I ride in a fairly short stirrup. I've always been taught that the shorter your stirrup the more balanced you will be in your seat. Brings your center of balance to your seat more. Im trying a new horse right now and im working on getting more speed out of him while working cows. The man who owns the horse told me to lower my stirrups because im unable to really turn my ankle and make contact with my spur with my stirrups so short.
What is every ones thought on stirrup length in a western saddle?
Ill attach a pic of me sitting on a horse so you can see how short I ride...it actually looks pretty funny to me but its comfortable and its just what im used to I guess.
I ride with longer stirrups because it helped me develop my seat. When I rode with short stirrups, I relied on lifting my weight up in the stirrups to avoid learning balance. But that could have just been my problem.
Current leg position:
Old time cowboy:
An LS day herder watching the cattle in a valley. LS Ranch, Texas, 1907
Website here...hundreds of pictures from the early 1900s:
You seem to be riding with a more English length stirrup. What you say is more appropriate for the English disciplines than western, IMO. When I ride western, I have a much longer stirrup. I don't want to be too "Up and out" of that saddle.
I agree that they are too short. I tend to ride a bit long if anything. Riding western your stirrups should be short enough to keep them but long enough you aren't relying on them. I was tortured as a kid and had to ride with raw eggs under the balls of my feet in my stirrups and not break them.
Riding with them short takes away your ability to truly balance and find your seat.
Here's an (awful - when I was much heavier) pic when I first started Woodstock. I ride youngsters a bit shorter than my others but it's an example of length. woodstock2.jpg
I think your stirrups are too short, as others have said.
I used to ride short too so I know the feeling. Then one day my trainer yanked me off, lowered them three holes, and I felt like I'd had my entire world destroyed
Yet I found my seat drastically improved. I used to suck at riding bareback because I relied on my stirrups. Now I can ride a reining pattern completely bareback, where I couldn't go faster than a walk before. And my stirrups aren't even all that long, but they fit me great. Generally I measure by about four fingers between my butt and the saddle when I stand up in my stirrups.
Whoever told you that the higher the stirrup the more you have to learn to balance is incorrect. Take bareback riding for instance. Your legs are as long and low as they get, and it takes tremendous amounts of balance and skill to be able to sit that correctly.
Bringing your stirrups up makes you rely more on your legs than your seat, which is not a correct way or riding. I've always been taught to keep your butt firmly in the saddle, settled right on the back pockets of your jeans, while leaving your legs long and flexible anywhere below the thigh. This way you can use leg aids properly. If you're resting all of your weight on your feet, as soon as you go to kick or squeeze, your whole balance will be thrown off.
I adjust my sturrups to about an inch higher than where the balls of my feet lay when I'm sitting in the saddle, legs stretched out as long as they get. This gives me no false security, and forces me to maintain good contact with the saddle at ALL times. I must rely on my pelvic muscles to post, and on my core to absorb the horse's movement when cantering, not my feet. My feet maintain a light but firm contact with the stirrup so that they don't slide out, but I do not use them to balance myself. This way, I am free to send signal to my horse through my thigh and calves (a good working horse will not need a kick more than once or twice every so often.)
This second picture is about as high as I ever put my stirrups, and this was only because my jeans were a bit snug... XD any higher than this and my balance is completely changed.
I would suggest moving your stirrups down two or three notches, or even removing them completely in order to work on your coordination and balance. To work cattle you must be able to synchronize yourself with your horse, and absorb anything that they throw at you while maintaining a balanced, composed seat with loose legs that are able to send any direction needed.
Our trainer actually took our stirrups off for our first eight lessons in cutting cattle. And it did a world of good in my opinion.
I agree with the others that your stirrups are too short. For western pleasure I usually make mine lower. But when I do Gymkhana I tend to put them up a notch. Well sometimes.. it really just depends.
^ This is my friend and it's kind of hard to see but this is what my legs look like when I ride in a western pleasure show. I was taught that you should see one STRAIGHT line when you look at your leg. Its kind of hard to explain xD
^ This was my stirrup length when I did a day of Gymkhana. (excuse that I look like a man. No makeup + french braid = manliness..) My knee looks kind of weird. But maybe this is just because I was slouching.
You just kind of look like you should be riding in an english saddle instead of a western one.. (With your legs like that)
Keep in mind that im not being judged on my form when riding. Growing up (before I started riding cutters) I was in 4H and my mom always made me ride with a longer stirrup and I was supposed to draw a line from my shoulder to my hip to my heel and be sitting more on my crotch than my pockets of my jeans.
Now I ride cutting horses and am getting into penning. If you take a look at some of the best cutting horse trainers...look how short their stirrups are...
We aren't trying to judge you, simply letting you know that what you heard was incorrect, and that to establish a good seat, you must be able to rely on your core for balance rather than your legs.
You should be sitting on your crotch, but your butt should be maintaining a contact with the saddle as well, which is where 'pockets of your jeans' comes in to play. There's about a 6" space on the horse's back where you will find balance and be able to ride correctly, and to be in that space, the best way is to be sitting right where the hem of your pockets will touch the saddle. Anywhere above the beginning of your zipper is too far forewards, anywhere past the hem of the pocket it too far back.
With your legs pushed up under you in what my trainer calls the 'duck squat,' you're forced further up towards your zipper, and your pelvis will tip forewards.
As for the trainers, I really don't find that to have any relivance. Just because you turn out good horses and you're well known doesn't make you a good rider, or an ideal for other people to copy. Take Linda Parelli for example. Plenty of people follow her, copy what she does, say 'oh well she does this...' but I honestly think that her riding is garbage. Now I'm sure she's fixed a few horses, she's obviously got a lot of money and quite a pull in the equine world, but that doesnt make her any better of a rider than my trainer.
In that first picture, I actually think that his stirrups aren't as high as they appear. With the horse in that position, the perspective is messed with. They look fine to me, and if his horse were standing square I believe that his feet would sit right where they should be, high enough to touch the horse's girth, low enough to create good balance. The second picture is too small for me to see. Looking at other pictures of him though, almost all of them show him with nice, long stirrups. Not with his legs crooked behind his knee and pushed forewards at the ankle.