol I dunno how to spell it) again, your shoulders should be rolled back more with you elbows bent more and hands closer to the saddle. You have the right idea about leaning forward, but its too exaggerated for trot poles. To get into the 2-point position you need to close your lower leg around the horses side instead of just standing up and putting all your weight on you heels. It looks as though your toes are pointing out a fraction too much which may be because of your leg injury I don't know..
Sorry about being so picky!! Good luck with everything!!
Ha ha I thought the same thing!! But it actually makes it easier for your feet to come out of the stirrups and can damage your tendons.. I like them just below horizintal but that's just IMO lol.. I think that training is not what people say is right (because there're ALOT of opinions out there!!) but what works best for you..
Okay, pics are a bit hard to see... but I'll give it a shot.
You're sitting up nice and straight and looking ahead. Good job. However, your back is arched a bit, and it looks as though you could use to relax a little bit more. Your arms are straight, and need to be bent with your elbows closer to your hips, and also relax a bit more. I can't really see what your hands are doing, but they appear to be at about the right height.
Your leg actually appears to be in about the right place, and as for Solo's movement, it would help if I knew a little more about his training. But basically you need to drive him into contact using both steady, but giving, contact on the reins and asking for impulsion with your legs. Once he does this his hind end will come under him, his back will round (hence why it is sometimes called rounding), instead of hollow, his neck should round and his head should become lower. It looks a bit like he lacks muscling, though. Which means this may be above the level of training you should be focusing on with him right now, since without proper muscle it's very difficult for a horse to bend and flex.
First, he's stepping BEAUTIFULLY over the poles. The spacing appears just about perfect. However he's on his forehand and as in the first picture needs to be driven with your leg from behind into contact with the bit. But like I said, depending on his muscling this may be beyond him at the moment.
As for you: Your leg appears to have slid forward ever so slightly, try to keep it under you body at all times. To do this, use your leg muscles (calf and thigh). Your heel is a BIT far down. It's not too bad, but what you should try and do (I'm not sure if you can with your injury, but this is what you aim for), is to hold on (slightly) with your calf and thigh, while sinking your weight into your heels. What you are doing is solely standing in your stirrups, while what you should be aiming to do is use your leg to support you -- but be very careful not to grip with your knee, as this would cause your lower leg to become insecure and swing back, which in turn causes your upper body to pitch forward.
Your back appears to be slightly arched; as my trainer always told me, you want to aim to have a flat back. Your shoulders seem ever so slightly arched. Try to pull them back and DOWN. You don't want to pull them back and cause your back to arch more. So think of pulling them slightly back and letting them drop downwards though your back, while at the same time trying to flatten the arch in it.
Your arms are bent much better in this picture, with your elbows closer to your hips. Your wrists look slightly rounded, though (can't tell perfectly because of the lighting), but if they are, you want your arms to be straight -- including your wrists. Bending them breaks contact with your horse's mouth.
You are leaning a bit far forward for simple ground poles. Unless you are trying specifically to practice a jumping position, in which case I would suggest shortening your stirrups a hole or two and rising so that your butt is completely clear of the saddle -- you want maybe an inch or two between you and the saddle when in half seat (or two point, depending on what you call it), and you want your knee to still be bent so your leg can act as a shock absorber.
First, the trot poles are GREAT for building up Solo's muscle, so definitely keep using those whenever you can.
I would suggest you try a little bit of riding with no stirrups. Just place them over his neck right in front of the saddle and practice your leg position at the walk without them. Remember to hold on (gently, not tightly -- don't grip or anything) with your thighs and your calf, while pushing your heel down -- but don't lock your ankle. I don't know if you know what that feels like or not, but once you do, you'll feel the difference. When you lock your ankle you're simply pushing your heel down (and that's usually how you get your heel REALLY far down). What you should be aiming for is to extend the muscles in the back of your calf to drop your heel down slightly below your toe. Also, remember to try and keep your toes pointing more forward than out.
At the walk, how fast would you say Solo is? Does he just kind of plod along, or does he have a fairly quick walk? That will make a lot of difference for what I suggest you do with him at the walk. And I'd rather not type out both sides, so please let me know!
Now, at the trot, I'm going to suggest you pick up your stirrups, and ask for a nice bold, forward going trot. I want you to get him to that feeling where it feels like he's just about to canter, but not quite cantering. And I want you to ask him to really move off your inside leg. So you're going to apply a little bit of pressure with your inside leg as you go, and slowly start asking for a bend. First thing you're going to do is keep him on the rail. Second thing you're going to do is just ask for a little bend. You're going to do this by pushing ever so slightly with your inside leg, and keeping contact, to maybe even giving a little bit of a tug with your inside rein. Trust me, you will feel it when he steps under himself and drops his head. (I'll see if I can find some pictures to add of a horse bending properly after I type this up).
The only thing to be careful of when you start asking for the bend, is keep an eye on his OUTSIDE shoulder. Some horses evade really bending by popping their outside shoulder out, and thus avoiding contact in a way. When a horse is properly bending their ribcage should be pressed slightly away from your inside leg, and slightly against your outside leg, their head should drop, and their hind legs really move under them. It usually takes someone to point it out for a while, but you'll learn what it feels like after a while, and it gets easy to spot.
As for the trot poles, really keep working on those. They're great for you and him. I would suggest doing pretty much what you're already doing, except try to relax as you go over them. Just give him a little push with your legs as you get up to them so keeps up a nice, impulsive trot over them, and then try to distribute your weight through your calf and thigh, not just your heel, keep your back flat, your eyes ahead, and your elbows bent.
Now, to sum it up, the things you should really work on with YOUR seat are:
Try to keep contact (though nice and giving contact) with his mouth. Adjust your reins to the point where your elbows are just in front of your hips, and really let your arms move with Solo's strides. Let your seat move with him as well. Relax slightly, shoulders back, don't arch your back. And remember, thumbs towards the sky!
Now, I have a question for you. What sort of work do you do with Solo at the canter, and what does he do when you canter?
Oh, and just a couple more things if you want my help... >.> My computer is currently broken, this is my parents and it has dial-up internet. So if you upload any videos I'd have to go over to my grandparents to watch them, so I couldn't necessarily review them right away for you. Also, if you want me to watch any videos for you, I'm not allowed on youtube, so if you could upload them to photobucket or something that would be super awesome.
And if you want to know anything about me or my level of riding or experience or anything, feel free to ask. =) I can't supply much in the way of recent pictures because my computer is busted at the moment, but I could share some old ones.
Anyway, I don't know if you want my help in particular, but I'd be glad to be your online trainer if you like. I've worked with muscling up and teaching a LOT of horses how to bend with my trainer over the last year. So, I have a fairly decent idea of what I'm doing. =P
That horse is fairly on the bit, from a picture it is hard to tell if he's moving from behind, but his back doesn't appear to be hollow and he doesn't seem to be above or below the bit. Notice the rounded outline of the neck? Look carefully. A horse that is overbent will scrunch their neck up and drop their nose in towards their chest REALLY far. That is a bad thing. A horse that is above the bit will have a hollow appearance to their neck.
Horsey above the bit. If you look carefully he's just sort of plodding along, his head is up, and he's clearly avoiding contact with the bit, his neck is hollow, and his back appears to be somewhat too.
And below the bit. To the untrained eye, that might look impressive. Especially since his back is up and he's stepping under himself. But it would be a bad habit for him to continue like that. Always keep in mind, a proper bend, the horse's poll is supposed to be their highest point, not the third vertebre in their neck. Which only makes so much sense to me because even when they bend properly it looks like part of their neck is higher. O.O But I assume maybe it's not the third vertebre? Or it's my imagination?
Anyway, there are the pics. If you want more, I shall get more. And yes, that is me. >.> I don't look so good there. The horse is Buddy. He's a 5 year old OTTB that I worked with with my trainer this spring. He's doing amazing now, but I don't ride him anymore. =(
Sally and tbenitez, thank you for your help, but I think RemebertheName is best for me. Thank you so much for your help and suggestions, though!!
RTN ( hope you don't mind if I nickname you, RemeberTheName), to answer your question, Solo has his moods Some days he is very lazy and has a major lack of "impulsion or any sense of "go" at all. Sometimes it's all I can do to get him to trot. On good days ( ususally cool, over-cast days), he has a nice, bold stride that is soft and swiging, but not "quick"- unless he spots something of interests. He has different speds for each side of the arena. (I was working with him on keeping a consistant speed, and he was doing well before he pulled a muscle in his back. Now we're back to square one, and I am retraining myself and him.)
Unfortunately since I moved barn, and this barn is a small, falling apart place (private, but affordable), we don't have poles.... would plastic piping do, like for water lines and stuff?
As for cantering out of the question right now. He has a bucking issue at the canter. He has had it since we got him, a bad habit he gained when they broke him ( bronc busting way- tossed a saddle on and rode out his bucks for two days). He has yet to throw he- and he's thrown some nasty stuff. But I want to be solid at the trot- for me and him, but for cantering...make sense? I think I have an over developed sense of self preservation sometimes.