So I Switched...
from western to english! I would love a critique on both myself and my mare. I barrel raced before (well, hence the name "BarrelBunny") and she was mainly a kids/trail horse. She was my first horse and I have been with her for 8 years now. Really, she doesn't know much - everything that she does know I taught her (I was 9.. lol). I did teach her the pattern at the beginning of the year, but we only went to one race. Anyhoo, on with the pictures. I have been working really hard on my EQ this past week or so. These pictures are in chronological order - I'll include the dates. I feel like my biggest problem is that when I post I want to tense my upper body, so I lean forward, especially when we add speed. Oh, and you can't forget those super low hands.. *headdesk*
April 20 - just to show you what we started with... lol
June 12 - this is the picture that started the whole thing. I was very annoyed with how I looked and how it felt.
June 13 - started playing with my stirrup length because I felt like they were so short; was thinking that it would help me relax.
June 18 - Too long! Felt like my feet came a little too far forward, but it did help me relax.
June 20 - Definitely more relaxed, but then I let my arms/hands and shoulders get away from me.
June 21 - I feel like I was tensing again.. This was yesterday; critique please!
Oh, and just for fun, haha. The picture on the left was from April, The one on the right was two weeks ago.
Don't be so critical of yourself! I think that you're doing a great job and I quite like your mare!
Here's what I notice.
- Your saddle could be scooted back a few inches. The "nail" (the buttons on either side of the pommel) of the saddle should be a few inches or "three fingers" behind the horse's point of shoulder.
- I'm impressed that you maintain a nice long, aligned leg in that jumping saddle! It's easy to slip forward into a chair seat in that kind of saddle. If you have another English saddle available to you (AP, dressage), it might be more comfortable to switch to one of those. Just make sure that when you're keeping your position, you're using your calves to hold your leg in place and not your knees.
- Try to bring your seatbones a little more underneath you by tucking your pelvis.
Do you have any video? I want to say something about your mare, but I'm not sure what! Someone more experienced might have to weigh in. My first reaction is that I love her relaxation, her stretch and her topline, but it's hard to tell if the horse just has a flat/roached back or not. Either way, she looks like a pleasure to ride!
I don't know how she responds to contact--sometimes she is behind the vertical, and I'm not sure if she is avoiding the bit or just looking for your hands. Here is my first instinct. I'd like to see you take a little more contact on her mouth. Shorten your reins, ride with your elbows a little more into your sides so there's a hint more angle between your forearm and your upper arm. Sit back and drive with your legs, think about pushing your seatbones down under you. Every time your mare dips her head down or tucks her nose back behind the vertical, push her forward and the simple action of using her hindquarters will bring her head back up.
Anyway, you two look lovely together and I wish you the best. Hopefully others can weigh in!
The biggest thing that stands out to me is the arch in your back. As existentialpony pointed out, tuck your pelvis in a little and straighten your back. That should help with that tense feeling, and will save your back too.
When she's standing still, take your feet out of the stirrups close your eyes. Now sit with your back straight and settle your butt into the deepest part of the saddle. Let your legs hang where they feel right - the saddle design will dictate this to quite an extent. Your irons should be hitting right about at your anklebone - give or take an inch. Now when to take back your stirrups, be sure to keep your butt deep and your back straight and get used to the feeling of that position. That will help you stay more upright when posting as well.
I love Barrelbunny. Pretty girl. She looks so athletic.
Thank y'all so much!
existentialpony - This is the only saddle I have. I was told that it is an AP..? I'm looking into getting a different one eventually, but for now I have to put up with this one. It's my "starter saddle." :wink: I will definitely scoot it back a bit! As for me, what do you mean by "tuck my pelvis?" The only thing I can think of is "sitting" for a barrel turn, but I'm pretty sure that's not it. We've both been western our whole lives, so all of this is new to us. She does hold contact, but is not super consistent with it yet; she's still thinking I pick up on the bit, she gives. I'm thinking that will be something that will come with time?
I do have videos, but unfortunately I can't upload them. :-( Would love to, though! I can't wait to start taking lessons again!
freia - Thank you! I will definitely try that. I think my biggest problem is I don't know how it feels yet and I don't have anyone around who knows how it looks to tell me whether I have it right or not. It does help that I can come here for feedback, but it's still not the same. Oh, and her name is actually Sissy. :-)
Western ----> English is a sucky transition lol. So many crappy habits to break. I have a thread here about it too.Theres a lot of good advice there, and I bet we have some of the same issues!
Haha yes it is! That's alright though, I'm loving the challenge! Definitely subbing! :-)
Ok, sorry for the quality, but here's a screen shot from tonight! I was completely focused on myself, wasn't asking her for anything other than a nice, even trot. (To her, that means SLOW, haha) I wasn't too worried about it though, just trying to see what felt right versus what looks right. If I got it right, tomorrow I will be more worried about her. So.. comments, suggestions, tips, flying monkeys? :lol:
You look great! Elbows could be a little further back, but I can see that you're riding with a giving hand and that is the reason they've inched forward. I don't see a problem with it-- you have a nice line from elbow to hand to bit. I like your contact and how she's accepting it! You can already see how her poll is just about the highest point. Push her into that tomorrow and see how it goes! :)
As for "tucking" your pelvis, you've already done it here! Ride Western in an English saddle--you've tucked your bum under you to sit more on your pants pockets (and therefore your seatbones). Most people who switch to English (me included!) tend to overexaggerate this cutesy pinup posture at first where they stick their butt out and arch their back (haha). Similar to sitting deep around a barrel, you will use your seat to get your horse working off of his hind end in English. Just make sure that when you sit like this, you use your calves to keep your leg from slipping forward.
loved Existenial ponie's critique! she knows her stuff.
and this one, a little less well lined up (for dressage), but still good.
take this photo , put girl in dressage saddle, add some nice breeches , helmet and gloves, and whoopee! it's a dressage girl~! the alignment screams "do dressage!".
I don't have any critique because you have already received some awesome from the knowledge people above, but I just wanted to say how much you have improved from the first few photos to your more recent - excellent job :)
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