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Gossalyn 09-18-2013 05:41 PM

a-ha! moments. suddenly it all makes sense.
Last week I had an "a ha!" moment - where something seemingly basic just CLICKED in my brain. These moments are always SO beneficial but I kick myself for not coming to these conclusions earlier.

I'm starting this thread in hopes that others can share their amazing revelations (however minor/major/or silly). So please let me know what yours are - maybe yours is the next one I'm about to have and you can help me get there!! :)

Last weeks realization went something like this:

There are times my stirrups don't seem even, or one is tight with my leg weight against it and one is ok, but not as 'in control' .. I'm not as heavy in it.

I used to think that it was because of slight un-evenness in the leathers, or how i was positioning my ankles or i don't really know - but i certainly didn't feel i had instant control over the problem.

Then last week I was cantering and i stopped the horse and said to my instructor "I'm sorry, I lost my stirrup. My foot is in it, but I don't have it." It felt like i had to point my toes to feel any weight on it.

And it dawned on me: The only way that is possible is I am clenching w/ my thighs. If I relaxed my upper leg, thereby lengthening my leg down, my foot would be tight against the stirrup. My LEGS are longer than the stirrups - so if I ever feel it's loose - not only is it my fault - but I can very simply correct it by consciously not clenching anywhere and lengthening my leg.

Not clenching/relaxing you upper leg can be hard at first because it's bouncy and if you don't have a good seat yet - you kind of use clenching as a crutch. But the next time I cantered and a stirrup felt a little loose - i thought "relax. Lengthen." and suddenly my foot was again in the stirrup & i had good control over my lower leg.

This realization also helped in my understanding of general balance on a horse. Your weight should be equally distributed in each stirrup.. so if you feel "even" but you weight is heavier in one stirrup - even though it feels good - you likely are slightly off. (This is a working theory - I am not an advanced rider so maybe someone who is can comment on the correctness of this theory!)

I hope this helps someone and I look forward to reading other people's break throughs and hopefully learning from them!

Skyseternalangel 09-18-2013 08:23 PM

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Way to go :) And you're right. Any tightness means your weight isn't down the inside of your leg and ending in your heel. It's above, which just causes you to pop out of the saddle or have your legs creep up and your position go awry.

:) What a great realization! So much different to experience it first hand than to just read about it, right?

Gossalyn 10-03-2013 02:35 PM

Ok not sure where to put this but adding onto my own thread! :)

Last night at my lesson I got to ride in a dressage saddle for the first time.
We've been passing it around our group and our instructor thought we should all try it & see how it feels - as it kind of forces our leg in a better position.

I must say, wow. my thighs were a lot more 'straight down' .. I almost felt like I was Kate Winslet balancing on the front of the Titanic with the middle of my body more forward. BUT - I think it just feels that way..... compared to where I was in a regular saddle.

In which case I'm also learning how I feel my body FEELS and how it ACTUALLY is... might be slightly off...

It definitely gave me some new perspective on leg position when I go back to my regular saddle.

I get now why they call it chair seat. We are all SITTING down on a horse. we should be standing on the horse! Sure there is a slight lean back from your knee, (equal to the slight bend back to your heel) but no more than you could do on the ground.

I don't think I would have realized this for a while, as i would have read that before and went 'yeah, i'm doing that'.. but then to feel it in that saddle..

my body was so determined to stay this way, that even when i two pointed, i would put my butt back further to allow my leg to stay forward and be balanced. darn you body for tricking me.

long road ahead...

boots 10-03-2013 11:47 PM

My two best ah-ha moments were 1) when I discovered the best timing (considering the horse's legs) to cue for a flying lead change, and 2) the best timing (again for the horse) for me to cue for a smooth stop. Those moves can make me look like a rock star on many horses, and it's just a matter of picking your timing.

But, right up there is the time I figured out how to use my lower body to swing up on the average horse bareback, and figuring out that I could balance on horses bareback without being tense.

Oooh, but maybe the most useful was when I got to where I could feel when a horse was getting ready to buck, rear, duck, or dodge and get them busy doing something else before they executed the move! That got me lots of ride time (and a bunch less walk time!)

tinyliny 10-03-2013 11:55 PM

great observations. W regard to two point; you kind of HAVE to put your butt out a bit behind, and leg out in front of you a little bit more than when you are sitting down in a dressage saddle. it's still keeping all the parts of you stacked over the stirrup bar, but since you butt goes more out behind, you upper body must come forward a bit to counter balance. It is also very much influenced by where the stirrup bar (where the stirrup hangs from ) is in relation to the lowest point of the saddle's seat. the dressage saddle puts them closer, to have a more vertically aligned seat, while the jump saddle has the stirrup bar further ahead, which requires you to lean more forward to stay balance over it. and not just distane, but the angle the stirrup hangs off the bar is a factor.

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