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"Proper" Way to Ride in a Western Saddle

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  • Proper morgan horse western walk trot

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    04-25-2013, 08:13 PM
  #31
Green Broke
"doesn't mean they'd win a western horsemanship class."

From what I have seen of western horsemanship shows Id take that as a compliment. People get so hung up on proper,, proper says who ? OMG my elbow is in the wrong place and my left pinky is sticking slightly southeast. The worlds going to end !,, pulease, nothing wrong with some tips here and there, but take em and use em as they fit you and what you are doing, disregard the rest. I've seen the way people talk about riding on this page, usually using the word trainer in every other sentence, like they couldnt possibly imagine riding without being supervised, most of whom have never done anything but ride in a circle in an arena, I am sure someone would call that proper. Seems they get so hung up on things that just don't matter.
     
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    04-25-2013, 08:22 PM
  #32
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by deserthorsewoman    
^^^ that!
I used to know a guy with a beautiful, well trained Welsh cob gelding who asked me why his horse would literally run out from under him. He sat, leaning on the cantle, legs braced forward. I made him get out of the stirrups and point toes down, hard. All of the sudden horse slowed down and jogged and loped beautifully. He took his stirrups back and horse went bezerk. A true aha moment.
He told me later on he felt very insecure at first without his " crutches", but re-learned the proper seat and was fine.
Equally bad is the girl pressed into a " proper" dressage seat, stiff, insecure, but " pretty".

Saddles definitely contribute to a seat. I, for example, cannot ride in a saddle with build up and forward stirrups. I need a deep straight seat, high cantle and stirrups under me. I started out riding dressage, maybe that's why.
I agree.

If I look at pictures of me riding as a teenager, that would of been me braced on the cantle and feet shoved forward with my horse scooting out to the front. And I still resort to it when I get nervous. It's one that I have been battling since. That is why I envy those with a english or a background that included equitation, a hard habit to break! Being as I have recently took my first lesson with a dressage trainer I felt the difference that body position can make, it was awesome(even though I was in pain for days afterwards..LOL) And I agree the saddle can make the difference too, I have one that does shove my feet more forward and it is handy for long days and colts and my newest saddle is better for keeping my leg under me.
     
    04-25-2013, 08:33 PM
  #33
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by nvr2many    
If I sat like this............



I would be bouncing all over the place when sitting a trot. That's just me.
And you see, I have no issue sitting a trot. Its just how I balance. Heres an acutal shot of me sitting the trot (however, I much prefer posting)

     
    04-25-2013, 08:56 PM
  #34
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe4d    
"doesn't mean they'd win a western horsemanship class."

From what I have seen of western horsemanship shows Id take that as a compliment. People get so hung up on proper,, proper says who ? OMG my elbow is in the wrong place and my left pinky is sticking slightly southeast. The worlds going to end !,, pulease, nothing wrong with some tips here and there, but take em and use em as they fit you and what you are doing, disregard the rest. I've seen the way people talk about riding on this page, usually using the word trainer in every other sentence, like they couldnt possibly imagine riding without being supervised, most of whom have never done anything but ride in a circle in an arena, I am sure someone would call that proper. Seems they get so hung up on things that just don't matter.

If you watched that video you would be able to see how effectively that girl is riding. She gets an excellent, well tuned ride with virtually invisible cues, balance in her body, AND beautiful equitation position. There's a reason equitation exists. It shows the ideal position.

Of course, as you would have read in my first post if you read it all the way, effective isn't always pretty, and good position is relative to the activity. I sure as hell am not going to keep my proper position for my equitation class, whether it be western horsemanship or hunt seat, for something like a reining class or cow work that requires a little more aggressive riding, and surely not going to keep it for riding a barrel pattern.

I'm serious, I wanna talk about this.

Me before western horsemanship (Just warmup, but you get the idea)



In a reining class



Okay, okay, for giggles so you can all laugh at me, here's me showing dressage too.



And finally, running at a gymkhana.




Big difference in each one huh?

However, one thing is the same. I developed a good seat for riding colts from learning from the start how to have equitation. I took that and learned to adapt it to every situation. I learned how to make adjustments to each event from there, but I find that everything I knew came from my equitation position I already knew. You can really see this in my leg. It's in the same position in each shot. From which class I wonder? Western Horsemanship.

In an ideal world, everyone can ride with beautiful equitation on a well trained horse. However, it takes a LOT of work to get those equitation horses smooth and responsive to small cues, not making any big movements that might jar the rider, etc. Selena is NOT a good equitation horse because she is uncomfortable and is certainly not a slow western pleasure horse, however we have worked hard to get smooth transitions and invisible cue so I can fake it til I make it.

Also, it is virtually impossible to learn years and years of knowledge without a trainer. That's just the fact. Joe, you ride LD don't you? You probably don't need to be going to lessons twice a week for that. However, if you want to show in a reining pattern, run barrels, or jump over fences, you are going to need one to stay safe. End of story. Same with dressage. You simply will not figure out how to ride to the highest level you can without someone telling you to get your butt in the saddle and teaching you about how the horse's body moves, how each part of the body effects the rest, how you can achieve complete manipulation of the body through various cues and how to use all your aids at the same time to create a beautiful picture.

Conditioning for endurance or trail riding probably doesn't consist of counter arc circles, counter canter, flying lead changes, lots of collection and extension, piaffe, pirouette, spins, slide stops, tight turns with the horse PROPERLY (There's that word again) using their body. There's a lot more that goes into a western horsemanship jog than you realize, and a trainer is going to teach you all these things. They are more experienced than you.

If no one rode with a trainer, we'd probably never develop new methods, we'd probably still be getting on colts like the indians - stake 'em out and starve 'em for a few days and then bring em to the water and get on em in there so they're too tired and sick to buck. Or, alternatively, being the big bad cowboy who just got on a fresh colt and bucked it out, praying they didn't break their neck that day.

Quite a difference as to how we start colts now, huh? Wonder how we came up with that? It surely wasn't by no one helping others. Surely wasn't because no trainer ever helped any student.
     
    04-25-2013, 11:44 PM
  #35
Super Moderator
I think Cowchick's pictures show a very nicely aligned and balance, working seat. I would be thrilled to look so well balanced and so "useful".

And this:



Is a beautifully lined up seat, looks effortless and the horse goes easily under this rider.
     
    04-26-2013, 12:03 AM
  #36
Green Broke
My pennys worth... wanna learn how to balance on a horse .. get rid of the saddle get on bareback, walk trot canter stop turn. When you can sit yor horse without clamping on with your knees and legs.. you have learned how to balance and sit your horse. ;) I learned how to ride bareback and would even jump haybales and such.. sigh... wish I could do that now !! I still wanna know why the call it golden years.. cause all it is a pain .. the brain says yes and the bod says hee no...
nvr2many and DraftDreamer like this.
     
    04-26-2013, 12:27 AM
  #37
Started
I hadn't taken any lessons until recently. Owning two green horses, who have only had me ride them, I wanted to be sure I wasn't giving mixed signals with my cues.

At first, it was VERY strange and just waaaaaaaaay too much information and too complicated. I questioned if it was because I was taking lessons from an 'english' instructor when I ride 'western'.

I have now learned some valuable points, which no longer seem so foreign. I used to sit in the very exaggerated-looking recliner chair position....even bareback. I figured I was sitting on 'my pockets'. Plus I was scared that if I sat more up and forward that if my horse spooked, I would fall.

I can't believe how much better I ride now in a more proper position. I don't want to be perfect, I just want to be more correct for my horses. Even now, but less so than before, I feel like my feet are underneath me...but they are still forward. But I am way better than before. I found my seat bones and center. I feel more in control and that I can take on anything....well, almost...lol.

I think lessons were excellent for me to learn about helping my horse move. It took a little while though and a lot of being skeptical, but I am so much better now.
     
    04-26-2013, 10:56 AM
  #38
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by QHriderKE    
And you see, I have no issue sitting a trot. Its just how I balance. Heres an acutal shot of me sitting the trot (however, I much prefer posting)


Yes, thank you. I was going to ask if you sat the trot or posted. I seem to sit a trot better when I loosen my hips and sit heavier in my saddle. Maybe I need to video myself and see how I look, lol. I do not stick my feet way out in front of me or stand in my stirrups I just do not think I am that far forward. Hum, something to check out..... To me you look different in this one than the other. See how a pic can fool us............. a moment in time. LOL.
     
    04-26-2013, 11:31 AM
  #39
Started
Well, I am self taught so my sitting trot probably isnt proper.
In the other photo on the back horse, it was that fillys fifth ride, so I was putting more weight on my tushy incase there was an explosion! On the dun horse above, im rolled a bit more forward in the saddle and I have a bit more weight in my leg than seat, because if I sit all the way down, it translates to the horse as slow down or stop. My slightly more forward position and sitting the trot is allowing the horse to round up and push with her big hiney. That's how I ride greenies that need extra help from me to do stuff.
bsms and nvr2many like this.
     
    04-26-2013, 12:09 PM
  #40
Trained
When I want Mia to relax on a trail, my feet go forward. I'm not bracing in the stirrups, just relaxing and letting my hips move with her back. If I want her to go fast, I let my lower leg hang down vertical from the knee, lean forward and transfer most of my weight to my thighs. With my rump barely touching the saddle, she understands it as "Go faster". If I want her to make a tight turn, I settle deep, bring my heel under my hip and get out of the way of her shoulders. She's awkward enough without me asking her for a sharp turn with my legs forward! On average, my heels are further back than I like because that is how my saddle is built, and I see no value in fighting with my saddle.

One of the things that drew me to western riding was that most people I ran in to were happy to ride their horses, and happy to let you ride yours without any lectures. I think most do what I do now - look to see if your horse is relaxed and moving cheerfully forward. If so, then how you ride is your business.

The B&W photo I posted earlier is THE western style of riding from around the 1860s thru the 1950s or 60s. If you ever watch an old western, ignore the stars sometimes and watch the wranglers riding in the background, or some of the character parts. There were a number of bit players who grew up on ranches in the 20s, 30, and 40s who can be seen riding. They are usually easy to spot, because they are moving relaxed on a relaxed horse, even when going quickly off trail.

You can ride like that old cowboy photo and not sore your horse or even annoy your horse. You can also ride in a 'dressage' position in such a way as to make your horse hate you. Or not. My horses got a lot happier when I realized (thanks, Littauer) that riding wasn't about position, but about balance and moving with your horse for whatever it is you need at that moment. Some positions work better for some purposes, so adapt what you are doing in the saddle for what you want your horse to do under the saddle.
     

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