Critique me and my Rio please!
Please critique this video of my riding. I know I am doing a few things wrong- too stiff, arms too straight, legs too far forward. I want to be a better rider, so please point out any other problems you are noticing and give me your advice on how to fix it. This is my first horse and I have been riding for about a year.
Click here for the video:
The one thing I noticed is that your hands move...a LOT...and it looks like because of it, you're all over his face with the contact. One second there's no contact, then the next you've got a lot of contact, which is causing him to throw his head up when you do make contact (noticed it a lot on that first pass to the left you made where you're sitting the trot). I think loosening up your arms will help a lot with that. Also, bend your elbows. You almost look like a kid who is just learning to drive a car and is straight-arming the wheel in terror.
The other thing I see is that your hands are REALLY high. Your hands should be at hip level, like you have them on that first pass to the left. When you started posting going the other way, your hands are all of a sudden up around your belly button and then they're all over the place when you canter. It almost looks like you're using your reins, instead of your core, to keep your balance. I always use the pommel of my saddle as a reference point as to where my hands should be. I keep my hands just in front of the pommel (it's really easy on my Aussie because the upper end of my poleys is where my hands should be...on a Western, I keep my hands just to the inside of the outer part of the swells).
In the little bit of canter I saw you did a decent job of moving your hips and seat with your horse. Contrast that to your sitting trot where you were very bouncy. Try to remember to soften your lower back to absorb some of the energy (bounce) created by the trot. To accomplish this press your heels down, hands low and steady, lower leg pressed around the horse, knees soft.
Hands are indeed all over the place as Drafty pointed out.
Here is the thing, after 1 year of riding, if you are riding with incorrect habits (stiff, arms unsteady, etc) that are preventing you from sitting a trot comfortably, maintaining a steady canter, etc., then it is really time to consider getting a coach to help you address some of these issues. I know it can be a big investment but you will enjoy riding SO much more by just getting a few foundational skills under your belt.
The sooner you find someone to help you form good habits and re-train your muscles to help you balance correctly, the better off you'll be!
Good luck! Your horse is positively beautiful!
Thanks everyone. I have been taking weekly lessons for the past year. I think that maybe I am just getting sloppy out on my own. I hate the way I look riding in that video. I feel like a fricken idiot when I look at my poor position. Good point out about the hands. I think those reins are too short. I invested in a bitless bridle, hoping I could work on the problem with him tossing his head all over. Besides, id rather not ride with something in his mouth at all.
Why not share that video with your coach, see what your coach has to say about the video, and then ask for his/her thoughts on helping you address your concerns?
There is nothing wrong with a bit in his mouth - it's the rider's hands that need attention. A bitless isn't going to help a lot if you are still pulling on his face, using it for that problem is just masking the real one. How long are your reins?
I'm not sure, I don't have them with me to measure them. I was taught to let pressure off the horse's face to ask him to canter or anything like that, and now I am seeing that when I do that, I have to reach out so far forward.
On the contrary to that, I just feel like I have to constantly pull on his face to slow him down when trotting. He will speed up and it is super bumpy for me to even post. The reason I don't like the bit is that it seems like he is always pulling against it. Besides taking more lessons, I am not sure how to go about developing a better seat and leg cues that he will respond to so that I dont feel like I constantly have to pull on his face. I just feel like I have to work so hard at cueing him that I have compromised my proper riding posture. Any more hints, tips or corrections that anyone has are much appreciated.
So far the critiques have been right on. And I agree, the horse is cute.
You are struggling with how to handle all the movement the horse provides. We see good riders riding so very still on their horses and we think, "oh, it's so easy. All I have to do is sit still". Aux Contraire! YOu have to move. YOu have to move to sit still. And you may have to be using some muscle to move, too, not just be flopped around.
If you were to strap a manikin on the back of the horse, as the horse moved, the mannikin would be sloshed back and forth, and the more the horse moved, the more the mannakin would whip back and forth. In fact, it really is "whiplike", the way the motion of the horse moves through any thing that is on there body. The saddle would whip around, too, if it weren't so tightly held to the body, and it's center of gravity so very close the horse's cg. Since you are not "held" to the horse, you must create a kind of suction or connection of your seat to the saddle/horse. I dont' mean grip like a leach, because what happens if you do that is the the rest of the body becomes so loose that IT flops around.
Rather, by making your lower body move exactly WITH the saddle, you are creating adhesion. IN order for your pelvis to follow the saddle, it must be very loose and supple in the joints of the lower back and the hip . You have to really release your lower body to let it go with the horse.
At first, since you dont know how to "let" it follow, you must "make" it follow. Exaggerate the movement of you lower body for a bit and think of your seat bones as 6 inches INSIDE the body of the horse.
Once you can move with the horse with your lower body, you pay attention to the upper body. YOu need to sit up really straight, engage you core muscles and keep your elbows near the ribcage to disallow the upper body to flop. You basically "ride " your own pelvis, which is "riding" the saddle/horse.
The motion of the hrose is absorbed in your body, thus your hands can stay in the same place relative to the horse. You must have movement in the elbow in order to be able to do this. One thing that helps is to think of bringing your core toward your hands instead of the other way around, as the horse rythmicaly moves.
All this can best be worked on while NOT holding reins, so basically, a lunge line lesson. If I were your coach, I would have you do more than a few lunge line lessons, with no reins. Just focussing on moveing with your horse. Once you get this, you pick up the reins. ONce your seat is stronger, you will be able to hold the reins quieter and your horse, who seems like a very kind and tolerant fellow, will be so much happier to not have you bopping on his back and mouth. I bet he'll not be rushing out in the trot and will just be a lot nicer to ride.
Your place in the journey of learning to ride is not so different from many, many people who learn to ride. Some NEVER learn to move with the horse, so kudos for you for wanting more and better.
Hey, the longe line lesson is a good idea! I have done a bit of that, but I can see that it will help to do it some more.
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