I have been riding for six months. I take lessons twice a week on a different "lesson horse". I own this tobiano mare, Princess. I bought her about two months ago. She is green yet (I think that she was originally trained "Western". I have posted this picture to ask for advice with the hope of improving my riding ability.
Are my hands and legs positioned properly?
What could I be doing differently to help her "drop her head" more?
Does it appear that her hind end is "engaged"?
Any advice would be wonderful!
you obviously have a natural talent for riding, because your eq is really good for only riding 6 months!! your back is soft, you are looking where you are going, your heels are down, and there is a slight bend in your elbow. that said, the main problem i find with this picture is there seems to be a lot of tension. take a breath!! that will help her relax and consequently lower her head.
it does not appear her hind end is very engaged. i can see this because she is not tracking up very much ("tracking up" is when the horses hind legs step under themselves, as weird as that sounds... think of it as if you are looking at their hoof prints, when horses track up their hind hoof prints should be close to/ on their front hoof prints. given the horse's conformation will contribute to how much the horse is able to track up.)
some quick fixes for your eq- raise your hands slightly so they are off your horse's withers, but just barely, and hold your hands as if you are holding a tray with them- keep your thumbs on top and even. also, it looks as tho you can sink into your heel a bit more, and bring your leg forward just a fraction.
once again considering you have been riding for such a short time you look AMAZING! keep taking lessons and you will be awesome before you know it :)
You look great for being that new a rider! Kudos for buying a green horse :0
above responder is correct your hands need to be higher and relax your upper body more so that your upper body is less detached to what your arms are doing. Your legs could be forward more but looks like you are riding a new pessoa ? and those make your legs slide back at least they did that with me. To get her to drop her head you need to engage her hind end more and your reins are pretty short for allowing her this kind of movement (dropping head) she needs a longer reins to drop it for some horses this is the problem and your rein is pretty short. You can collect her after she gets her head lower but first allow her the space to do it with rein and more hind end engagement thenslowly collect her with lots of leg to prevent her from slowing down and losing her hind end movement.
Thank you both for your informative replies! I am always impressed by an experienced eye and appreciate your time!
Upper Body Tension:
Guilty as charged. I do have upper body tension. (Mainly because I suffered a violent fall off of this mare a month ago, at a canter.) The mental recovery appears to take longer than the physical one, in this case. When I ride, I have to think about breathing quite a bit. This is something I can fix and it helps when I ride with others. We distract each other with conversation. lol
Horse Tracking and Softening Poll (collection)
I have spent a great deal of time asking people to explain this to me. I have ridden other schooling horses that do drop at the poll, have good collection and engage their hind. I was able to make one horse do this for a short period of time. It required so much calf pressure, I collapsed into the saddle from exhaustion! =) I will try to lift my hands and utilize the "carry the tray" position (thumbs on top). Lastly, I will slide leg forward and apply more pressure, as suggested with calves.
I just found this site and it was helpful. I also found a really helpful image on another post that helps me see the difference between heavy front end and hind quarter "engagement".
Now, when I look at the photo that I linked to my original post, I see how my horse is heavy on the front end and light in the hind!
(Yes, the saddle is a Pessoa, btw! My jaw dropped when I saw that you could just tell from the photograph!! Good eye! Good eye!) lol I do love the saddle. Very comfortable.
Lower Leg Positioning
I purposely set my lower leg where you observed it in the photo. I normally have a "straighter" leg. I made an effort to bend more at the knee because my instructor asked me to. I will play around with adjusting it and have more pictures taken to see which is best.
Deepening my Seat
It was mentioned that I "deepen my seat". I admit that I have been told to do this in the past. I am unsure the action I should take to achieve this. What would you suggest?
Thank you again! I will work on these items over the next few days and have my daughter or friend photograph me. If you would be willing to stop back, I will post the new pictures soon! :)
The hands are too high and too far forward with not enough bend in the elbow. The rein too short. The hands need to close a bit more.
I think at this point you're best to begin to do some studying of the masters and learn about equine biomechanics. I see that you've found one site.
Looking forward to updates!
Back for more!
Ok, Here are the photos that were taken today.
In this photo, I was focusing on relaxing my upper body, working hard to continue applying steady pressure with my calves and tried to bend at the elbow more. I did play around with rein length. I would let it out but then realized how this would effect my ability to angle her nose into a turn. Her head did go down but would pop back up.
Should I open my shoulders more here? Or should I be sitting up even straighter?
My horse sped up and slowed down quite a bit. This made me off balance and then I made her off balance! lol Not good.
When she lowered her neck and head I noticed that her back end would seem to get springy and go faster... is that what I am looking for?
I was told today that we were trotting kinda slow. Would I get better results if I was going faster?
In this photo, I can see how she is heavy in front. I am also leaning forward, my hands are low and my upper body is tense again. Also my shoulders are closed! My goodness, I want someone to photograph me every time I ride, this is so helpful! lol
Please let me know what you think of the photos and suggest further strategies.
I will continue to take more pics and post them.
As fast as you are learning, I am unsure whether you should be asking the horse for collection at this stage. It took me many years and mistakes to fully understand the concept. You are doing exceptionally well for only riding for six months, far better than I was, but you should read about the training scale outlined above first. I have nothing against you trying, I think it's fantastic that you are attempting this.
You said that your horse puts her head down and then pops it back up. Are you releasing the pressure on her mouth once she puts her head down?? Because she is green, she may not know what collection is and that means that you have to teach her.
I like the fact that you are pointing out your own flaws. That is a hard thing to do! I think possibly you could sit up a little straighter in the saddle when you trot. Your leaning forward could be putting the horse off balance, which could be why your horse is a little heavy in front.
I'm sorry for being a little pessimistic in this post, please don't let it stop you from trying or anything like that. It is excellent that you are focussing on the way the horse is going as well as your riding. You are doing very well, keep us updated about your progress!
The first thing on the training scale is rhythm, which we already know you do not have because of the variation in speed you were getting.
Going to go on a bit of a tangent here. A related tangent, nonetheless.
Before you even begin to worry about what the horse looks like, you need to be confirmed in your equitation and learn about effectiveness of the aids and develop a feel. No one just thought that equitation was a great idea and looks nice on the horse and is an afterthought. Equitation is essential to correct riding and if the rider is not balanced and positioned properly, the horse will almost never be able to do his job properly. Just based on what I'm hearing from you and looking at your pictures - your coach is teaching strange things. You are perched, you are tense and holding your position instead of moving as one with the horse and you've been riding for 6 months and are already concerned about collection. A rider should not hear that word until they can sit on the horse and move with all of its gaits as one and be able to tell someone on the ground where exactly all the footfalls of the horse are. You cannot simply "collect" a horse by bumping it a certain way. It is a circle of aids which requires thought, feel and a large depth and breadth of understanding of equine bio-mechanics and riding itself.
Personally? I recommend you find a coach in your area whom will put you on a lunge line without reins and stirrups. Before you do anything else on a horse, you need an independent seat and to be able to move with the horse as one.
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