Balance issues -XC. HELP!!
Well i'm getting into eventing with my horse, and I am having balance issues, especially in XC. Its wierd because i've always had the nickname 'Miss Stickabilty' when riding problem horses, yet in the past couple of months i feel like my balance is deterioating, and i feel like if my horse is to stop, spook or do a huge jump i'd go flying.
This is especially evident in XC, where i feel as if i'm 'perched' on my horse while i am in two-point. I feel less confidence in my abiltys now and losing some of my gutsiness.
I have a very 'gun-ho' horse when it comes to XC, and he is always a real handful, but it never used to worry me, but now i feel like my balance is even worse when he is playing up (not scary, just incredibly frustrating!).
Also I am having issues with keeping my heels DOWN, and STILL. This is also wierd because i used to have excellent heels! It seems that i have picked up some strange habits from somewhere.
Does anybody know of any excersies which i can do to help improve my balance, and encourage me to keep my heels DOWN?
Thanks in advanced :-)
Go back to your basics. If you feel perched and your heels are coming up, you're probably gripping with your knee. It's winter, you can always go back to working slow without stirrups to get your confidence back.
Do you only ride outside when you ride XC? I found that I had to spend most of the time working "dressage" outside in the field till I felt comfortable being on anything not flat.
I agree with MudPaint. I also wonder about your age, I know none of my business. But if you are between 10 and 25 your body is constantly changing and you will be have to constantly re-learn your balance. I know it sucks. It's just kind of a "girl thing." I went through a very hard time with it myself.
Best thing for me was trotting up and down hills, then progressing to canter. Go from a small hill to a steeper hill!
Thanks guys :) I'm 15 - and i live in NZ so its summer and middle of the season! Yeah I think i'll work on my hillwork, and my instructor said that a good way to secure your lower leg is by riding in 2 point heaps :)
When you're up in 2 point: make sure you aren't standing "up" in the irons, but rather bending at the hip. If that doesn't make sense, I might be able to find some pictures ;)
Also, you can bridge your reins if you have space to gallop for a while between fences. That always helps me, especially towards the end of courses when my legs start getting tired.
The first thing to accomplish, is proper weight in your heels. Without your heels doing their job, you will feel like you are just "perched" ontop of your horse.
You have to rethink your approach on this though, instead of thinking "heels down" think, "weight in heels". That way, you wont end up forcing the situation, when instead, you will allow it to naturally occur.
In order for your weight to disperse into your heels naturally, you have to allow your bodies weight to flow from your head, into your seat, into your lower leg and finally into your heels. For this to occur, you cannot grip, pinch or tense up in your body, especially your knees. The moment you block that weight flow from occurring, your heels cannot do their job, which is anchor you into your tack. Your heels must be allowed to act as your bodies anchors.
You have to think of yourself as being wrapped around your horse, not just ontop of your horse. Open up your knees, and feel that weight flowing down. It doesn't matter if your heels are at a 90 degree angle, or a 40 degree angle - regardless, just so long as they are acting as your bodies anchors.
Another important factor, is to ensure that your feet are in your irons correctly, to allow your lower leg to be functional. The base of the iron should be at the ball of your toes, where the outer bar is at the tip of your pinky toe, and the inner bar is placed at the ball of your big toe.
That way, your ankles can relax and flex and move like hinges.
Once you have obtained a functional ankle and heels, you can then focus on where your calf is placed on your horses side. Again, you are wrapped around your horse - opening up your knees, sinking into your heels and ensure that your calf placement is correct - you don't want to have contact on your horses side with the back of your calf, nor do you want to use the direct inside of your calf....find your "Sweet Spot" - where your toe angle isn't out like "Charlie Chaplin" and you don't want your toes pointing directly forward.
THEN...lol, you want your lower leg under you. You want to be balanced over your feet - then, and only then, can you achieve a solid, functional two point position :)
Every upstride your horse makes at the canter, your lower leg is asking your horses back to come up into your seat. "Come up to me".
When moving into your two point, for cross country, firstly and most important, is being balanced over your feet. Of course, lower leg doing its job as explained already above - then getting your seat slightly out of your saddle. Enough where you can get a hand underneath. Tall Upper Body, acting as though you are lifting your heart up. Tuck your seat under you slightly, enough to straiten your lower back, and activate that core. Without your core working, you will not have that solid foundation to remain structurally solid.
When you achieve a solid and functional two point position, where all your body parts are put together properly like a puzzle - you can then achieve a balanced canter, forward canter, coffin canter, hand gallop. You will beable to chase your horse out infront of you and instantly bring them back under you - all using your core and body.
I hope that helps some :)
ESPECIALLY MIEventer - that is great information, I have printed it out and will practice practice practice!
Lucinda green has some great videos really recommend watching them:
seriously they are so good and will help you heaps - she has a great way of explaining things
remember too, that you dont exactly want your heel to be 'still.' it should be down, but not as far down as you can force it. your ankle needs to be absorbing shock with every stride and on the landing after a jump. if your heel is all the way down it wont be able to do that.
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