Stirrup issue - definitely doing something wrong

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Stirrup issue - definitely doing something wrong

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    07-08-2010, 01:18 PM
Stirrup issue - definitely doing something wrong


My riding experience is only trot, posting trot, and canter on the lounge (very very insecure about this last one though)

I have however an issue with the stirrups.
I can do well the sitting trot without stirrups
I can do very well posting trot without stirrups too!

However with stirrups, everything goes to waste.

Sitting trot - I get bounced very hard and I find it impossible almost to keep the "deep seat" or "stay heavy in the saddle" as the local RI's say.

Posting trot: With stirrups, it's like they're always too short. I feel launching in the air and landing back instead of the forward-back motion that I achieve without stirrups. My feet twitch on the outside, heel goes up, ankles twist and generally I make a lot of effort and end up panting and exhausted as if I was carrying the horse and not the other way around.

I suspect this might have to do a bit with my appearance.I am 1.70m high, however my legs are longer than the usual leg length for a person of same height with me. I'm also very slim. (yes, I do eat, yes I am healthy. No worries)

We measure stirrups by using our arm length; it's supposed to be long enough if it reaches with 1 end your underarm and the other end your palm.
I was wondering, maybe there's another way to adjust stirrups because I was thinking this rule might not apply to my spider legs...

Also working without stirrups is supposed to be harder, then what am I doing wrong?
Everything feels easy and in harmony as long as I don't place my feet in them.
And with stirrups I loose all balance and I get tired so quick.
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    07-08-2010, 01:27 PM
When you are seated in the saddle, your stirrups should reach the ankles of your foot if you are doing jumping/two point, and they should reach a bit lower when you are doing flatwork, I believe.
Yep, for most people, riding without stirrups is harder! I'd try making your stirrups longer, and just keep riding without them often. That is supposed to be one of the best ways to get a good seat and correct leg position, so eventually you should feel like everything just falls into place, hopefully! Good luck.
    07-08-2010, 01:27 PM
Green Broke
Id say just keep riding with the stirrups. I know exactly how you feel, I rode barback for a very long time, so when with stirrups you are thrown off balance.try having your stirrups very long to start, then slowly work your way shorter and shorter. A way to help get that deep seat at the sitting, go side to side instead of foward to back. It really helps!

Hope this helps and good luck :)

    07-08-2010, 01:56 PM
Originally Posted by payette    
When you are seated in the saddle, your stirrups should reach the ankles of your foot if you are doing jumping/two point, and they should reach a bit lower when you are doing flatwork, I believe.
with leg perfectly stretched or slightly flexed?
And no jumping nop, just flatwork and trail riding - which includes trot + short canter sessions sometimes -
Because if I strech them, then stirrups could be too short indeed. But however, if I measure them using the "arm-long" method, they're fine.

Just so that you guys don't think I'm some spiderwoman anormality or something, here's few older pics. I (think) I am quite ordinary normally built.
Me and the infamous skinny sticks..i mean legs

Me and the infamous posting trot attemps :/ I didnt have any chaps either, excuse...well excuse everything about that picture, including its quality.

That's how my legs stand usually :(
    07-08-2010, 03:12 PM
Using your arm to measure stirrup length is a great tool to get a general idea of the length you need, but as we are all individuals in our shape and size, it is by no means set in stone. By all means try lengthening them. If it feels better and makes you more comfortable, then you will also gain the confidence to push ahead with your riding.
    07-08-2010, 03:36 PM
[QUOTE=inaclick;684733]with leg perfectly stretched or slightly flexed?

Just hanging relaxed. You do have some long legs! I'm jealous In the posting trot picture, it appears your stirrup is too far back on your foot. Perhaps you could try riding in two point position, letting your weight fall into your heels and your knees absorb the shock. That may help you find your stirrup "happy place". Good luck!
    07-08-2010, 03:56 PM
One thing that might be causing a big part of your problem is that you have your foot jammed all the way into the stirrup. It should be on the ball of your foot, that way you have the mobility in your foot and ankle to get your heel down.
    07-08-2010, 04:33 PM
Originally Posted by smrobs    
One thing that might be causing a big part of your problem is that you have your foot jammed all the way into the stirrup. It should be on the ball of your foot, that way you have the mobility in your foot and ankle to get your heel down.
Very true! And it also hurts so bad!
It's just that I start from a fairly correct position, then the bouncing begins. By the time I regain my position my feet are already shoved in the stirrups OR I have lost one or both of them.

I have tried leaning back a lot, as I do have a very ugly tendency to haunch - I guess this is the price to pay for working at a computer 9 hours per day.
This sometimes leads to an awkward feeling of "I think I'm running out of horse" and also me loosing stirrups or loosing rhythm and collapsing into a bouncy "sack of potatoes" sitting trot.

All these issues simply vanish if I am without stirrups. No more unbalance, no more haunch, no more panting.

To illustrate better my awful stirrup riding, I feel like I'm rowing a boat with my feet.
It's totally not the horse's fault. It is me. The mare from the picture, Fatima, has a very nice typical Arabian floating relaxed trot. I rode other horses too, other sizes, other types of trot. Same issue, so I guess it's me.

I will plead nicely to the trail instructor - or companion or whatever he is - to let my stirrups even longer. I'll let you guys know how it went and hopefully someone will take a piccie or 2 as well :)
    07-08-2010, 06:32 PM
If you're stirrups feel too short than they probably are. I also am 1.7m tall and have found that holding the stirrup under my arm doesn't work at all for me. I generally use the rule that payette mentioned as it's pretty much fool proof for us long leggies! Haha

Looking at the picture the immediate problem is that your foot is jammed through the stirrup which has been mentioned. If you look at the photo imagine that the stirrup is on the ball of your foot - your posture wouldn't be too bad at all! The stirrup does already look too short though even just a couple holes (it also might not appear that way until you focus on your knee which is quite bent almost like you're sitting in a chair. That'll be those long legs working their deceptive tricks to the eye! ). And once your leg is back it would create even more of a bend in your knee which can be eliminated by lowering them a touch.

I am working with a girl at the moment that is exactly the same as you. She is always losing her stirrups and especially in the canter goes hunched over. We have been doing a lot of work in the round yard to build her confidence because this posture stems from fear. When a human feels threatened we naturally curl up into a ball to protect ourselves. You are obviously uncomfortable with stirrups which (correct me if I'm wrong) probably makes you more nervous than you would normally be without them.

I would suggest getting your instructor to keep you on the lunge like he has been doing and try this:

Let the instructor have control of the horse's head. You let go of the reins completely. 95% of riders I see these days hang off their horses heads and mouths and use the reins for balance. In the picture you don't look like you're relying on her head at all but this exercise may still be beneficial for other reasons. You can still control your horses speed with your seat and legs and if she starts going too fast than your instructor has the control of her head to slow her down.

Now sit up nice and tall. You will find you feel much more unbalanced at first because your hands have nothing to do. But this exercise frees up your brain to focus on your legs and seat. If you need more balance hold your arms out. Remember to keep your back nice and straight (but still supple).

Start at the walk (also try halting your horse without use of the reins - interesting exercise ), then the trot and once you feel the need to roll forward has been diminished you can progress to the canter.

This exercise I find really helps to switch a rider's brain from reliance on the reins to reliance on your leg and seat which are equally as important. And after time you will find that your legs feel more natural.
    07-12-2010, 11:35 AM
It seems I was doing it all wrong completely.

One of the trainers from the shelter allowed me to ride a few times around the manege a horse (walk and trot)

He pointed out that my knee is nowhere near the saddle and it should be perfectly on it. My toes were out and my heels were in, whereas it's supposed to be the other way around!

I had no idea! And I'm quite sad because my ex-trainer had a lot of opportunities to tell me and ...I guess she did not find that important
So today I practiced the correct position and I have to say, even if we were just walking without stirrups, my thighs were trembling from all the effort. I guess it comes easier once I get the hang of it?

I watched a lot of pictures from the forum today...yes, everywhere the knees and the thigh are sticking to the saddle.
I'm just utterly confused and a bit sad now, because I do see this detail very important - I could feel my posture changing - and...i'm a bit baffled that nobody pointed it out to me before.

I also learned to climb in the saddle without stirrups today, which almost resulted in a major faceplant on the other side.

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