Lower leg in sitting trot?
 
 

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Lower leg in sitting trot?

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  • Do i have to squeeze my thighs when trotting
  • How to sit the trot on a bouncy horse

 
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    02-21-2013, 06:22 PM
  #1
Foal
Lower leg in sitting trot?

I have gotten better at the sitting trot over the last few months, and am now pretty much balanced (sometimes I lose it for a few strides, but I wont 'bounce') I had also finally gotten my lower legs under control, but yesterday I rode a new lesson horse, who is very very 'forward' I.e. The slightest touch of my leg makes him go faster and faster and faster.

My issue is, I used to keep my legs quiet by steadying them against the side of the horse. This was ok with our lesson horses last year, since they were all SLOW, and needed a fair amount of kicking to even keep them in a trot. However, with this new horse I couldnt steady my leg against his side since to him that meant 'go faster'. I had a lot of trouble keeping my lower leg from flapping around without this 'anchor point' while sitting the trot. I tried to concentrate on pushing my heels down and putting my weight into my heel, but my leg would still move around.

What could I do to prevent this? The only thing that seemed to work was squeezing with my knee, but that is something I know is bad, and I didnt want to do it for fear of creating a bad habit. Would it help to shorten my stirrups a hole or two? (I take 'jumping' lessons, mostly flatwork for now since im a beginner, but my stirrups are already shorter than they used to be at my old dressage barn). Could the issue just be due to this horse having a much bouncier trot than the other horses I'm used to?

I would appreciate any help and/or tips you guys can give me!!
     
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    02-21-2013, 06:41 PM
  #2
Trained
The horse is probably bouncier and more so on the forehand with a tense back than others you are used to, going by your description. This does make it very hard to sit the trot - I do not sit on a horse's back until their back is already warm, swinging and carrying me, otherwise you will bounce, the horse will brace, you will bounce more and eventually give both you and the horse a bad back!

You need to learn to use your core to keep you in the saddle. It sounds like the horse isn't terribly well educated, there is a good forward off the leg, and there is a purely disrespectful or unbalanced 'forward' - it sounds like this new horse is the latter.
I always ride with my lower leg slightly on the horse, keeping the hind legs active and encouraging the horse to work up to the bridle. To hold the horse together with your leg on, you do need to effectively engage your core or you will end up with your problem, a horse that rushes off uncontrolled and you can't sit on it.
Imagine that someone is about to punch you in the stomach. You brace your core against the oncoming punch. That is the feel you want to have when the horse runs away from your leg. The hold of the core, plus a short sharp 'oi' rein aid if required, is what will stop the horse running off.
There's nothing wrong with keeping your lower leg on the horse, but it cannot be a constant 'squeezing' feeling. Engaging your core will help you stay in the saddle much more comfortably as well as controlling the horse.
     
    02-21-2013, 07:00 PM
  #3
Foal
Thank you for the advice! The horse is very heavy on the reins, and my trainer told me to 'squeeze' the reins every now and then so he has no constant pressure to hang into. The trainer told me he used to jump at Grand Prix level, but has been out in a field for a couple of years now, she just bought him and he has basically no muscles yet. He is a sweetheart though, and does slow down if you ask him to. I think you're right that he has no balance, due to the low muscle development maybe?

Staying in the saddle was not so much the problem, he was hard to sit, but by concentrating on relaxing my hips and engaging my core I found a comfortable seat to sit his trot in, problem was really only my lower legs flopping around (backwards and forwards) with each step. My trainer told me to keep my leg on him, but more forward, on top of the cinch, so I don't cue him to go faster. That worked ok, but I've only just started finding my balance with my leg further back (where it belongs!) and don't want to lose that progress, so I guess I was looking for alternatives :) I do have to say I much preferred this horse of the others I used to ride though! Its hard to keep my leg still, but its even harder on a horse you need to kick hard every two steps to keep going xD
     
    02-21-2013, 07:05 PM
  #4
Trained
If he's been out spelling for a couple of years and not brought back in slowly by an experienced rider, then yes I would say he is lacking muscle which will mean that he'll also lack some balance. If you are not a hugely experienced rider, then you will struggle to put a horse like that together, which is why he is running from your leg - a strong core will hold him together.
     
    02-21-2013, 07:10 PM
  #5
Foal
Nope, I'm not experienced at all! And will not be trying to put him together... don't even know what that means lol. I'm pretty much a beginner. I know my trainer is riding him too though, but since one of the lesson horses died and they sold another, we are kind of short on horses, so she uses him in the lessons. We don't do anything too exhausting though, mainly trotting in circles and over a few poles on the floor.

Thank you again! Glad to know its ok to keep my leg on, I was scared I had picked up a bad habit and thought maybe I was supposed to keep my leg off the horse but quiet, found that near impossible! Thanks again for clearing that up
     
    02-21-2013, 07:15 PM
  #6
Trained
Ahhh ok my brain is now into gear, if you're only a beginner it sounds like you're doing well!!

A horse that runs off the leg is tricky, so your instructor must feel that you're doing well in your riding to put you on a horse like that.

Yep its very hard to keep your leg completely off the horse - when you start trying to do that, you usually end up giving accidental aids with a bumping leg, which is going to say 'go forward' more than a gentle, steady feel of the leg down the horse's side.
     
    02-21-2013, 07:15 PM
  #7
Trained
Ahhh ok my brain is now into gear, if you're only a beginner it sounds like you're doing well!!

A horse that runs off the leg is tricky, so your instructor must feel that you're doing well in your riding to put you on a horse like that.

Yep its very hard to keep your leg completely off the horse - when you start trying to do that, you usually end up giving accidental aids with a bumping leg, which is going to say 'go forward' more than a gentle, steady feel of the leg down the horse's side.
     
    02-24-2013, 07:24 PM
  #8
Foal
I have the EXACT same problems as you. When we do sitting tot we do it without stirrups first so if you haven't tried that I really would, it's really odd at first but it helps so much with the knee squeezing thing (you just cross the stirrups over the front of the saddle so theyre out the way) . I'v got a good sitting trot apart from on my favourite horse at the stables who has a really bouncy trot, I feel like I'm fine for short periods of time but then I feel like i'm going to bop off the saddle. Is it a cob you ride by chance? I'v found a lot of cobs have very bouncy trots.
     
    02-26-2013, 01:10 PM
  #9
Foal
Hey, I just saw your reply katievit, Yes we ride a LOT without stirrups, which is the reason that I've gotten good at sitting the trot on the other lesson horses, but this new boy has the BOUNCIEST trot ever xD Its like you say, I'm ok for short periods of time and then I feel like I'm about to bounce off. He's not a cob, not sure what he is, but I'd say Silla Argentina (Warmblood). He has a severe lack of muscle though so maybe that's whats making his trot so bouncy. Hopefully itll get better in a month or so when he builds up some muscle, if not, I guess we'll all just get really good at sitting the trot lol!
     
    02-26-2013, 07:13 PM
  #10
Foal
We have a warmblood at our stable but I don't think his trots too bouncy, I wouldn't know for sure because I'v managed to avoid riding him as he has a bit of a temper and will always refuse to do what is asked and then kick out or buck if you use a stick on him, but then he'l be fine after his tantrum and do what you ask. I'm guessing not all warmbloods are like that. That's a very good point, I guess if we can do a good sitting trot on bouncy horses we'll be good.
     

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