Leg Swinging Back?
So, I have a problem with my leg position, which basically puts me in the opposite of a chair seat. Both legs swing back, at the knee and the hip. The right leg is worse (I assume it's weaker than the left...?), and it's worse tracking left. This ends up causing me to ask for canter when I'm trying to just get a trot. I make sure I let the horse go a few strides before I return to the walk and try again, so as not to confuse him, because I know that it's my mistake and not his. But after awhile we both tend to get frustrated and he breaks into a weird in-between, crow hop gait.
The problem is that the incorrect leg position feels normal to me. When my instructor says my legs are better, I feel like I'm in a chair seat. My stirrups are at the correct length, with the ends hitting just under my ankle with my legs relaxed. Also, one of the A/P Wintec saddles makes it worse, but it's not all the saddle because the dressage saddle doesn't fix it either. It slightly improves, but the majority of the problem is obviously an issue with me.
It's almost like my hips are too supple. My instructor makes a habit of pointing it out to me pretty often, just so I'm aware that I'm doing it. It doesn't seem to be getting better, though. So... Any suggestions?
It's possible the saddle is putting you in the wrong position. If that's the case, you can correct your legs all day and they will just revert to where they hang naturally. Do you have any pics of you in that saddle? Also, if you pull your legs completely up and off the saddle, do you stay put or tip forward or backward?
No, I unfortunately don't have any pictures. It's worst in the Wintec A/P, but I've tried multiple saddles and I always have the problem to some extent. I've been in several widths and seat sizes of A/P, flatter close-contact types, and dressage. My instructor even had me switch saddles right in the middle of a lesson the other day because we really wanted to rule that out. I mean, I guess it's possible that multiple saddles do the same thing to me...? I just figured that I also have to be part of the problem.
I'm not sure about tipping either way if I pull my legs off, though. I'll have to try that Saturday and see.
Yeah, taking your legs off will tell you if you're truly sitting properly with your butt and seat bones.
You may be riding with your stirrups too long and end up kind of "fishing " for them with toes down and heels up. to have your feet too far back would mean that you are riding too much on your pubic bone. This happens when stirrups too long and /or when saddle is too high in back. That can mean that the saddle is too wide for the horse's back and is lower in front than is should be.
That is why we need a photo of the saddle on the horse (without you) from the side and from the front, and photo of you on the hrose. And better yet, video!!!
Easier to correct this than a chair seat, in my opinion.
A picture would be useful, however I know that many "cheap" saddles (ie wintecs) are built like that, to put the rider in that position.
You may want to just go to a tack shop and sit in some saddles. I'd recommend Anky and Albion to start.
You may also want to start doing yoga or stretches to get your inner thighs to stretch and loosen, think about bringing your knee off the saddle while maintaining a straight forward pointing toe and putting your heels down. Also focus on really sitting up tall with a flat back, draw your belly button toward your spine to engage the core, while keeping your chest proud and shoulders back and down.
Thanks everyone! I understand that pictures would be very helpful, but since I don't own the horse I'm riding, it's not really possible. I can say that the barn had all the horses fitted for saddles within the past couple of months, so I would like to assume that it's sitting correctly.
The fact that all the saddles are somewhat lower-end could be part of the problem, I suppose. Riding more on my pubic bone than seat bones sounds like a good bet, also. I think I have a tendancy to do that due to a stint with some bad hunter-type instruction previously (they basically told me to roll my pelvis and sit keeled forward...ugh). I'll really have to think about sitting back (tall) and on my seat bones to see if it gets better. At least I have some ideas now :)
I'm with MyBoyPuck (and Tinyliny) on this one...not that we need pics, yeah, that would be helpful, but maybe this is a saddle problem. My new lesson horse is 100% horrible in terms of saddle fit. He's a big WB with very high, very narrow withers...and there is only one saddle in the entire barn's inventory that will sort of fit him...and it doesn't fit *me* worth a darn. If I make myself comfy in that saddle, my legs are totally in the wrong position. Not that I'm off balance, but my legs are NOT in the right position. I can't remember which direction they're off (too far back/too far forward) but I do know that if I'm comfy, it means that I can NOT lay a leg on my guy to cue him for a bloody thing. I can't lay a leg on to trot, I can't lay a leg on to bend him, nothing.
I also know that in order to fix this problem, I have to close my hip angle up WAY more than I ought to, and basically lean forward over the pommel (this is supposed to be hunt seat, but forget that, I have to lean way the heck forward even for a hunt position...dressage seat would be totally out of the question).
So yeah, if it's a problem for the saddle fit (on you, not on the horse) then you might need to carry your weight in a strange place. (The issue I have with my lesson horse is enough of a hassle that I've actually considered offering to go in with the owner on a professionally-fitted saddle that will fit me too...even though I do not want to buy this horse.)
First, try shortening your stirrups a hole or two. ESPECIALLY if you are tending to sit on the pubic bone. I had this problem many years ago when I rode with an in structor who insisted I ride with a too-long stirrup. I have several lousy photos from that era to prove it. Perched on the crotch, chronically tipping forward, legs swung behind me.
Shortening the stirrups two holes cured that.
Next, look up exercises to strengthen your hip flexors. Once I got my basic stirrup length problem fixed, I realized my asymmetry was due to weak hip flexors -- especially on the right side. Strong hip flexors are the beginning of a strong core and good posture.
I was wondering about my hips being too loose/weak. That's a good thought. And serafina, my instructor also gets on me about not being totally upright when posting, which sounds like what you were saying about compensating for an ill-fitting saddle.
But anyway, it was a bit better today! I really focused extra on my seat, and when I tested by pulling my legs off, I didn't move an inch. It will probably continue to be an issue to some extent, but I feel better about it now.
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