How to minimize centrifugal force in sharp turns
I noticed that I am not doing too good in sharper turns as well as in narrow circles at higher speeds: seems like I tend to lean outside the turn which makes me (and probably my horse as well) feel unstable. The odd thing is that trying to oppose that force and slightly switching my weight to inside, I do not feel much better. There's no problem up to medium speed of trot or canter, but if I do any faster, I start to feel unstable in circles of about 15-20 meters diameter. Any advice how to minimize that centrifugal force that is trying to throw you to the outside? As far as I have figured out, it has something to do with seat or weight aids. Is it so, and if yes, how it works?
I admit I am not familiar with the higher western speeds but with my current horse, who flies in the plain old canter, I sit deep and keep my shoulders up and back..our standard right now is 20M circles.
The trick here is balancing the horse. If the horse isn't balanced he/she tends to drop the inside shoulder which makes that unbalanced feeling feel even worse. You have to work on picking up the inside shoulder. With my horse I hold the outside rein contact and push him into the outside hand with my inside leg. My outside leg is positioned just at the girth to keep him from popping his outside hip as I bend him to the inside.
Truthfully, I've never felt off balance even in small circles, unless the horse was dropping their shoulder into the turn. That can make you feel like you are falling to the inside and you feel like you need to lean toward the outside to compensate (which actually throws the horse's balance off more and makes the problem worse). Are you sure that your horse is staying up and balanced in the tighter turns or is he/she blundering around on the front end?
A little something you might try is to pick your inside rein straight up and apply a bit more leg to encourage them to pick that inside shoulder up. Though, if your horse hasn't been trained to pick up that way, it may not do any good.
I personally have never felt off balance. And i barrel race and do speed events. I have a quiet seat and move freely with the horse. My mom isnt quite so lucky. She bounces and has a more difficult time in the saddle. Shes better when she rides frequently but she doesnt! Ive helped her get back in the saddle so to speak... I tell her she needs to relax. She says she is, but its obvious shes moving against the horse as opposed to with him.
The best advice i can give is to keep your lower body relaxed and loose. Move with your horse, not against him and sit centered in the saddle. Relax! Wet noodle hips and thighs. Heels down.
And ride as much as you can!!! The more you ride, the better youll become!
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I have respect for anyone who can sit out those tight barrel turns. While I can ride out pretty much any case of horsey tantrum, once a tight turn is involved, I kiss the dirt every time. Quarter horses can dump me like no other breed!
To answer your question, I would think anchoring the inside leg would be the way to go, but as the above paragraph suggests, it doesn't work particularly well for me.
Thanks everyone for the advice. I did not suspect my seat to be the problem, or the main problem anyway, since my seat is reasonably quiet in the saddle. Actually I have noticed this issue only with one of my horses - 5 year old gelding and not with the other horses. He actually does have this tendency to drop inside shoulder (the left considerably more than the right) and to try to step inside. I sometimes have quite a task to keep him straight with my inside leg. I must admit that I never made connection between this and my balance problems in tight turns. I should check it out. Thanks again!
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