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SayiWont 07-25-2012 09:50 PM

Thinking English
I have been debating on switching to riding english with my new gelding. We are currently riding western, but it has become apparent that it is not really his thing. To be honest, he moves more like an english horse (floaty, smooth, and elegant) than a western one. I have also always been interested in competing in eventing. :wink:

A little background before the questions:
I have been riding for about 7-8 years now. The vast majority of my experience has been in the western world. However, I did take a couple english lessons and have ridden english a few times since then. When I took lessons before, I got to walking/trotting in the two-point position and began to post the trot. I never got to cantering or anything too complex. :lol:

Now the questions:
I have access to a couple of english saddles, one of which will fit my boy (hopefully). I won't be able to afford lessons for a few more months, so any english riding will be done at home doing what I feel comfortable doing. Keep that in mind when answering my questions. :-)

1) What exercises can I do while not riding that will help with my overall position?
2) What do I need to work on while riding until I can start taking lessons?
3) What should I look for when deciding on what barn to take lessons at?
4) Any other advice?

Thanks in advance for all replies.

tinyliny 07-25-2012 10:25 PM

Well, you can do "the horse", which is a karate position. YOu stand with your feet facing straight forward, a bit wider than shoulder width. Bend your knees, keep upper body vertical and abs engaged, head up. In karate you have your hands in fists at your side, but for you , you could hold them at your side but with forearm out in front as if holding the reins. elbows at sides. Stand this way for as long as your thighs can take it.

stand on a stair step facing backward. let your heels drop off the back of the step and let them go downward as far as the tendons will let you. Stretches them out.

practice the above Horse position, and windwheel your arms, but keep your torso facing forward. Work on shoulders back, no arch in lower back.

For a good lesson barn? I always look for horses that look healthy and don't seem too crabby about doing lessons. but it's been ages since I looked for lessons.

Good luck and post photos.

xxBarry Godden 08-01-2012 05:05 PM

1) What exercises can I do while not riding that will help with my overall position?
A: Go find a local Pilates instructor and try to do at least 2 sessions per week; You need to build up your stomach and lower back muscles. You need to stretch the hamstrings. You also need to do some balancing exercises on one foot to develop your balance.

2) What do I need to work on while riding until I can start taking lessons?
A: See if you can find an old fashioned typist's chair. Set it up in front of a mirror and sit for a few minutes or so in an upright position, with back straight, and head high. See how long you can hold the posture - without tensing up. Repeat the exercise often.

3) What should I look for when deciding on what barn to take lessons at?
A: 1/ That you feel comfortable and relaxed with the instructor.
2/ That they have a well schooled placid English style horse which has regular paces for you to ride and learn on.
3/ That they explain the program of the lesson before the lesson
4/ That the instructor debriefs you and discusses your performance after the lesson.
4) Any other advice?
Buy a book which shows the correct seating position for English.
Note for the first few lessons, ideally the lesson should be of two novices only and one instructor - who should be prepared to demonstrate from the saddle the correct seating posture.

The essential difference between Western and English is the way in which you sit and the way in which you hold the reins lightly in two hands with light contact thru the reins with the bit in the horse's mouth.

Everything rests on your seating position: you must sit upright yet relaxed. To ride well and stylishly you need the muscles to do so. For the initial lessons, the instructor tells you what to do, but the school master horse shows you how to do it. See if you can arrange for a friend to video you riding English so you can look and see yourself in the saddle after the lesson.
Don't forget the feet: 'Toes up, heels down. Balls of the feet, lightly resting on the stirrup bars'.
Body weight equally balanced in the saddle.

Relax (wiggle the toes and quietly sing) and enjoy.

PS Wear a riding hat.

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