I don't know what I need :)
I am going wayyyy out on a limb here and asking for... what, I don't know. I'm not sure how valuable the video will be, since the majority of my riding is far away. At the 2:30 mark, I do get closer. I'm sorry for the wind noises, so maybe turn your volume down. I think what I'm looking for is:
1- do you see any obvious signs of distress or lameness in Ruby as I'm riding her?
2- am I porportionally too big for her? I feel huge on her. She's about 15.2 hh. I'm 5"3 and 138 pounds. I have a large chest, which makes me look bigger than I am, especially when sitting, but I'm still not tiny. At all.
3- I have had a hard time with stopping. I know that it's me and not her- it's my lack of knowledge on using leg cues to get her to stop. She is so eager to please, but I feel like I'm confusing her and am pulling too harshly on her bit.
4- She has started putting her nose wayyyy down to the ground during rides. I'm not sure what that's about.
5- My hands get in the way (as you can see) with her reins. Are they too long?
6- I just want to be a better <western> rider. Any help? Suggestions? I know I suck right now, so I'm at your mercy to make riding more enjoyable for both of us. Thank you in advance. And please, be honest. I can take it. :)
I've had two trainers- one stole my car and the other lost her mind. I'm taking a break from trainers right now.
You aren't too big for her, and she doesn't appear lame (haven't gotten through the whole video yet)
She's putting her 'nose down' because she's stretching out. She's not yanking you down so it's not a bad habit.. but just make sure you push her forward instead of yanking her head up. If she starts dragging you down, you lift your hands up quickly and set them back where they were.
Your stopping isn't that bad :)
Gah! Do you have anything a bit more zoomed-in, or a few stills? It's hard to see much in the video! :)
Okay, I found a few close-ups in the video... I am no guru, but here's what I saw!
You're riding in a chair seat, which means instead of keeping your heels under you, they're out front and your seat is waaay back on the cantle. Try this: take your feet out of your stirrups, and (assuming your horse won't mind!) bring your knees up over the pommel/on either side of the horn. Feel the way that your butt is sitting in the saddle? You're kind of sitting on your seat pockets... keep that position and bring your legs back down (out of the stirrups). Feel the line from your shoulder, through your hip, down to your heel. You might have to lengthen your stirrups to fit this posture.
Another tip-- when you ride, think about lifting your chest (or sticking out your chest! haha). This will help you set your shoulders back instead of tipping them forward.
As for stopping: If you are having trouble sitting deep and asking for a stop with your seat, try taking a deep breath and letting it out in a big sigh--turn your whole lower body into jelly--and asking for that stop!
I am 5'1" and 138 and I ride a 15 hand horse. You two look lovely together. :)
I hope that this helps!
PS-- I am jealous of that giant, open arena!
ETA: I keep watching this video to help get a better perspective for ya... one last thing! It looks like you are riding in a curb bit (correct me if I am wrong!) with relatively short, closed reins. The idea with these kinds of bits is to ride with a long, loose rein and provide input to your horse with very subtle movements (as a result of the shank's leverage, meaning the pressure you apply is amplified in the horse's mouth). I might consider either switching to longer split reins with this bit, or going into a single or double-jointed snaffle (you can still neck-rein!) so you don't have to worry about applying so much pressure to your horse's mouth.
I agree with the above posters. You aren't doing as badly as you made it out to sound. you look sized well to that horse. She isn't lame.
She may, possible, be not liking that saddle fit, and thus kind of speeding up to run out from under it. However, I kind of think not.
The saddle does you no favors. the stirrup bars are too far forward, making it hard for you to sit in anything other than a chair. I suggest you drop your stirrups a couple of nothces, and to the excersize Expony suggested.
What I see happening is that she starts trotting and things go along ok, but pretty soon, she is going too fast for you to sit the trot well, and positioned as you are, it's hard for you to post that trot. You fall behind her motion, and maybe balance a tiny bit on her mouth, collapsing forward a bit, which only encourages horse to trot out faster. and you are worried about her speeding up.
She looks like she really has a nice , quick trot. can you let her trot out quickly for a bit? Could you still post the trot if you lowered the stirrups a notch and let her go forward a bit? Still circle her, but don't panic , make it a nice, big, even circle. breathe!!! breathe out, think slow and see if she'll slow down a bit to meet you.
I think you might try a snaffle bit for a bit, too.
WOW!! You guys have given some amazing advice!! Thank you for all of it!
I have used a snaffle bit with her for a year. She seemed to HATE it. The bit that I am using now is a short-shanked Pelham bit. This was the first time I've ridden her in a long while where she wasn't fighting the bit or throw her head. Should I continue with this bit, and adjust my hands/rein more, given that information, or should I go back to the snaffle?
I want very much to do poles and barrels with her and we are taking it slow and I'm learning as much as I can by watching at rodeos and you tube. I get comments all the time about the connection Ruby and I have. I can not explain how much I love this horse. She is absolutely my heart and soul.
I appreciate you guys so much. I will get some better (closer) video. I hope you will look at that one too. THANK YOU!!
is this a pelham with a solid mouthpiece with a low port? or a broken mouthpiece.? if it's a broken mouthpiece, I see no reason why she'd like it better than a regular snaffle because the action is pretty similar, except the pelham has some poll and curb action.
ride her in what ever bit works for her and you. you might try a double jointed snaffle, like a french link. she might like, might hate.
anyway, do post a better video when you can.
Which snaffle did you use before? There are MANY types of snaffle....
I can't explain the difference either- the bit part is the same as the snaffle I was using... I do know for SURE there was a difference. She wasn't pulling at the bit at all this time. I will video her in the regular snaffle and then in the pelham to see if maybe I've lost my mind LOL!
The one I started using yesterday was like this one:
I also bought, but have not used, a large twist sweet iron Snaffle with 3" cheeks and 5" mouth. It looks like this one:
Before I got her, she was shown in WP. For about 9 months after I bought her, all I did was occasional pleasure rides here and there, so the snaffle was fine, so I thought. I assumed that any and all unwanted behaviors were my fault, and of course, not hers. She is a well-mannered girl and is eager to please. I just want to do what's right and comfortable for her as we march into our new experiences together.
I do know that part (a LARGE part) of my problem is confidence. My first horse was drugged when I bought him. The first time I rode him at home, he threw me and tried to kill me- luckily I only broke 2 ribs. He was sold to me as a "kid friendly" horse. He went back the next day (very long story there...). I bought Ruby right away because I was afraid of being too scared to "get back on." I was VERY lucky that she was "the one" because I honestly had no idea what I was looking for. I want to go FAST on Ruby and she is more than willing, but I'm afraid of losing control, hence the search for the right bit. But more important than my confidence is her comfort. She has proven to me that she is a "take care of you" kind of horse. She's still a baby, but with every flick of her ear towards me, waiting for me to say "good girl," I know that she is tuned in to me. I have to remember that when I'm on her, though :) So, about the running- how do I get the confidence to hold on and let her go??
First (and I'm sure you'll hear a lot of this...), don't ever let the idea get into your head that your bit will give you more or less control or safety on a horse! That isn't any kind of real control, and not a relationship you seem to want with your sweet girl. :)
Here are a few notes that might apply to your bitting situation. Sometimes loose ring snaffles will pinch at the corners of the mouth as the ring rotates, causing discomfort. Additionally, with stronger force, snaffles are thought to have a "nutcracker" action against the palate that can be uncomfortable--some horses are very sensitive to palate pressure versus tongue, poll, etc pressure. Both of the issues can be alleviated with the use of a double-jointed ("french link") eggbutt snaffle-- here is the one I use Korsteel French Mouth Eggbutt Snaffle - Eggbutt Snaffles from SmartPak Equine. My horse loves this bit and will gladly play with it all day if I let him! I always recommend this bit to everyone I meet. When you apply pressure, the "dogbone" in the middle will apply pressure to the tongue instead of bending up to push on the palate; it is a very gentle and fair bit, I think!
For the love of goodnessgracious-- please don't use that twisted wire snaffle! :-( I'm sure that you can only imagine the kind of havoc it could wreak on a horse's mouth in the wrong situation!
As for learning to let go of that fear... something that a lot of people do in order to get used to going fast on a horse (learning to sit the canter safely and comfortably) is to have a trainer or experienced horseperson lunge them on horseback. This will give you the chance to feel what it is like to ride that kind of power and speed, but without the worry of "are my reins too tight/loose, am I in control, will the horse run away with me?" If you don't have someone available to lunge you, try cantering in a smaller place such as a round pen; I don't love fast work in a round pen, but right now I think the most important thing is to build on your confidence!
It's all mental. :) You literally have to tell yourself to sit back, give a soft but firm cue, and "throw" your hand forward (I put that in quotes because in reality, you aren't throwing your hand anywhere-- but you are resisting that urge to yank it back and bend over it in the fetal position!) and focus on relaxing your hips (...or as a 4H'er at my barn says... moving your hips like a belly dancer!). If you trust your horse not to do anything crazy, there is nothing wrong with not giving her direction but letting her canter big old circles/oblong ovals/triangles/whatever around the arena while you focus on breathing deep! When you need to pick her back up, she will notice it and then it is all a matter of timing and balance to make the downward transition from canter to trot, walk or stop a smooth and comfortable thing. And, once you start to feel comfortable riding a faster pace, you can start to incorporate leg and rein to direct your horse-- for example, feeling your horse lean into a turn and picking them back up by scooting their hindquarters back under them with your leg.
I hope that this helps! I think you are hearing lots of fantastic advice and that there's more to come! :-)
Edited to add... two things! Don't be afraid to use your hands on your saddle to make yourself feel comfortable. What I mean by this-- don't worry about how it looks if you have to reach down and hold your horn to keep yourself from bracing on your horse's mouth! And (once you feel comfortable enough to reach back), don't be afraid to reach back with one hand and grab the cantle to literally pull your butt into the saddle to ride a seemingly too-fast, too-scary canter that in reality is just a little more fast-paced than you know how to ride! You'll learn the confidence quickly, and the motion over time!
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