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I'm 66 w two bad falls, one mediocre fall - feeling down

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        05-17-2013, 11:31 AM
      #51
    Started
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bsms    
    FWIW, I think dressage is oversold as a style of riding. The books I have suggest it is for everyone. However, the dressage seat often taught is the one used by athletic, skilled riders on highly trained horses to demonstrate the skill and training of both. The dressage oriented books I have downplay how hard it is to ride dressage well, and by doing so they harm the average rider and horse.

    For example, the modern dressage seat has a vertical line from ear to shoulder to hip to heel. The foot will be mostly flat in the stirrup instead of heel down. In comparison, the traditional western seat (which looks to me like most of the paintings and statues of riders going back 2500 years) has the leg angling to the front of the rider.

    I've been playing around with this for some time, but riding 'western' in an English saddle has clarified for me WHY I find western easier: it uses my joints to my advantage. For example, most books, including dressage books, speak of having a relaxed leg draped around your horse. You should not grip with the knee, but let the weight flow uninterrupted into the heel.

    Using the traditional western seat, I can adjust my stirrup length so that the bend of my knee is at the widest point of my mare's barrel. It doesn't matter if my hips are tight. It doesn't matter if some of my muscles need to stretch during the first 15-20 minutes of riding. It allows a joint - my knee - to follow the shape of my horse and drape around her in a relaxed manner. In this position, it is very hard to grip with the knee because the knee is folded around the shape of the horse. To start gripping with the knee, I need to bring my heel back.

    Also, why does the cinch go around the horse where it does? It is because that is the smallest circumference of the horse. That makes it the easiest place to wrap my legs around her, because it is where my legs need to spread the least. (This isn't a contradiction...I want my legs to go where her barrel is smallest, and then adjust my stirrups so my knees lie against the widest point on her smallest circumference).

    This vase is from roughly 540 BC:



    This is an illustration from a dressage text written in 1729:



    That has been the easiest place to put your leg for a LONG time!

    It also has some disadvantages. I'm told by much more experienced riders that it limits the cues you can give with your spurs, and that you can give a greater variety and more subtle signals to your horse if your heel is under your hip. And I believe them. I don't ride with spurs and don't give my horses lots of subtle cues with my heel. My horses are not highly trained, and neither am I.

    For a good, experienced dressage rider riding a good, well trained horse, there may be a lot of advantages to having the heel under the hip because of the cues you can give and the subtlety and just how impressive it looks. And I'm sure a well-trained, experienced rider who is a competitive athlete can make it work without gripping with their knees.

    But I'm a guy who has done more weightlifting than dancing, and started at 50, and who spent 40 years jogging daily. I have tight hips, tight legs, and I've spent 5 years riding struggling to loosen my knees and get weight into my heels. When I move my heels about 4-6 inches in front of my belt buckle, and adjust the length of my stirrups to put the fold of my knee at my horse's widest point, it becomes hard to grip with my knee. It becomes natural to let my leg fold relaxed around her, because I'm letting the joints do the bending.

    The same is true of moving with my horse's back during a trot or canter. In the traditional western seat, the place most humans bend easily - the waist - is used to absorb the motion of the canter:



    You follow the motion of the horse by moving your hips up and forward by unfolding at the waist. This is easy. It will NOT impress a judge, but it is an easy way to move with your horse. I tried it earlier this week on Mia in my English jump saddle, and it worked. For the first time since I learned to canter a couple of years ago, I was able to keep my rump in contact with the saddle while moving with her well enough that she stayed happy and moving. The only change I saw was that she shifted some of her weight to the rear (following my weight), and thus cantered slower than when we canter in a forward seat.

    The spine is not meant to compress vertically. A lot of threads discuss how strong and flexibly you must be, working from your core, to do so. And the end result, with a skilled rider on a good horse, is darn impressive.

    But I ride 3-4 hours/week tops. VS Littauer argued that recreational riders who rode less than 6 hours a week would not have the physical conditioning to ride like a more frequent rider, and that they (we!) needed to adapt our style to stay within our limitations so we could ride without irritating or hurting the horse. I think that is true. It is as silly for me to think I can ride like a top rider while riding 3 hours/week as it is for me to think I can run like a top runner while training 3 hours/week. Or play football like a pro football player while only practicing 3 hours/week.

    And as an older rider, security is important to me. Staying in the saddle, moving with my horse, keeping maximum contact with her - those help me stay on. Pretending I'm a competitive dressage or jump rider does not. My legs will not drape around my horse at my horse's widest point, even if she is an Arabian! Instead, that creates tension, causes my knees to grip, pushes me up out of the saddle, makes it hard for me to move with her...lots of bad things happen. And they will continue to happen, because I don't ride enough or have years of training in riding that style.

    Just something to think about. I think it is fun to watch dressage videos. I also like to watch folks jumping 6 foot oxers, but I'll be darned if I am going to try it!

    And if any of this doesn't help, feel free to ignore it. I'm a total nobody in the world of riding.
    Thanks for writing that BSMS....really good. There was a time, not so long ago, when I started taking lessons for the first time...that I actually thought I wasn't good enough to ride! I didn't have the perfect body or perfect to learn on for that matter. What am I doing riding a young, green horse and a re-hab horse being so dysfunctional myself? But, I got over it and realize that my horses are lucky to have me, just as much as the horses that have professional riders. They have brought me nothing but happiness and in turn I try and take very good care of them. I have a hard time believing that my having them is not a good thing, even if they are not perfect and either am I.
         
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        05-17-2013, 01:00 PM
      #52
    Yearling
    This has been a very refreshing thread. No bickering, great advice, humor filled responses to that advice, no snide judgement, and I'm reassured that I can continue doing what I love for years to come without having to impress or prove anything to anyone. This is how it should be. :)
         
        05-17-2013, 01:12 PM
      #53
    Super Moderator
    I am so glad that you started this thread, too. There is a huge thread for the "over 40" crowd, but I haven't the patience to try to catch on to what they are talkikng about , and many of the posters are 40 or not even, so to me, they really aren't middle aged yet.

    It IS hard to see and admit our limits. And I can imagine , OP , that you ARE proud of your capabilities. Not many women your age DO ride.
    I am proud of mine, too. Most of the women my age that I ride with will not gallop the horse, nor jump a log from time to time. I still do, but am feeling a growing sense of the risk involved. Being in good physical shape is paramount, and I know that I am NOT in shape, so am misssing out there and having to work all the harder to compensate for that .

    Anyway . . . As for how to satisfy your love of horse as you age, there's always groundwork, and there's teaching. You can learn a TON of ground work skills and it can be extremely engaging; something that you can perfect little by little and that has a depth of challenges to it that you keep plumbing as you go along. And teaching. Even if you are not an experienced rider yet, you can still work at a therauputic riding stable. You still know something that somebody else does not, and will value your sharing it with them.

    Just your sharing your drive to continue riding, here, has sparked a sense of determination and pride in those of us who do feel the limits of age creeping up on us. We thank you.
         
        05-17-2013, 01:16 PM
      #54
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bsms    
    FWIW, I think dressage is oversold as a style of riding. The books I have suggest it is for everyone. However, the dressage seat often taught is the one used by athletic, skilled riders on highly trained horses to demonstrate the skill and training of both. The dressage oriented books I have downplay how hard it is to ride dressage well, and by doing so they harm the average rider and horse.

    For example, the modern dressage seat has a vertical line from ear to shoulder to hip to heel. The foot will be mostly flat in the stirrup instead of heel down. In comparison, the traditional western seat (which looks to me like most of the paintings and statues of riders going back 2500 years) has the leg angling to the front of the rider.

    I've been playing around with this for some time, but riding 'western' in an English saddle has clarified for me WHY I find western easier: it uses my joints to my advantage. For example, most books, including dressage books, speak of having a relaxed leg draped around your horse. You should not grip with the knee, but let the weight flow uninterrupted into the heel.

    Using the traditional western seat, I can adjust my stirrup length so that the bend of my knee is at the widest point of my mare's barrel. It doesn't matter if my hips are tight. It doesn't matter if some of my muscles need to stretch during the first 15-20 minutes of riding. It allows a joint - my knee - to follow the shape of my horse and drape around her in a relaxed manner. In this position, it is very hard to grip with the knee because the knee is folded around the shape of the horse. To start gripping with the knee, I need to bring my heel back.

    Also, why does the cinch go around the horse where it does? It is because that is the smallest circumference of the horse. That makes it the easiest place to wrap my legs around her, because it is where my legs need to spread the least. (This isn't a contradiction...I want my legs to go where her barrel is smallest, and then adjust my stirrups so my knees lie against the widest point on her smallest circumference).

    This vase is from roughly 540 BC:



    This is an illustration from a dressage text written in 1729:



    That has been the easiest place to put your leg for a LONG time!

    It also has some disadvantages. I'm told by much more experienced riders that it limits the cues you can give with your spurs, and that you can give a greater variety and more subtle signals to your horse if your heel is under your hip. And I believe them. I don't ride with spurs and don't give my horses lots of subtle cues with my heel. My horses are not highly trained, and neither am I.

    For a good, experienced dressage rider riding a good, well trained horse, there may be a lot of advantages to having the heel under the hip because of the cues you can give and the subtlety and just how impressive it looks. And I'm sure a well-trained, experienced rider who is a competitive athlete can make it work without gripping with their knees.

    But I'm a guy who has done more weightlifting than dancing, and started at 50, and who spent 40 years jogging daily. I have tight hips, tight legs, and I've spent 5 years riding struggling to loosen my knees and get weight into my heels. When I move my heels about 4-6 inches in front of my belt buckle, and adjust the length of my stirrups to put the fold of my knee at my horse's widest point, it becomes hard to grip with my knee. It becomes natural to let my leg fold relaxed around her, because I'm letting the joints do the bending.

    The same is true of moving with my horse's back during a trot or canter. In the traditional western seat, the place most humans bend easily - the waist - is used to absorb the motion of the canter:



    You follow the motion of the horse by moving your hips up and forward by unfolding at the waist. This is easy. It will NOT impress a judge, but it is an easy way to move with your horse. I tried it earlier this week on Mia in my English jump saddle, and it worked. For the first time since I learned to canter a couple of years ago, I was able to keep my rump in contact with the saddle while moving with her well enough that she stayed happy and moving. The only change I saw was that she shifted some of her weight to the rear (following my weight), and thus cantered slower than when we canter in a forward seat.

    The spine is not meant to compress vertically. A lot of threads discuss how strong and flexibly you must be, working from your core, to do so. And the end result, with a skilled rider on a good horse, is darn impressive.

    But I ride 3-4 hours/week tops. VS Littauer argued that recreational riders who rode less than 6 hours a week would not have the physical conditioning to ride like a more frequent rider, and that they (we!) needed to adapt our style to stay within our limitations so we could ride without irritating or hurting the horse. I think that is true. It is as silly for me to think I can ride like a top rider while riding 3 hours/week as it is for me to think I can run like a top runner while training 3 hours/week. Or play football like a pro football player while only practicing 3 hours/week.

    And as an older rider, security is important to me. Staying in the saddle, moving with my horse, keeping maximum contact with her - those help me stay on. Pretending I'm a competitive dressage or jump rider does not. My legs will not drape around my horse at my horse's widest point, even if she is an Arabian! Instead, that creates tension, causes my knees to grip, pushes me up out of the saddle, makes it hard for me to move with her...lots of bad things happen. And they will continue to happen, because I don't ride enough or have years of training in riding that style.

    Just something to think about. I think it is fun to watch dressage videos. I also like to watch folks jumping 6 foot oxers, but I'll be darned if I am going to try it!

    And if any of this doesn't help, feel free to ignore it. I'm a total nobody in the world of riding.
    This is a wonderful post, a wonderful thread actually. I'm glad it's here for reference.

    I ride one horse, a qh who is simply perfect for me. I don't know if she's gaited, but she is smooth in all gaits and in transition and particularly in her ability to adjust herself to her rider and I to her. She is one of the most popular horses in the stable because in spite of her difficulties in a stall her confidence and sense of purpose with a rider is unsurpassed - the poor thing is like two horses. I can do anything with her including side passing and any kind of turn and I suppose the problem has been finding another horse I can work with as I have with her. SHE was fabulous. I got to feel fabulous riding her. I rode her exclusively from last summer to Feb and since then, it's been difficult to find the right horse to work with.

    I have no problems in a trot and that included the warmblood who was itching to move out. But I do like sitting them and don't enjoy posting in the formal bobbing way, which feels to me terribly excessive. Maybe it's not but it certainly FEELS so. I developed my own posting method when doing western, removing my weight but instead of bobbing, I lay up my weight and rhythmically hold myself away from their backs. Sometimes it feels nice to ride a trot that way and serves the purpose of lightening up my weight on their backs.

    I love the way the diagrams show how natural it is riding a horse with a leg a bit forward in relation to the hips. It took me a long time to find a good stirrup length where my legs were not bent and I could wrap around my horse.

    I have an opportunity to lease a QH, a centered riding horse who's a lovely horse, really easy and he's a nice ride. I've had no problems in a canter with him except he had a tooth issue where he'd rub his head against his legs at the ****dest times and stumble and I didn't want to risk more than a trot with him. Plus the opportunity I was offered to ride at the school where I am now, where there are so many horses to ride and so many excellent riders to watch and the arena size is enormous. I love riding in a large space. The arenas in the first school are small and sometimes crowded.

    I think if the first horse didn't stumble or have that tooth issue that comes and goes I wouldn't hesitate but because of those issues I do. And then there's money - leasing AND taking lessons adds up and at this stage I want to continue taking lessons and expanding my knowledge so that's an issue as well.

    Thank you for this terrific addition to the discussion. Very interesting and helpful.
         
        05-17-2013, 01:33 PM
      #55
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinyliny    
    I am so glad that you started this thread, too. There is a huge thread for the "over 40" crowd, but I haven't the patience to try to catch on to what they are talkikng about , and many of the posters are 40 or not even, so to me, they really aren't middle aged yet.

    It IS hard to see and admit our limits. And I can imagine , OP , that you ARE proud of your capabilities. Not many women your age DO ride.
    I am proud of mine, too. Most of the women my age that I ride with will not gallop the horse, nor jump a log from time to time. I still do, but am feeling a growing sense of the risk involved. Being in good physical shape is paramount, and I know that I am NOT in shape, so am misssing out there and having to work all the harder to compensate for that .

    Anyway . . . As for how to satisfy your love of horse as you age, there's always groundwork, and there's teaching. You can learn a TON of ground work skills and it can be extremely engaging; something that you can perfect little by little and that has a depth of challenges to it that you keep plumbing as you go along. And teaching. Even if you are not an experienced rider yet, you can still work at a therauputic riding stable. You still know something that somebody else does not, and will value your sharing it with them.

    Just your sharing your drive to continue riding, here, has sparked a sense of determination and pride in those of us who do feel the limits of age creeping up on us. We thank you.
    Oh Liny you made me tear up.

    I started posting here a bit back when I first started taking formal lessons, after a great experience at a dude ranch in Colorado (where the horses are like mountain goats, they're so good).

    I had hoped learning English Dressage would benefit me but I don't know if it will. Western feels natural to me. English doesn't, although when I first started I took simple English riding lessons and I enjoyed them immensely. I LOVE doing the Western Dressage end of this actually - leg yielding and side passing and turns and transitions. But I can't get it into my head how the horse is moving and how I make him/her move. I understand it in the specialty moves because they're moving against my leg pressure or my reining. But in the gaits, it's not coming to me at all. I thought English Dressage would help with that.

    Once I was biten by this passtime/sport, I can't stop because it's simply not the doing it - it's also the horses. They are a hoot. I swear they are. I know they can be difficult and have their own ways but I love them and I find riding them joyous.

    You're right, I know. That I could help out at a theraputic fascility and while there are not a lot of them very close to me, it may be in my cards yet. Now that I know horses, like dogs, I want them in my life. THe bond between us cannot be denied or walked away from.
         
        05-17-2013, 01:44 PM
      #56
    Super Moderator
    I make people tear up all the time. Must be my breath. Better take a Tic Tac or sompin.
         
        05-17-2013, 01:49 PM
      #57
    Started
    I'm hoping that it is the same for other people that are in the second half of their lives, as it is for me.....I think as we get older, we let go of those things that we thought meant so much in our younger years. It's the smaller and simpler things that mean the most. I've given up a lot of my control of things and perfectionism, and have found myself so much happier. I'm not worried about being the best or winning the most....just having fun and taking care of my horses the best way I can. Life is too short for sure. So, in giving up the things I can't control, I can smile and laugh now.
         
        05-17-2013, 01:54 PM
      #58
    Super Moderator
    I agree OHL! I am really probably the happiest I've ever been, on a day by day basis, in my mid 50's!
    outnabout, bsms, nvr2many and 2 others like this.
         
        05-17-2013, 02:21 PM
      #59
    Green Broke
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Oldhorselady    
    I'm hoping that it is the same for other people that are in the second half of their lives, as it is for me.....I think as we get older, we let go of those things that we thought meant so much in our younger years. It's the smaller and simpler things that mean the most. I've given up a lot of my control of things and perfectionism, and have found myself so much happier. I'm not worried about being the best or winning the most....just having fun and taking care of my horses the best way I can. Life is too short for sure. So, in giving up the things I can't control, I can smile and laugh now.
    ^^^ WOW! You said it sister!!!
         
        05-17-2013, 03:49 PM
      #60
    Started
    Oh, oh! The LIKE button isn't working.
    I think we have worn out the LIKE button with this thread. : )
         

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