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kimj 06-12-2011 12:25 PM

Boot size and posting trot frustrations
My main question is could my boots being a tad too big be the main cause of my trouble in keeping my heals down - but here's some history...

I'm an adult rider (37) and I just started riding at 35 taking lessons a couple of times a month or so due to no time, kids/work schedules, etc. so of course had next to no progress for the first year. Then, I gradually got up to riding regularly, 1-2 times a week (hour long lesson and 1 lease ride on my own), but my coach is a hunter/jumper and I've been riding around with kids in a group so I've spent many hours just trotting around (posting trot) without much more than heals down, sit up tall, check your diagonal, occasional canter, etc., so I decided to try somewhere else as well for more specific instruction. Now I'm also riding somewhere else 1 x a week for a half hour lesson but it's a dressage barn, though I keep hearing that I'm just learning 'basic English' right now, not dressage, and I'm having so much trouble there. My new instructor is very nice but quite young, but teaches lots of adults (though I think far more advanced adults than me), and I'm told I 'perch' too much and post from my toes - though I do keep my heels fairly well down despite that - and I'm not sure if it's because I've been taught that on purpose or just wasn't paid much attention to in regards to my position before. I'm not sure if my other coach has just been trying to be too nice to her only adult and let me just enjoy my new hobby. So anyway I'm already feeling rather silly for almost 3 years of lessons and still riding like this and don't know if I'm just not cut out for riding or I've just got bad habits that were never corrected or it's the jumper/dressage barn difference or what, but now I feel like I can't do anything right.

This new coach does give positive feedback on the rare occasion I get it right, so I know part of it is just me being frustrated with myself, especially since I ignorantly thought I was better than I am, but seriously if I can't ever get posting trot right I'm going to lose my mind! And I do want to stay at this barn I think as I know if I ever get past this phase, my riding will be so much better for it and I want to be an effective rider, and one who can ride all sorts of horses, not just one perfectly schooled one.

I should also note, however, that I'm not on a very well schooled horse at this new barn. He's super smart, only been at their facility a few months, and totally plays on my weakness/insecurities, is tough to keep going, resists turns, etc, etc, so he is not making it easy on me one bit either, so I'm constantly losing my position as I'm just not strong enough yet to deal with both at the same time. He's also got really big movement though with a super bouncy trot (coach says this, not just me), even though he's only 14.3. It drives me crazy though that after almot 3 years of lessons I'm not doing better with him though.

So anyway, that brings me to my question finally (sorry!). My new coach and I almost had an argument (!! and I'm really quiet so you know I was frustrated!!) the other day as she was insisting my feet were too far in the stirrups but I kept telling her they were on the balls of my feet and when she put them where she wanted them I felt like I was hanging on by my toes. She said my position is perfect (at halt LOL) with them positioned how she wants, but seriously that would be posting off my big toe - so then she said maybe my boots are too big (I use paddock boots with half chaps)?? I bought them after maybe one lesson and they are super comfy, but yes, my toes are swimming at the end (very wide round toe)... From what I remember, the size below my toes were touching the end so I thought that would be uncomfortable. I'm probably right in between sizes. Could that be affecting my position more than I realize? My thoughts are regardless of my boot size, my stirrup is still on the ball of my foot (even though she doesn't believe it) so my position would be the same anyway even with a smaller What do you think? I'm reluctant to shell out money for another pair of boots but if that will help I'll go to the tack shop now! LOL :wink:

Thanks for your thoughts. Sorry for the novel. I can get wordy! :wink:

Speed Racer 06-12-2011 12:30 PM

You're correct, the stirrup should rest on the ball of your foot, not your toes.

If your instructor is telling you to post off your toes, then they're not as good an instructor as they think they are. :wink:

If you've explained that your feet are where they're supposed to be and she's still insisting it's wrong, maybe it's time to look for another instructor.

kimj 06-12-2011 12:50 PM

Thanks for your reply, Speed Racer,

She's not saying to post off my toes, but she did say that maybe the boots being too big was causing an issue. The top horizontal seam on my boot, comparerd to where it should be normally I guess, is about an in inch farther forward than 'normal' so I'm sticking too much boot in the stirrup to position it properly on the ball of my foot. I think she's having a hard time believing I'd buy boots that much too big for me (though they feel fine to me but maybe I'm used to a looser fit).

jinxremoving 06-12-2011 08:44 PM

Do you try to learn outside of your lessons?

I mean pick up some books, the Pony Club Manuals are honestly great - even if they are aimed at little kids. Watch ample amounts of YouTube videos, it all helps compliment beginner lessons in my opinion. Watch other people ride if you can, and find horsey friends online that you can bombard with questions. :)

I had trouble posting on the correct diagonal when I first started, and I just couldn't process what my instructor was saying until I watched this video - it all made since once I watched it slowed down:

kitten_Val 06-12-2011 10:03 PM

I'd change instructor personally if you don't progress (or at least feel you don't). I was in your situation: couple years of lessons with different instructors and still like a sack of potato on my horse. Found my current instructor (dressage lady with lots of experience under her belt, lots of trailer-in lessons, also do judging and clinics) and we did a big progress in matter of months (BTW, the horse I used for lessons during winter while my mares were "on vacation" was NOT easy to ride either :wink: ).

No, I don't think boots has lots to do with it (although can somewhat affect). I just rode in my big old cowboy boots other day and my position was the same as when I ride in my usual "ring" boots. Also lots of students does NOT mean the instructor is good or will work out for you (in my experience).

CJ82Sky 06-12-2011 10:04 PM

agreed with speedracer. also check out sally swift's books - she is great.

kimj 06-12-2011 10:04 PM

Ya, I definitely have lots of books (most recent Centered Riding by Sally Swift), watch lots of videos, hang around at the barn, etc... to say I'm obessed would be an understatement. LOL

My issue isn't with posting itself really and I can do diagonals fine, it's just that my new coach is so picky (I know it's a good thing long-term) about the shoulder-hip-heel line while posting and my other coach really isn't, so I had no idea I wasn't in the proper position until going to this barn. We're talking very little amounts of difference between her correcting me and then saying 'yes, yes, that's it!' that I can barely tell that I've done anything different. So, I'm just making sure I have nothing going against me with the boot issue is all. She just was so perplexed with how much boot was going over the front that she said herself maybe my boots were causing the problem, so I thought I'd get the opinion here before going out and buying a new pair. Sorry, I seem to have rambled too long in my first post and not made myself clear.

Thanks! :)

kimj 06-12-2011 10:11 PM

Thanks kitten_val, just saw your post after I just posted the last one. So I'll make my husband happy and not spend the extra $$ on new boots... at least for this reason. LOL

I had no idea it would be so hard to find an instructor that you clicked with though. :( I really like both the ones I have now as in their personalities, but I imagine it's difficult to teach riding with so many different styles of learning. I don't do that well with just someone tell me what to do - obviously! - especially when I'm trying to concentrate on other things at the same time. Apparently not very good at multitasking! I need time to just practice over and over, but then I don't know if I'm practicing wrong...that's the hard part. Will definitely keep the fact that I may need to keep looking in mind though. Thanks!

kimj 06-12-2011 10:13 PM

LOL CJ82Sky, I posted at the same time you did about Sally Swift. Ya, great book. Now would it be rude to take the book to my lesson and ask to do some of those exercises?!! ;)

CJ82Sky 06-12-2011 10:18 PM

saddle time always helps - practicing between lessons often speeds up the process of learning and adjusting your position. the stronger you get the easier it will get too. you can follow the books (sally swift is amazing) and practice both what you do in your lessons as well as what you read.

finding an instructor can be hard, but if you find information in the books that resonates with you, talk to instructors and find one that teaches similar to what you are learning in the books - i.e. a centered riding trainer for example may be good for you. call lots of places, and take one lesson with any place that sounds like you may click with the trainer and go from there. i'm also a firm believer that riding with multiple trainers rounds out your education.

good luck!

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