Western Equitation...

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Western Equitation...

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  • Western equitation exercises

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    10-16-2013, 10:52 PM
Western Equitation...

I ride primarily english, but since my trainer and I are focusing on mainly flatwork this winter we've decided to do a few western lessons and do some barrel work because my mare seems to like that. She hates flatwork, however. I'm using the western saddle also for more security because she gets extremely bad.
I want to improve my equitation so I'm not getting in her way. Right now I'm trying to get my heel down and we've realised that I've been pinching with my knees in my jumping saddle! Now with the western I'm trying to let the weight flow a bit more through my heel and stretch down a bit more. My leg also flies out in front of me and it's hard to bring it back when my pony gets "racy".

Are there any exercises that you would recommend for fixing this? I already do a bunch of no-stirrup work in both saddles and bareback on the flat, i've been doing it since summer, which is tons of fun!!!
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    10-16-2013, 11:18 PM
Yes, I have a great one. First of all think toes up instead of heels down because it will help you in this exercise also have a groundsperson to help because you'll need it. Drop your stirrups and take off your spurs (or fashion something to resemble a loop with a weight on the bottom, sort of like a necklace), place (loop it over your toe) that on the top of your foot, now go ride balancing that on the top of your toes. Groundsperson to pick up the spur or whatever you are using every so often. Try to make it round the arena at every gait without dropping it. Good Luck!
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    10-16-2013, 11:28 PM
Oooh sounds fun! A game! Lol only me... I have my english spurs, but i'd have to put some weight on those little things! I'll have to do that next time I ride!
Also, would you recommend this for a beginner lesson student to help her keep her heels down?
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    10-16-2013, 11:30 PM
You can do it with English spurs and straps just as well, it's a tough, effective exercise I tell ya!
    10-16-2013, 11:35 PM
Sounds like it! They have western equitation classes, don't they?
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    10-16-2013, 11:36 PM
You bet they do, and horsemanship as well, equitation and horsemanship are judged on how well YOU ride.
    10-16-2013, 11:38 PM
Does the horse have to have headset like they do in pleasure? I know they have to have the jog & lope and not trot/canter speeds, but I bet I could do walk/jog classes... hm.
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    10-16-2013, 11:42 PM
This is open shows right, not breed shows? At open shows, if your horse moves like they do in breed shows in pleasure, you will probably get the gate. A level topline is the ideal, too low or too high is penalized.
    10-16-2013, 11:46 PM
Yup, open/schooling shows! I definitely do not have a breed show horse, I was just wondering because there's a few western classes at a winter series I'm attending that I might want to do. She's got a good headset at the trot after I work her a bit, but doesn't neck rein. Hopefully by the end of next year I'll be able to do some all-around stuff with her!
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    10-17-2013, 10:44 AM
Green Broke
I'm using the western saddle also for more security because she gets extremely bad.
Can you elaborate more on what you mean by this?

My leg also flies out in front of me and it's hard to bring it back when my pony gets "racy".
That means you are bracing with your stirrups for balance, instead of using your seat and legs. However, the TYPE of the western saddle you ride in will make somewhat of a difference on where your leg hangs. For example, most barrel racing saddle do have the stirrups set slightly forward, because that's the position that works the best for barrel racing (for most people). So just keep in mind that the saddle design may not fully encourage that heel-hip-ear alignment, but you still shouldn't be bracing with the stirrups.

You already do lots of "no stirrup" work and that's great. So when you do use the stirrups, visualize in your head and pretend you still don't have your stirrups. Envision "lengthening" your legs to make your heels touch the ground. Keep your weight back in the saddle, and use your thighs to keep your balance.

Does the horse have to have headset like they do in pleasure?
For horsemanship and western equitation, the rider is judged. So no the horse doesn't need to have a perfect western pleasure frame, but they do still need to be collected and travel correctly. If the horse doesn't travel nicely, that means the rider cannot effectively cue the horse, which will dock you.

Watch this video as an example from the AQHA world show. The horse's head is elevated higher than it would be in a western pleasure class, but the horse is still collected and listening nicely to the rider.

She's got a good headset at the trot after I work her a bit, but doesn't neck rein
Neck reining comes from your seat and legs. The reins are just the secondary cue if the horse doesn't first respond to your seat and legs.

Probably what will be a harder transition for your horse is going from contact on the mouth (English) to a loose draped rein (Western).

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