Tips on the seat, posture etc, please (walk, jog, Western)
My daughter has been riding for about 40 minutes a week for the last two years--English the first year, and Western this last year. We really love this current barn, but she is not getting any feedback *at all* on her seat, hands, legs, posture etc. The only things that the trainer says, over and over, is "Get her into the bridle. Release." and variations of the above. Sometime she's told to lengthen or shorten the reins, to bend at the poll, to release slowly.
I'd appreciate any feedback on her seat etc. What I notice, that from time to time she is a mild chair seat. I wish her instructor pointed that out to her. What else she should be paying attention to? She really wants to have more focus on her body.
Is it normal not to focus on her body position? Is it acceptable for her to ask for this kind of feedback? Do trainers focus on the body more after the riders steer better?
The video is only of walk and trot, as they didn't lope today. I'll post her sitting trot and canter the next time I'm at the barn during her lesson.
IMO, the trainer is asking her to do things that seem a bit above her level. OR she is sacrificing good equitation to control the horse better. But the evidence points more to the former.
She does have a chair seat, but I think it's because her stirrups are too short to give her some added security. Really, 40 minutes a week isn't enough riding time to develop muscles for a good balanced seat. I recommend she rides more :)
I wish you would have kept the original audio so we could hear what was being said...
I am not an expert so take everything I say lightly.
That saddle is flapping around SO much.. I don't think it is a good fit at all (this is an FYI...)
As a rider, she seems balanced.. she isn't tense or tipping around. The slight chair seat likely comes from the position of the fenders... most are located slightly infront so you'd be working against the leather if you pulled your leg back into correct aligned position.
Her arms aren't rigid, she's not taking them with her. They look fine. Western doesn't ride with contact so there isn't a line from bit through to elbow.. the horse is reaching into the bridle but sometimes needs more leg which is likely why the trainer is saying "get him into the bridle."
Her toe is pointed down, which may mean that she is posting from her toes, instead of stretching her legs down around the horse and posting from the horse's forward momentum. When a horse jogs, usually the rider doesn't have enough momentum to post as high as she is.. if that makes sense. The jog is flatter than the trot (typically.) The flatter the gait, the less thrust.
Now to answer your actual question.... sometimes we need to learn to ride effectively before we learn to ride pretty.
Some people, like myself, did it backwards.. and thus have all of these bad habits from trying to be 'perfectly aligned' instead of getting the horse going how you want and then tweaking.
But it can be done the other way too. If you focus on body position first, then likely the rider won't develop bad habits as easily I suppose. It depends on your personal belief on how you want to learn. There are positives and negatives to each.
Now if the trainer isn't giving ANY feedback.. I'd talk with them and let them know that you would like to know what she can work on, etc.
Sometimes they don't give feedback because it can be overwhelming to the student, or it's just their teaching style.
Bottom line... if you don't like what you're paying for then say something or find someone else.
How tall is she? Depending on her height, the saddle & the horse, getting her legs down and around may not be an option.
Some western saddles determine your thigh position for you. Our Circle Y Mojave sticks my thighs into a weird position, and I either accept it or have painful knees...which is why I gave up using that saddle ages ago. My daughter, OTOH, won't use any other saddle...:?
BTW - western riding is not dressage. There is no requirement in western riding to have your heels under your hip.
Thank you so much for elaborating.
My daughter feels she's learned a lot in terms of being more effective, and in many ways is a more assertive rider now. As long as she is not getting *really* bad habits ingrained, I can see it working on the effectiveness first, and on "pretty" later as being a good approach.
Her goal is to be an effective rider, she says, but she misses the focus on her seat that the other barn provided. If she were to chose, though, she'd choose effective over pretty right fornow. Would be nice to have both types of feedback, but you are right, maybe it would be too overwhelming.
I'll ask the instructor at what point she normally starts giving equitation type feedback.
I just wanted to make sure she isn't terribly off track, and I really appreciate this forum for that.
Here's the video with the audio, for those who are interested. Some of the time the trainer is talking to another rider. I tried to cut it out and only leave the parts with my daughter's audio, but youtube editor wasn't cooperating.
She's "tall for her age", but I have no clue how tall she actually is. :lol: She's a couple of inches shorter than her trainer, and the trainer is short for an adult.
I just want to make sure she is not getting into some terrible habits in terms of using her body effectively, and that any obvious issues are corrected, either by the trainer, or by me via this forum. Though I try to stay out of it and not "teach" her, as I don't have a good horsey eye.
Your daughter seems like a very effective rider for her level. Her leg is nice and solid most of the time.
Looking forward to her next riding update!
"she misses the focus on her seat that the other barn provided"
I've been making the switch over from English/Australian saddles to a western saddle since Thanksgiving. Something that is increasingly obvious is that a western saddle tree allows more options in what is "correct" in a seat. The saddle tree extends further back and covers a much larger area, so the PSI of any rider action is reduced. The bad news is less feel of the horse by the rider. The good news is less feel of the rider by the horse.
Want to ride with your feet forward and your spine straight? Do that with Mia in an Aussie saddle, and she'll slow her trot to a light jog to save her back. Do that in a western saddle...and she did a fast trot for a mile home, then cantered around the arena.
The saddle my daughter uses locks your thigh at a particular angle. I dislike it. My daughter loves it. But she stays balanced on Trooper, and Trooper is happy, and the horse stays between her and the ground even when the cinch strap comes undone while cantering down a trail...so how 'wrong' is it?
I asked a question about western riding in this thread:
The answer was largely...it depends. If you look at western riders cutting cattle, roping, barrel racing, trail riding, performing western pleasure, etc, there are a LOT of valid 'seats'. Weight in stirrup or barely touching. Heels down or foot level. Heel under hip or heel out front. Contact with lower leg (impossible in some western saddles and a bit funky in any western saddle I've tried) or no contact with lower leg except for a cue.
When I was taking lessons, I asked my fellow students what the cues were to ask a horse to canter. I had read several books on dressage, and expected an answer about put this leg here, that leg there, make a circular motion with your inside hipbone, adjust the outside rein like so, etc...and instead, after everyone looked puzzled for a moment, one lady replied, "Kick harder?"
If a person want to do something specific - roping, or barrel racing - then western riders, like English, can discuss at length just how to get the job done or why they like to do X instead of Y, or y instead of z. If you go to the barrel racing sub-forum, for example, you can find detailed discussions about 18 different bits for different horses. But for general purpose riding, it seems to boil down to: Is he doing what you want? Are you happy? Is your horse happy? If you have 3 yeses...then enjoy!
My daughter and her horse, on one of the few shots where her feet were briefly in the stirrups...and with the cinch still attached ( :-) ):
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