Hi guys! Many of you know I have been back to riding now for nine lessons over three months!! Woo hoo! THIS video was not shot at a lesson, however, it would have been number 9, had it been, but this was just a "Free Ride"!
This is a brief clip of me riding Victory, doing some basic walk and rising trot work...My main focus was practicing my posting and transitions, etc...and this is a very brief video, but should be enough to give an overall picture. I am riding here in a 17" saddle and not a 17.5", (I wish I had been in the 17.5" as that fits me so much better...I am definitely aware of this, as well, am aware that I tend to get quite stiff in my upper back/shoulders and TILT at times as a result...I am working REALLY hard on that; it is a left over part of the neurological illness which almost "took me out", so to speak, back in 2002)!
I am very curious to see where folks may think I "fall" on an imaginary continuim of all returning riders with this amount of time BACK in the saddle, after being a fairly decent child/teen/young adult rider...(were there such a TOOL)...This aspect of the critique is what I am MOST interested in (though I am happy to hear it all, good and bad!). Thank you in advance for watching (now, I just hope I can load the VIDEO!) hehe
I thought there was a lot to like about how you're progressing. Some of the things I liked (I took these snapshots and will leave them on my imageshack account for a week or two, then delete them):
1 - Your lower leg seemed pretty stable. I started at 50, and my hips were so tight that I gripped with my knee for the first 2-3 YEARS. It is also tied to
2 - Your posting looked natural. For the first couple of years, my daughter would post with an exaggerated forward thrust of her hips, making her look like a Jack-in-the-Box. She's much better now, but you looked relaxed and your body and legs were unfolding and settling. You looked balanced both at the up position and the down.
In the picture below, you can see I often tilt too far forward. Maybe because of the saddle, or maybe because I have the least natural talent of any rider I've ever met . My horse doesn't seem to mind, but I'd bet the old injury to my lower back would ache a lot less if I'd get more upright:
In my defense, I do better on the trail...I stop thinking about my position and relax:
3 - Your hands seemed stable. There was a little slack in the reins, which is how I like to ride - enough slack that I'm not all over my horse's mouth, but tight enough that my pinky can take some of the slack out and let the horse know what I'm thinking.
4 - You are looking up and out. Good!
Now, not so good.
I like a chair seat for some things, but I'm weird. The saddle is causing part of it, but your feet are too far forward. What makes sense to me is to assume that for any given saddle, my rump should be in the lowest part of the saddle and the stirrup straps should hang down straight. Those are the things that make gravity my friend. Any time I deviate from that, I'm fighting gravity. And gravity usually kicks my butt.
If you imagine where the stirrup bars are, and draw a line straight down, that is your goal for your stirrup position. Using that criteria, I'd say the saddle is causing some of the forward foot, but you are causing some as well. But remember, I'd have been thrilled just to not have my legs flopping around like chicken wings at the same point...
When you slow, you put your feet forward. I do that too, but most people say it is wrong. I also do it regularly when riding. It stretches my leg, relaxes my leg, helps me get my heel down and my horse relaxes - probably in response to my leg relaxing. But it also has some drawbacks, and it is better not to get into the habit.
It also looks like you are looking at your horse instead of up and out.
Overall, I'd say you are making great progress. Lots of what you once knew is coming back. Nice looking horse, too.
When I don't overthink things and just relax on my horse, riding does lots of wonderful things for my body.
Oh - and remember to slather on the sunscreen. I love being out in the Arizona sun, but at 54, I can promise it is hell on the skin! During my years on the flightline, I had a long sleeve flightsuit on - but my hands are starting to look like an 80 year old cowboy's. And I'm going in to a dermatologist in a couple of weeks to have moles removed from my face & a biopsy on them...Mr Sun has kicked my butt!
Thank you so very much for the obviously well-thought out and thorough response. Means a ton to me, really!
First, I wish to address the chair seat issue, and how ABSOLUTELY CORRECT YOU ARE! I find it frustrating, because exactly as you stated, it is half or 2/3 me, and half or 1/3 saddle-related. I thank you so much for the snapshot, because it REALLY SHOWS JUST how chair seated I look! When I initially mount, I always do a "check in" re: leg position with my trainer. I'll ask her, "Am I in line heel, hip, shoulder, ear?" & she'll check and tell me "yep!" & off we go, wherein my position no doubt quickly deteriorates!
I imagine it has a TON TO DO with me putting my feet forward when I slow, just as you SAID, AND I THANK YOU, as I never would have recognized that, at this early point, on my own, nor would Holly mention it I imagine, as she is busy working with me on other things which I TEND TO WORRY MORE ABOUT, THINKING, "My position hasn't changed since mounting...(DUH)." Makes SO MUCH SENSE, & I am DEFINITELY GOING to be conscious of this now. I truly appreciate it!
As for saddle, when I first began riding again, I learned on a GREAT YOU TUBE SITE how many saddles put one into an unavoidable non-aligned, or chair position! I'll try to find it. In fact, the company who puts out the video MAKES a saddle with the leather bars much father back, as to create a naturally more aligned position. I decided way back then that when I EVER GET A HORSE of my own, THAT IS THE SADDLE I'M BUYING! (I think I'll post a thread about it and see what others think about said saddle...!) Moving on...
I definitely look down too much! Again, great exemplary snap shot! Definitely helps me see myself even better than the video!
I'm trying to keep this short, because my smart phone tosses me off mid-post all the time...but thank you for the compliments as well...it's a tough road, but every lesson a teeny bit more comes back...In six years, I'll have it made!! :0)
I also have 20# to lose, and am getting there; I know losing the wt will help my balance and improve the whole situation with my tight back/neck/neuro issues!!
Thanks for the sunscreen tip! I'm actually a sun screen FREAK, & am a BIT TAN now by accident from one long horseshow w/o enough on! :0)
I obviously could see the difference in your posture on the trail, vs the photo in the ring...I was told by my trainer that "we" (riders) all lean forward at times of uncertainty regarding our horse's movement. Are you more anxious in the arena, or just "trying too hard" there? I CERTAINLY DO NOT THINK you are anywhere close to having the "least natural talent" (did I quote that correctly?) of any rider! I think you look happy and like you're having fun, ESP. In photos on the site I've seen of you riding with your adorable daughter! What a great "riding partner" to have!!
If I missed any comments, I'll come back to them in a later post...phone don't fail me NOW!
Thank you again so much! Very best to you! B2H Posted via Mobile Device
You look good up there! You definitely need to get those shoulders back, chest out, elbows relaxed, legs back, and calves engaged (right now you using too much leg below the calf) and hands steadier. You are working too hard at posting because of your position, let the horse do most of work! A few good exercises would be to drop your stirrups, 2 point seat, and no hands while on the longe line. Once you can improve your position and get your calves elongated, you feel some differences in your horse as well. Good luck and keep practicing! Posted via Mobile Device
I'm more anxious in an arena, and it does result in my leaning too far forward. Mia can feel competitive with a horse out in front of her, and she'll suddenly accelerate. Leaning forward doesn't make it better, of course - probably makes it worse, if anything - but my subconscious mind doesn't always obey my conscious mind!
Thanks so much! Again, things I knew were happening, but not WHY. Can you explain what the meaning of "calves engaged" is, exactly? I haven't heard that terminology, and I want to be sure I'm able to get the most out of a critique you put effort into! :0)
You mention that I'm using "too much leg below the calf", so I have to assume that means the calf is NOT engaged? I SO NEED to loosen/relax my upper body, and between being really a muscular (mesomorhic), not naturally "loose" sort of person, and with the neurologic issues I've had, loosening is a constant thing...I finally an Peking after ten years not to walk around with my shoulders scrunched up to my ears...and that is OFF OF THE HORSE! :0) I tend to tense my whole body naturally, and it causes me some problems, (as you can see in the video!
Okay, next question, in regard to elongating calves...is this related to pushing heels further down, or something else? I do a lot of stair-stretches, etc, and gosh, you wouldn't BELIEVE how awful they were a few months ago! Lol...I'm so happy with your overall suggestions for creating improvement, as these are basically all the things Holly and I work on...we do weekly no-stirrup work, longe line/no reins, eyes closed work, etc...so everyone seems to be on the same page, seeing the same things which need strengthening and that is what I'm working on, so I'll take that to mean I AM on the right track...? :0)
I look forward to understanding the calf thing! I love learning about things like that, and certainly about things which can help me get a better handle on my riding! I do so hope you'll come back and share more...I also am, again, so appreciative of your time and critique!! Thank you!!!
I can totally see why that would make arena riding more stressful! I also think it's so funny, because I do the exact same thing (as do thousands of riders, from what I have read and been told!) when my balance begins to go at the more forward trot, I LEAN FORWARD...GUESS WHAT? Yah, she moves faster...just as your horse does, no doubt...like race horses, lean forward = fast! Humans "physical responses to physical and emotional stressors" can be so counter intuitive with horses...they must constantly be thinking "Whaaa?" when it comes to these darned people on their backs! :0)
Thank you for coming on and providing support/agreement with the other issues raised! And I definitely agree with you as well that BSMS DID DO A LOVELY JOB with his critique, even not riding English! I think in the beginning stages (where, sadly-haha-I am bound to remain for some time), English/Western, it's all RIDING, thus anyone with any sort of riding talent themselves CAN see the basics in others, even if it isn't their discipline, because basics are GENERALLY SPEAKING, similar across disciplines...
I CERTAINLY appreciate your continued support throughout my WHOLE journey thus far, which I have shared on HF. You're great and I appreciate it so much! :0)
Thanks guys!!! (hugs) :0) Posted via Mobile Device
BSMS, may I just tell you that I think that much of your problem is not relaxing and being overly worried! The difference between the picture of you in the arena and you on trails is pretty big- I assume the pictures were taking in a similar time frame, correct? I think you ride by yourself most of the time. Tell me if I'm wrong. If you do ride by yourself, there's no reason to be anxious.
I believe most riders, especially beginners, tend to go forward and almost try to curl up into a fetal position when nervous about something, or doing something they're not comfortable with. This takes time to get over.
You do have a chair seat. However, it looks like the saddle isn't helping with this. Remember to keep your elbows close to your body. I really like your posting.
It's kind of hard to see, but it looks like when you lift your elbows away from your body, your wrists angle inwards. I keep wanting to say it looks like the angle "breaks" from what it should be, but I'm not sure if that's right or makes any sense.
I like how you pat and praise the horse! This is something people tend to forget.
Spot on critique re: turning the hands in...it's something that I seem to do the minute I start to lose my balance, so I'm hopeful that as my balance improves & I get stronger, it will repair itself--same with the darned elbows! Re: my wrist turn in thing, very weirdly I seem to do it more with the inside wrist (left OR right, whichever way I'm going!)& my trainer has said most don't do it quite that way, so apparently I suck in a "unique" way -- haha!!
I do also def point my toes out too much-however ONE positive is that it IS IMPROVING...check out my "FIRST LESSON PICS" on the blonde paint horse! Hoping to KEEP improving with that fairly steadily ...(ugh!) :0)
Thank you so much for the critique/comments and for the positive reinforcement!! If you (or anyone) can suggest a METHOD/LOTS OF METHODS (ha!) for getting those darn toes of mine pointing forward faster, I would love that!!
Again, I so appreciate your time! Oh, & there are some other short videos of me and lovely Victory just from that same day, on my you tube channel! When the posted video ends, there are others that might be viewable in the little square that opens up? I've seen others work that way...I will put up some newer ones in a few months and we can all compare and check for progress! (please let there be some!! Ha!)