What type of western saddle puts you in a decent "classical" position? - Page 5
   

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What type of western saddle puts you in a decent "classical" position?

This is a discussion on What type of western saddle puts you in a decent "classical" position? within the Western Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Bareback riders
  • Is there a saddle that puts your feet forward

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    05-13-2013, 10:49 AM
  #41
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Honeysuga    
The thing is, western saddles are made for you to sit on your pockets in a deep seat. Your stirrups will be longer and you will have more of a "chair seat". Gotta remember that western and english are completely different riding styles, down to the way you sit in a saddle. The more you relax and sit on your pockets, the easier you will find it to find a proper position.
Actually....western saddles USED to be made to force you into a position that puts you behind the motion. But that is definitely not true today (and the past 10 years), with the flatter WP seat etc. Also if you are sitting on your back pockets....you are not riding balanced and centered no matter what the discipline. Western postion is more like a dressage position that anything else. That's the way I ride WP and HMS.
     
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    05-13-2013, 11:37 AM
  #42
Trained
The traditional western position WAS on the pockets, and with feet in front. And having tried it, there is nothing wrong with riding like that, so long as you move with your horse and don't brace against the stirrups. A dressage seat is also well behind the motion, unless the horse is moving in a collected gait - and since that is the goal of dressage, that is what the dressage position is intended for.

The traditional western position is behind the horse because that is a really good place to be if the horse is moving fast, then unexpectedly puts on the brakes. It also works well for a horse that changes direction rapidly...cutters still use a position very similar to the traditional western seat. I use that position every ride, for part of the ride, using my Aussie-style saddle. My horses now consider it to be a cue to relax and move freely as opposed to go fast.

A chair seat is when your thighs are like they are in a chair - thighs horizontal, or close to it. Horizontal thighs are NOT traditional western riding:



John Jackson, Matador range boss, looking out over a herd of 5,000 cattle at a roundup. Matador Ranch, Texas., 1906

Ain't nothing horizontal about that thigh. The only real difference in how I ride when I want my horses to relax is my leg is vertical from the knee down. That, and I don't have the handlebar mustache...



If you don't have flexible hips, and most men do not, then it works pretty good. Rather than do some belly-dancer moves to absorb the motion, you open and close your body & legs at the hip. Most men are much better at that than at belly-dancing. Particularly if they share in the 'prosperity' John Jackson and I have!



Anyone who doesn't want to ride like that doesn't have to. Part of the attraction of western riding for me is that it is very functional - if it works, it is OK. Put my heels under my hip at a trot or canter, and my body will hammer the horse's back like a jackhammer! I have a belly, but it don't dance! Jiggle some, perhaps, but it doesn't dance! Slide my heels forward about 8 inches, and let the motion get absorbed by the V between my legs and torso, and suddenly I can sit the trot or canter without my horses getting angry.

I have no objection to those who ride with heels under hip. If it works for you and your horse, and it feels comfortable for you, go for it! FWIW, my Aussie-style Master Campdraft saddle naturally puts the back of my heel about in line with my belt buckle, and that is with my feet deep in the stirrup. It has a narrower twist that most western saddles I've used, so it is easier for my heels to slide back than it is in my Circle Y. I consider that a fault ( ), but more classical riders might consider that a big bonus.
     
    05-14-2013, 12:17 AM
  #43
Weanling
Bsms and others - I appreciate all your input into this thread, especially because I have (and do) spend 10+ hours in the saddle at a time. I do rope (actually more snare because I suck at roping hahaha), dally up, ride colts and other unpredictable horses, etc. I do understand that feet forward CAN be an effective position. But, having your feet under you IS a more effective way to ride for many different reasons.

I want a saddle that allows me to move my legs, but also doesn't make it hard to keep my feet under me which my old association DOES do. I think it's a roping saddle, so it makes sense that it does push my feet forward. I love that saddle and will keep it for the bush, for riding colts, etc but I want something different for more in depth arena work. Regardless of what peoples interpretation of "Classical" Western seat is, I want something that will allow me to ride in an effective classical seat. Maybe cowboys used to ride with their feet way forward, but I think it's fairly well accepted nowadays that it is more correct to have a straight line from your head to your heels regardless of western or english riding.

Anyway, lots of great input in this thread for sure. I'm going to try out a few saddles in the next week and we'll see what happens.
     
    05-14-2013, 12:29 AM
  #44
Showing
Visually if the fenders aren't too far infront and more where your leg would be, then you'll be able to turn the stirrups and be fine.
     
    05-14-2013, 01:00 AM
  #45
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by SnowCowgirl    
...But, having your feet under you IS a more effective way to ride for many different reasons...I think it's fairly well accepted nowadays that it is more correct to have a straight line from your head to your heels regardless of western or english riding...
1 - WHY is it "more effective"?

2 - That is why I often post the dissenting view, which may be driven in part by my being a man. The view you are pushing became prominent about the time riding horses became something women do, to the point of totally dominating recreational riding.

I think it highly unlikely that millions of cavalry riders and cowboys all did it wrong because none of them ever thought of seeing what happened when they brought their feet back. If someone has tight hips, and most men do, then getting the heel back under the hip requires tension in the leg and prevents the leg from draping the horse.

Remember - I have no objection to you riding however you feel most comfortable. My objection is to claiming that way is superior to how almost everyone rode horses prior to 1960.
     
    05-14-2013, 01:02 AM
  #46
Trained
Look at the vaqueros for the classical seat. After all, they were the first cowboys.
     
    05-14-2013, 01:19 AM
  #47
Trained
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rpu...e_gdata_player

This is a pretty neat video because it shows the classical/Spanish seat and the classical western seat. Same rider. Never mind the German narration
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    05-14-2013, 06:41 AM
  #48
Yearling
I can appreciate the way the cowboys rode eons ago, it worked for them and what they do. However, I''m not a cowboy and horses have become SO TECHNICAL over that past decades, that training them to use their bodies and carry themselves effectively with balance from tail to nose....the rider needs a balanced and centered seat. There is NO way I can use my leg effectually with it shot out in front of me because ALL of my cues come from my lower leg and balanced/centered seat bones. For cowboys, who are chasing cows and want to use a "driving seat", it would be right. For what I do and many many like me, it is wrong.

Here's a pic of me in a WP class (please ignore the crabby look on my horse, we had someone on our 6 big time).


I could have my lower leg back a smidge more in this pic, but my seat is exactly where it needs to be. My seat bones are a form of communication as well as my lower leg, no matter if I''m riding Hunt Seat, Dressage or Western. It's not about "sitting pretty" at all....as someone else said earlier. It's about being an effective rider.
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    05-14-2013, 10:44 AM
  #49
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by GotaDunQH    
I can appreciate the way the cowboys rode eons ago, it worked for them and what they do. However, I''m not a cowboy and horses have become SO TECHNICAL over that past decades, that training them to use their bodies and carry themselves effectively with balance from tail to nose....the rider needs a balanced and centered seat. There is NO way I can use my leg effectually with it shot out in front of me because ALL of my cues come from my lower leg and balanced/centered seat bones. For cowboys, who are chasing cows and want to use a "driving seat", it would be right...It's not about "sitting pretty" at all....as someone else said earlier. It's about being an effective rider.
Actually, I agree with you. For certain demanding sorts of riding, such as dressage and WP and probably a number of other horse sports, you are right. One half of my signature is "b) does your seat enable you to control your horse efficiently?"

So if you need your heel under your hip to give effective control of your horse for your riding, then that IS the right place for your heel!

And if someone can drape a relaxed leg around their horse in such a manner that their heel is under their hip, and if their spine can absorb the motion of the horse while their body is in a straight line shoulder - hip - heel, that is fine too.

From my perspective as a somewhat beginning rider (5 years), watching the others in my family learn to ride, I consider that position an advanced refinement in riding. I do not doubt it is right for dressage, WP, or that some find it a more comfortable way to ride and control their horse. I'm glad they are making saddles that work with that position.

I have a shelf full of books saying it is the ONLY right riding position. I have books for beginners that say that is how everyone needs to ride. Yet with time, I've noticed that almost no one rode that way prior to 1960. I've probably seen over a thousand historical pictures of riding, and no more than 5% of them involve riders with a vertical alignment.

That motivated me to experiment, and I've found good reasons why many men at least might want to avoid that position when learning to ride. In fact, the number of posts on HF about how difficult it is to sit the trot or canter indicates to me that maybe a lot of women should avoid it as well, at least until they have a LOT of experience and are starting to ride well-trained horses in demanding situations.

Here are some advantages of that position, from the perspective of someone who is not highly experienced and does not ride ten hours a day.

Notice this Internet picture of a bareback rider:



Look at the leg position. That is pretty common with bareback riders, although some learn to ride bareback with heels back. Why is it common?

My guess is that it is an easy way to drape your leg around the shape of the horse. When I try it, it puts my knee in the right spot so that my knee bends a little and my legs follow the barrel of the horse easily. In experimenting this last week, I've realized WHY I like my stirrup leathers a certain length. In that saddle, on Mia, that length puts my knee where it can follow the curve of her sides. Raise it, and it pulls my thigh slightly away from her. Lower it, and I have to straighten my leg to keep contact with the stirrup, and it drives my lower leg away from her. I don't ride around squeezing Mia, but she has spooked a lot (but is getting MUCH better) and I don't like having my lower leg too far from her body.

If I were bowlegged, it might be different. If I had more flexible hips, it might be different. But most beginning riders are not bowlegged, and many have to struggle with tension in their hips causing them to pinch with their knee. At least in my experience, it is very hard to grip with the knee in this position. It is very easy to keep a relaxed leg draped around the body of my horse, heels down, not gripping anywhere. And from my experience and reading HF, I think that is a common problem with inexperienced riders.

BTW - I will probably always be an inexperienced rider. One of the points Littauer makes is that for a non-genius, it may take 4-6 hours a day of riding to become truly good, and many people do not have the desire or time to invest. Therefor, he argued that some simplification of good riding was needed for those who liked riding, but liked riding 3-4 hours/week - and that describes me. He believed a more dedicated rider could learn greater refinement and thus get better results, but only if they had the time and inclination to spend lots of hours in the saddle.

Another advantage for the less experienced/dedicated rider is one I've tried to illustrate in the photo below:



I hurt my back riding Mia shortly after I got her, and had to give up jogging for 4 years because it hurt my back too much. I finally have succeeded in jogging again last March...up to about 20-22 minutes 4 times a week now! Well below 40 minutes/day, but I'm improving.

However, there are a lot of posts on HF about how sitting the trot or canter requires a strong core. Folks recommend Pilates. Some say it may take months or years for you to get strong enough and flexible enough to do so. And if you are trying to absorb or move with the horse's vertical motion using a vertical position with a spine that does not compress vertically, that may well be true.

However, what I've discovered is that I can also follow my horse's motion by using the flexibiity God has given almost everyone who gets on a horse - the ability to bend at the waist. With your legs as above, your body is bent slightly at the waist. As the horse's back moves up and forward, you can straighten at the waist and follow the horse's back. And then follow it down again. Once again, this position allows someone who lacks a very flexible back or a very strong core to go with their horse's motion in the trot and canter.

I rode Mia in my Bates Caprilli CC saddle yesterday for the first time in over a year. I mostly rode it with a forward seat, which is how the saddle was designed to be used. But when we cantered, I thought I'd try feet forward, rump in the saddle, moving with her by straightening and bending at my hip. I expected her to flick her ears back in annoyance because I assumed the smaller and narrower support at the rear of the English saddle would dig into her loins.

I was wrong. Her ears stayed full forward. She cantered eagerly, although not as forward in her balance as she sometimes is. She is an expressive mare, but she seemed totally content. And my seat stayed in my saddle, although one of my complaints about Bates & CAIR has been how bouncy the saddle can be.

There is a LOT of advice in books, the Internet and given by experienced trainers saying bsms is bsms. I haven't seen a single book explaining the results I get when I ride like this. I am totally in the minority in the modern world of riding, although almost everyone used this approach 50 years ago. However, I think a lot of riders and a lot of horses are ill-served by the emphasis on a vertical line from shoulder to hip to heel.

I am not in any way questioning how an experienced rider competing in a sport or simply riding in the way easiest for her might want to ride. I do object to the assumption that the Great Vertical Line is the best way for everyone to ride, or a more effective approach for all riders. Many experienced riders ignore that rule (jumpers, polo, cutters, etc). But many inexperienced riders - and I think anyone who doesn't ride more than 3-4 hours/week in some ways qualifies, as I always will - might want to think about using the joints of their body in a way that makes it easy to drape around their horse and move with their horse.

The riders who spend 6+ hours/day can ride any way they want. I'm not qualified to tell them anything about how they ride. But as a beginner, and as someone who doesn't ride more than 4 hours/week, I am in a position to tell them their students may need a different approach than what works for someone who was born on a horse or who makes a living with horses.

Sorry for the long post. Given how many new riders have problems with sitting a trot or canter, I think what I've learned the hard way is worth thinking about. And just because I like her, here is a picture of Mia at the end of yesterday's ride :

     
    05-14-2013, 02:12 PM
  #50
Weanling
I'm wondering when and why a thread where I was merely asking a question had to turn into a debate *shrugs*
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