Leaning too far forward - advice wanted
 
 

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Leaning too far forward - advice wanted

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    08-02-2013, 11:56 PM
  #1
Foal
Question Leaning too far forward - advice wanted

I ride in what my instructor calls an "exaggerated Littauer position." I don't know how to fix it. At the walk I'm ok, over poles and jumps she says, "oh, that looks nice." But at the trot I'm a hot mess, leaning forward, etc. Pretty much everybody who's honest says I'm a terrible rider. Know I need to get in better shape and work on my core balance. Getting one of those exercise balls.

I'm 5'10, 190lb. Way too heavy after a hysterectomy 3 years ago. Gained 40 lb overnight and haven't been able to lose it but actually haven't much tried. Kind of been depressed and horses are really my best outlet, giving me a happiness I really haven't experienced since I was a child/teen and riding. Even when I was lighter, however, I still had that exaggerated Littauer position (brief periods of riding between the 80's and 2003) because that's how I learned to ride back in the 70's and 80's.

My torso is long compared to my legs and maybe that is partially to blame. But it seems like I just don't feel balanced unless I'm leaning forward. My trainer says it's my fallback position or something like that. When I get anxious I "go into the fetal position" is pretty much what she yells at me about when I'm riding.

I know this is terrible for the horse to have to absorb my weight plus his own on the knees and front legs as he should be using more from his haunches. Also it's terrible for his ability to collect.

My horse does have difficulty with his balance (on his own running free in the field or on the lunge and with other people riding him). Leaning forward only further exacerbates this and I'm very worried about his knees already which the trainer says are "slightly weak." But he is coming 5. I did see an eventer ride him, she's young and very in shape, and another rider who's young and talented and they both made my horse look like a million bucks. He collected right up and stepped out.

I know if I was a better rider I would be able to get so much more out of him and kind of determined to do that. Would love to do baby level eventing if I ever got in shape enough again. Not sure what the smallest level eventing is called. But my dressage test would be hideous, I'm sure.

Two trainers have told me to get a Western saddle but I really like hunt seat saddles. Actually the close contact M. Tolouse premia is my favorite. The Wintec 2000 causes me to lean even more forward.

I'd appreciate any advise on riding techniques, exercises out of the saddle for me, or for my horse, as well as advice on which saddle I should get. Would really like a hunt seat saddle.
     
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    08-03-2013, 12:08 AM
  #2
Showing
I have no real suggestions on saddles as I don't ride English, but have you done much no-stirrup work? That's generally a really good way to help you find your natural balance.

I'm sure there are others here that can suggest some really good exercises to help you, but it may come down to just sheer willpower...reminding yourself every single instant while riding to sit up straight and keep those shoulders back. Re-training your body to ride differently than you're used to takes a lot of work and a lot of time, but it can be done. Trust me, I've had to re-train my own body to get rid of some bad habits picked up when I was younger. I still struggle with some of them, but those struggles are infrequent and I usually only have to remind myself once and then my body sort of fixes the problem.

Don't give up and don't get discouraged! It takes time and work but all things can be improved.
     
    08-03-2013, 12:15 AM
  #3
Weanling
Sounds like a balance issue. It certainly doesn't help if both you and your horse are unbalanced.

Do you have the same tilting problem on another more balanced mount?

We all tend to the foetal thing when we feel threatened and it takes concentration to stop doing it.

I know this is personal, but if you have a big bust do you have a really good support bra? My daughter found this helped her a bit as it stopped the bouncing and discomfort.

Next, your saddle does fit correctly doesn't it? It isn't too high at the front as this encourages you to lean forward to try and sit centrally.

I'm not sure what exactly a hunt seat saddle is but I'm guessing it has a more forward seat? And you say the Wintec 2000 makes you worse. As an Allpurpose saddle this also has a more forward cut.

Perhaps you could borrow a dressage saddle for a few rides, as these are designed to make you sit 'up' more and keep you in a more centralised position. Just to see if it makes a difference.

We can't all afford to purchase different saddles so we have to learn to ride in what we've got but it you could borrow one for a short time it will be one more thing you can discount.

Another thing that we used to have to do as kids is ride with a crop or whip behind our back and threaded through our elbows. It's not the easiest riding in the world but it does stop you collapsing in your middle. Once again, just for short periods in a controlled environment.

Having said all that, think about your legs aswell. They are your safety belt so if they are not holding the horse correctly then you won't have that lower stabity. A lot of learners (i'm not saying you are necessarily a learner) don't hold the horse with their legs so therefore their legs are moving all over the place and it is extremely difficult to sit centrally when your lower body is moving back and forward.

Just a few thoughts. I'm sure others will have plenty more.
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    08-03-2013, 12:43 AM
  #4
Banned
I find, really when it comes to position, and I've had the gamete of position fix ups to do that you really have to focus, focus, focus when riding, in fact one should focus more on their position 10x more than that of the horse. It really takes a person thinking actively while riding, and repetition. I've had the looking down problem (and still fall into it occasionally) the leaning forward issue....just load of different things.

Sometimes it's better to just bring things back to a walk and get it perfect then progress to a jog then a trot slowing perfecting yourself at each gait. Take ONE thing and work on it until you've got it down packed then move one to the next thing.....and I'm talking about position, not the horse
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    08-03-2013, 12:56 AM
  #5
Showing
Wait, people are saying you're a "terrible rider" ??

What?!??

We need videos, pronto. I am pretty sure you are not and seeing a video of you ride (or a picture) will help us to tell you why you're leaning forward.. and to assure you that you aren't a terrible rider.

Man, how rude of them..
smrobs likes this.
     
    08-03-2013, 01:14 AM
  #6
Showing
Agreed, Sky. It's not okay for them to call you a terrible rider. Nobody is perfect and we all have our faults (both large and small) that we struggle with.

Some riders are not as strong or experienced as others, but that doesn't make them "terrible riders", it just means that they have a lot to learn and may benefit from some help instead of degradation. And, regardless of how a person rides or how experienced they are, if they are trying to learn, then there is always something good to say about how they are riding.

I agree about the video/pictures as well. If you are able, perhaps some of the more experienced English eyes here can give you some suggestions of things to work on.
     
    08-03-2013, 02:06 AM
  #7
Foal
These are all such great ideas and tips!! I'm so glad I asked this question.

Smrobs, really appreciate what you shared about learning to retrain your body position and also the importance of not getting discouraged and sticking with it. I do get frustrated. The good news is I'm better than I was last fall when we worked together. We've been working on walk/trot/canter transitions and really trying to sit up through those.

Makin tracks - I did do better on a more balanced mare I used to ride. Her trot was smoother, not like riding my guy's "trampoline trot." I am more top heavy now, not uncomfortable from a riding perspective, but wonder if the biomechanics might have something to do with it.

I wonder if it even makes sense to buy a saddle until I lose weight. I will look into borrowing a dressage saddle if I can find one. Will also try putting the crop behind my elbows. Hadn't heard that one before and it's an excellent idea.

Maybe riding bareback a few times might help my balance. I notice the kids seem to be so balanced when they ride their ponies and horses bareback. My legs need a lot of work, too. That's for sure.

Muppetgirl - I think your pick up on the having to "focus, focus, focus" is very important. It's nice to know you've had problems, too. Guess I was feeling like I was almost alone out there. Definitely agree and will remember your point about paying 10x more attention to my position than the horse's. Hands, reins, legs, sitting up, looking where I want to go, hip position, not leaning while using my weight in the stirrups and saddle.

I'm curious about what you all think about trying to work my horse for 15 minutes every two weeks in a Pessoa or long lines to work on his balance - wonder if I should try that or just work him on walk trot transitions at the lunge and under saddle? His lunging skills are still not super great and I barely know how to lunge him at all. We are working on that - mostly walk trot transitions on the lunge. Changing from one way to the other has not been working so well with the 17 hand beast. :) It sure would be one dangerous mess if I got that Pessoa on him while working by myself and he freaked out. That would NOT be a good thing.

Sky, it is hurtful to hear that I'm not a good rider but even more hurtful when I hear negative comments about my horse. It has really shocked me how sensitive I am about his abilities. It's like someone saying something negative about your child. It really makes me want to prove them wrong. On the other hand, I do have to be open to feedback and really listen in my position. I will see about getting an (ahem, embarrassing) video a friend took of me riding online. Do you know where to upload the video so I can link it to this forum.
smrobs likes this.
     
    08-03-2013, 02:22 AM
  #8
Showing
You can upload it to a third party photo sharing site like Photobucket or you can upload it on Youtube (youtube is generally the easiest and fastest).

I don't know if working him in a Pessoa would help that much (though it probably couldn't hurt if you know how to use it properly...or your trainer does). Since you said he'd been ridden by others and he collected up nicely, he may just be the type of horse that knows how to do it, but needs to be asked properly. If that's the case, then he's a perfect horse to learn on because he is willing and able to respond properly when you ask correctly.
     
    08-03-2013, 07:18 AM
  #9
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by makin tracks    
Sounds like a balance issue. It certainly doesn't help if both you and your horse are unbalanced.

We all tend to the foetal thing when we feel threatened and it takes concentration to stop doing it.
This. You will always see insecure/less confident riders leaning forward because in the back of your mind, you don't want to fall off the back of the horse. Unfortunately, once you get your weight over your horse's shoulders, your horse will get very heavy in the front end and you'll have a terribly bumpy ride, too, which only makes it worse. Build your core muscle strength, try to relax in the saddle, and be aware of your position, but don't over think it. Thinking too much will just make you stiff and you'll a different, but similar problem. Keep it "fun" and don't let riding become "work". The more you ride, the more you'll relax.
     
    08-03-2013, 09:58 AM
  #10
Showing
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doodlesweaver    

Sky, it is hurtful to hear that I'm not a good rider but even more hurtful when I hear negative comments about my horse. It has really shocked me how sensitive I am about his abilities. It's like someone saying something negative about your child. It really makes me want to prove them wrong. On the other hand, I do have to be open to feedback and really listen in my position. I will see about getting an (ahem, embarrassing) video a friend took of me riding online. Do you know where to upload the video so I can link it to this forum.
I know exactly what you mean. When someone insults my horse, it stings like salted wounds. But then I realize that their opinion doesn't matter anyway because I know how wonderful and talented and what a bright spark he is.

But seriously, there should be no dissing of you or your horse.

Best place to upload a video is youtube. You can modify the settings so only those with the url of the video can see it (unlinked I believe is what it is called)

And no worries, even I'm a tad shy about my riding videos. It's only natural.
     

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