proper western posture
I've ridden in a "chair" seat my entire life, but o don't think that is correct. What is correct posture for western? if it makes a difference, I'll be doing endurance in an endurance saddle with a western seat. Pictures and details are much appreciated. I'm particularly interested in how the ear/hip/heel alignment should be
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I am copy-pasting this from another post 'cause its bed time and I am sure that you will receive very helpful responses in addition to this one! :) best of luck!!
"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."
ETA... fwiw, I know that some brands of western style endurance saddles tend to place the fenders forward, making a chair seat easier than a proper seat. I would check your saddle to make sure that isn't the case!
Proper posture will depend on the kind of riding you do. Personally, I try not to fight my saddles too much and usually just let my leg fall where it wants to.
For example, here I am in an older show saddle. This is a bad angle, but you can kind of see how my leg is under me.
And then here I am in a reining saddle, which has more forward-set fenders. Total chair-seat in this one, but reiners don't really care about position, anyways.
There isn't a "proper" place for western riding.
The original style looked like this:
A more typical style for today is shown here. Notice the emphasis on a flexible lower back and moving WITH the horse:
Notice where the weight is distributed in a western saddle:
A significant amount of the weight bearing area is BEHIND the cantle. That is very different from an English tree:
For my purposes, I've decided to let my posture be driven by the saddle. For any saddle I'm in, I want my rump in the lowest part of the seat, and I want the stirrup straps/fenders to hang straight down. If that puts my heels under my hip, fine. I'm not going to force the stirrups back. If that puts my heels forward, that is OK too. I will move my legs forward or back for brief times, depending on what I'm doing or about to do.
Shoulder / hip / heel alignment is meant for dressage and western pleasure, both of which mean highly trained horses riding in an arena and covering the ground slowly, with lots of collection. That isn't the same as endurance riding, roping, etc.
FWIW, the British Cavalry wanted the back of the heel to be 1 inch in front of the chest. That was pretty typical in the US Cavalry as well. But a lot depends on what type saddle you ride, and I don't see much sense in fighting your saddle.
Don't endurance riders spend most of the time at the trot and them standing in the stirrups? That's how the Mongols ride.
I've always been taught that balance on the horse is the most important thing in riding. That balance allows one to move in rhythm with the horse and the rider's balance is important to the horse. A balanced rider is easier for a horse to carry than an unbalanced rider.
That said, I've always been told that the most balanced position for a rider is to have the heels in line with the shoulders and the knees bent. It is such an effective position that in martial arts it is called "the horse position," meaning the horseback-riding position, according to a sensei.
It is also the position naturally assumed by any athlete playing ball and in a waiting position for action: baseball, basketball, volleyball, skiing, whatever. It's the most balanced position for the human body, while lowering the center of gravity for stability.
This is a matter of physics.
I am going to guess that the feet out front chair seat that a lot of western riders do harkens back to the seat used by cowboys who are doing a lot of sudden stops, like you'd do if you were dogging cattle. you'd be better off to have you feet out in front of you for that.
Also, if you are doing a lot of jumping, you're feet will be out in front of you. it's just that as you stand in the stirrup and lean forward, your center of gravity goes over your feet, even as your butt sticks out behind.
There are two picture of me in my horse pictures on Flint, look there
Even though I ride with slightly shorter stirrups than ideal for western.. here you can see the shoulder/hip/heel alignment.
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