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QH Lover 12-26-2012 09:25 AM

Stirrup length & cantering
So I had gone to summer camp (not overnight, just 6 hours a day for a week) 2 summers in a row and had grown to like this farm and the horses. I decided to take a lesson, my first formal lesson there (I'd obviously had lessons at camp). So I got there we groomed him and tacked him up and took him out into the arena, and I got on and thought my stirrups were too short (At the time, I only had my older pony to ride and we NEVER rode with a saddle just a bareback pad stirrup less so I was obviously used to having a "long leg" :P) So I was just assuming that she was going to ask if I needed longer stirrups, but she asked me if I needed SHORTER stirrups. I guess I was too shy to ask them to be LONGER instead and just went with the length. When we were walking and posting I was doing fine but when she asked me to sit his trot I COULDN'T which was REALLY weird because he has a nice trot and my pony had to worst, bumpiest, most unbalanced trot ever and I could easily (well, after lotsss of practice) sit her trot. I was wondering why I couldn't seem to sit his trot and then I realized it was because of the stirrups! I couldn't get my legs around him at all! Then when we started cantering (I am only starting cantering) I felt so bad for Jack (my lesson horse) because I was bouncing so much and so hard but couldn't help it. So, do you think I should just ask for longer stirrups..? And while im here, any tips for cantering? I'm just starting and really want to get good at it (:

bsms 12-26-2012 10:20 AM

Here is my experience. Take it FWIW:

For sitting the trot, I had to overcome my tendency to brace against the stirrups. I ended up lengthening them a hole at a time until my feet barely touched them. That worked fine for trotting, and helped keep me on when my horse would twist or spin (spooky mare).

But the motion of a horse's back in the canter has a lot more power, and it simply threw my far enough out of the saddle that my feet would lose contact. That was in part because I couldn't get myself in synch with the horse's back, but I think it is also due to the amount of power going thru the horse's back at a canter.

I ended up doing a couple of things. First, I had to accept the idea of riding the canter more forward, in a half-seat (or my *******ized version of one). I simply couldn't learn the horse's motion without cantering, but I couldn't canter until I learned the horse's motion. Cantering in a half-seat allows me to A) get off to a good start so the horse is happy about cantering, and B) lets me settle back at my own pace, as we are cantering. That way I'm only doing it once I can feel the horse's canter, rather than guessing at it.

Second, I did need to shorten my stirrups, but only by about 1-1.5 inches. So if the stirrups are more than a couple inches shorter than you are used to, it isn't needed for cantering. If I shorten the stirrups much more than that, I still start to brace against them and then I bounce at ANY pace. From what you wrote, I'd ask for longer stirrups...

Here are my two favorite links on cantering. Much of it applies to sitting the trot as well:

countercanter 12-26-2012 09:03 PM

When you are flatting, your stirrups should hit just below your ankle bone. Most people will ride with them a hole shorter at the middle of their ankle bone which is fine too. You need to just think about sinking your weight down and wrapping yourself around the horse's barrel. A lit of people have the same problem when they are used to riding with longer stirrups, or in your case, no stirrups. Same can be said for people who ride too short and then have their stirrups set at the correct length.
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tinyliny 12-26-2012 09:36 PM

post a video of you riding and we can see what is going on.

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