Fixing a "Chair Seat"?
The Chair Seat, it's a huge huge pet peeve of mine and unfortunately a student of mine has been riding with one for years it seems. Her previous instructors have mentioned it to her but never worked to correct it, but now she's willing (ok ok it took some nagging on my part, but she wants to show so it's got to go!).
The big issue here is she is so so stable when riding with this position. I've tried exercises without stirrups and asking her to stretch her legs down, rotate her hips to have less of an "on the seat pockets" angle, even tried the silly idea of putting the stirrups down a hole or two, since she really likes short stirrups, in hopes she'd sink weight into her heels to keep the stirrups on (loss of stirrups is a huge problem no matter the stirrup length) but it didn't work. It's pretty clear she's tense through the knee and pinches with the knee no matter what we are doing as well. She does all this bareback too!
What have you guys heard about correcting such an ingrained habit? What tricks have worked for you? I've been looking into stretches, doing warm-ups thinking about equitation at the walk and once that's better moving up to trot...I'm running out of ideas, and I hate to admit it :(
Watching a person who rode like that (same as me) fall off. since they pinched with their knee which when they got slightly top heavy their knee acted as a pivot and they fell over the horses neck. After watching that I decided dirt isn't in my diet, so better change it.
This may sound mean, but let her show in that form and let her get marked off for it and it may mean alot more for her to fix it if she wants the good ribbons/ trophies/ prizes.
Is it possible that the student in question's saddle has something to do with this? Do they ride chair seated no matter what saddle, what horse? Becuase the angle a saddle sits on the horse's back and the balance of the saddle itself, in particular where the stirup bars are on the tree, will do a lot to force a person into a chair seat in certain circumstances.
Have you ridden in her saddle?
Ok so first order of business is to try out a different saddle.
If the saddle swich doesn't change the position... I looked on yahoo answers and a few people gave some recommendations on what to do. If you haven't looked there you might could see if any of their reccomendations would help.
Some were lounging so the rider could really focus on their position.
It may also help to give a visual aid to have in mind where she should position herself. (a yard/meter stick inline with shoulder, hip, and heels) so she can feel what correct feels like and it may change the muscle memory.
Another person said that sometimes it is a result of poor muscle strength in back and/or legs. To strengthen calves (if they are part of the problem) standing on a stair and putting weight in heels. To strengthen hips you could try walking a step and while foot is in the air rotate leg out to side. Do this slowly for maybe two times each leg for the fist few times and if that helps slowly build up.
Once again if the saddle switch doesn't help (hopefully it will) it may just be a matter if constantly having her aware of it then she will begin to absent mindedly change it until it's consistent to have proper form.
Don't know if this will help and it will require that the stirrups be at the proper length. My favorite trainer had me stand straight up in the stirrups with the balls of my feet on the irons so that my heels were down. Then I was to collapse straight down into the saddle. This put me in the correct position, shoulder/hip/heels in a straight line. If I lost this position, she would have me stand at whatever gait for a few strides then collapse back down into the saddle again. Sometimes I would have to ride for several laps before she had me sit back down in the saddle. It was really hard for me since I had really bad form, but I finally got it.
She also had me ride with only one foot in a stirrup for a while. Then she would have me switch feet. This helped me learn to balance my body and not depend on the stirrup for support.
My trainer's tip was to imagine riding with my weight on the pinky toe sides of my feet, rather than my big toes. The reason she has me think about that is that I tend to stiffen up and grip with my knees, not opening my hip angle enough. Might help to try it out...it helped me to sink my weight out and down in my heels and as I stopped gripping with my knees my mare started moving more freely and more forward with less leg pressure :)
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Having a saddle that fits the rider is immensely important. If the saddle does not aid the rider to be in the correct position, then it needs to go.
I agree with Tiny - I would look at the saddle. Your saddle is supposed to aid you, not hinder you.
^^ yeah and THIS! I for one cannot fit into close contact saddles because of the way my legs are long from hip to knee but short from knee to ankle. The only way I can reach anywhere near the knee pads is to chair sit because the flaps are too forward to accomodate my body shape. And I have tried every frickin saddle out there, ask MIE! ;)
That's why I had to get a sort of "combo" saddle (Eventing saddle) - the seat is slightly deeper and the flaps are straighter.
here's an example of one I tried but couldn't fit without chair sitting:
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