So I have a question for those of you who are more experienced riders than myself. How important is proper seat position, using leg cues and "proper" riding?
I ask this because,
Yesterday I rode a fabulous $20,000 jumping/dressage mare, who has competed in barrel racing, cross county and cattle sorting. She is a Hano/Percheron cross and I personally don't like the way she looks or rides. She is not dead broke, very headstrong at times, and tries to push through the bit. She is owned by a trainer at a very nice stable near my home. I rode this mare for about 2 hours through some trails. We did w/t/c and I did ride in a western saddle since my english saddle is far too narrow for her. But I did ride her in her regular bit/bridle.
Now what I didn't like about her, was that she is SO well trained. The slightest movement of my legs and she sped up, or the smallest move of my body, she would move with. I know most people like having a well trained horse like that for competing, but is it needed for someone who just trail rides?
My mare is an 8 year old OTTB and every bit of trail riding that she has done, is because of me. She was broke to ride, but knew nothing when it came to normal riding, so I taught her what she knows. She doesn't know who to collect herself(I don't think) and she doesn't turn on a dime, but she is perfect for me. She is very forgiving if I'm off balance or bouncing around bareback. She whoas and does everything I need her to do. She really impressed me yesterday when she took an 8 year old beginner rider on the trails yesterday. The little girl rode in a western saddle but no stirrups and granted she did have a gag bit on, she listened perfectly. the little girl bounced around and was pretty rough on her mouth, but my OTTB just kept on going, it's like she knew exactly what she was suppose to do and what she couldn't even attempt.
So my question is, I feel completely comfortable and confident riding my girl in english or western or bareback, I have only fallen off of her once, but that was my own stupidity for riding sideways lol. Now my back is never straight or shoulders back, my hands probably aren't terribly quiet(I'm always doing something), I know my legs aren't in the right position, but my heel is down :-)
So how important is all of the "proper" riding?
Proper riding is important. I don't care if your EQ isn't perfect but I think it's foolish to say 'well I do just fine so it isn't super important'. Quiet hands, a quiet seat, can save your horse from lots of aches and pains in the future, a proper position can save your butt if you get yourself into a sticky situation. Again, not perfect, but 'proper'.
proper position means moving with the horse as it is moving, and allowing your body to not brace against or go against the horse's movement. proper jumping position is obviously going to look different than somebody's position on a reining horse, for example. different horse movements, different rider position to aid in the horse making that movement.
the reason we are taught 'proper riding posture' is because this posture helps the horse move underneath us properly, and we don't impede it's movement when we are sitting properly for what the horse is doing.
as alexis mentioned, our position also helps us in those sticky situations. if you are already seated wonky, when something wonky happens, things can and will get wonkier! lol
We just trail ride, I sit how it feels comfortable. I can't stand up straight with my shoulders back to save my life, and it feels awkward to do so on in my saddle. I feel like my horse and I move together, not just me on top of her. I rarely use stirrups and just like to go with the flow. I watch my boyfriend ride, and he tends to have his feet far too forward, but he's comfortable and has no wish in changing.
If we were to sit correctly, I think we would both have to retrain our horses. I think they both just know what we are asking because we've ridden them so much.
Are your horses happy? Do they move freely? Are you happy? Yes answers are good.
Do your horses toss their heads around? Do they act grumpy, or have stiff backs? Are you like a sack of potatoes, pounding into their loins? Yes answers are bad.
Beyond that, there are lots of styles of riding. Some want shoulder - hip - heel in a vertical line, and some do not. You can ride forward, or on your pockets. Some ride with contact and others ride with slack reins. I think my signature line is right about 'proper' riding position...
Proper riding position are very important. Leg cues, it depends on you and your horse. Proper riding I would say is also important.
I use leg cues sometimes - I would like to use them more, but since I never really used them often and my horse isn't familiar with them, I need to train my horse to respond to them - so far he has been doing OK.
if you are getting along with the way you have things, and your horse does what you ask, then why worry about it.? you might enjoy learning the proper form, just for its' own sake, or to see if it affects your riding, but if it doesnt matter to you now, and it obviously doesn't, then why worry about it?
if you want to barrel race, or do dressage, then it's a different answer.
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