Help not to fall off! lol!
I've had a lot of time in the saddle and have done a fair amount of dressage lessons, so I have a decent level of riding skill I think :-) but....
Went out for a ride the other day and we were moving along at some speed when my horse noticed a different colour patch on the ground and jumped totally sidewards to avoid it. Anyway, I carried on going straight and managed to lose both my stirrups...how I managed to get back upright and cling on I'll never know lol :shock:
I fell off a previous horse I was exercising a few times when he fell out through his shoulder and turned round... I didn't go with him :-(.
So I was wondering, how can I improve my ability to go with a horse when it suddenly decides to change direction?! I thought maybe it might be a lower leg weakness or maybe a bit of back stiffness as I have a daughter with additional needs who needs a lot of carrying! Is there any exercises you guys can suggest?
Sorry about your bad experience! I'm not sure there are any exercises really. The key thing to sit through the spook (or buck) is to have a good balance. Try to sit straight, relaxed, and with your hills down, even when you are on a trail.
I also try to keep eye on strange things (as one of my horses is on spooky side), although it's not always very successful. :)
Do you have any video or photos of your position? It's just going to be random speculation for us to say keep your heels down or you're not sitting balanced or you're pinching with the knees or your stirrups are too long, etc. It could be anything really, although it's safe to assume it's probably at least one of those things that's contributing to you feeling unsteady when the horse spooks.
I'm sure a lot of people won't agree but in my opinion a properly balanced rider should be able to sit most spooks at the walk, trot or canter without becoming unseated or losing their stirrups. Of course there are exceptions to that... but for the average run of the mill spook, it should be a non-issue to the rider.
Just be thankful your horse doesn't do the spinning spooks topped off with an attempt to bolt at the end. Nothing gets my heart racing more than that, especially on an OTTB I occasionally ride. <sighs>
I think any exercise or workout that strengthens you will help in those situations. And increasing strength will help. I'm tempted to say to focus on the core (trunk) and leg musculature, but why leave out the arms?
I think maybe it will help to ride without stirrups and reins, on lounge. U will strengthen your body and leg muscles and learn better balance. Also riding without saddle helps a lot. Personal experience.
Get an Aussie-style saddle.
Thanks everyone, bsms, what is an aussie style saddle? I agree with you that I should be able to sit spooks jinxremoving, I will try and get some riding pics. My instructor and I did some work a while back as I was putting more of my weight in my left stirrup and not quite sitting straight, spent time on the lunge etc as you suggested shanoona. Chances are I've not fully corrected it yet so I will follow your advice and try some more lunging without stirrups!
That along with trying to generally improve strength and hopefully I'll stop eating dirt if something "scary" comes along!! :)
An Aussie-style saddle:
I bought one when I hurt my back and could barely get on a horse. Within a week, the mare I was riding spooked, did a 180, jumped an invisible fence, then did another 180. I had a big bruise on my left thigh (she spun left both times), but I was still on her. The poley (Mickey Mouse ear) had slammed into my thigh, spinning me around with the horse.
When everything goes right, they feel like an English saddle. But when the horse hits the fan, they help a lot. I was also riding in one about 6 months after the first incident when my gelding (bottom horse) got scared and decided he needed to dump me at all costs. Lost my stirrups, but with help from a grab strap I stayed on. He isn't much of a bucker, but he sure spins a lot.
My back injury still hurts regularly 3.5 years later. My riding has improved a lot since then, and my horses no longer spin around at the first sign of trouble, but I still like the saddle. It feels like my Bates AP saddle but it has more rings to tie stuff to for trail rides.
As a Japanese Instructor Pilot in F-4s used to tell students, "You no have will to cheat, you no have will to win!" :lol:
I even rode without stirrups on trails etc (one of the stirrup leathers broke....) for two months, and the difference?? HUGE. I was falling quite regularly off the horse, and after this two months (when I couldnt even walk after ride, true :D ) I have fallen like 4 times (it has been like two years). You learn to catch with your legs quickly and react more quickly on your horse movements. But If your horse bucks a lot outside, maybe the lounge, or even regular lesson without stirrups or without addle at all would be better. I also had to prolong my leathers after this two months for 2 or three holes. I couldnt stay in this short after that :D
I have found that in part, it's just luck. For example, if the horse spooks at exactly the moment when you are just rising from the trot, you are more likely to be knocked off by a sudden stop/spin. Especailly if the horse is a good stopper, like a cowpony type. But, since that has happended to me many times, I do realize that better balance is the only real "cure". Sitting up straight, not leaning too much forward, and keeping heels down and leg sunk down/long.
Some falling off is just par for the course, in my opinion.
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