Maybe it is just me and my old male backbone, but my backbone is largely what it will always be. This was posted the other day on this link: http://www.equineinspired.info/uploa...fessionals.pdf
posted on: A deeper understanding of English saddles
Pages 20-22 discuss backbones, heredity and concludes:
"A trainer asking a student with a lordotic frame to "ride like me‟, is asking for the impossible. If you walk, run, dance or do any aerobic exercise in a lordotic frame, why wouldn't you also want that same abdominal, back muscle interaction while riding a horse? Besides, by forcing a lordotic spine into an unnatural position is exposing the lumbar vertebra into possible herniated or ruptured discs. You are what you are
..." Emphasis mine.
My back is compromised more by an injury riding Mia (OK, suddenly NOT riding Mia) in Jan 2009. It is better, but still causes the right side of my lower back to sometimes swell up when jogging or riding. I've concluded that while I will improve my flexibility slowly, my best flexibility will still be just a small fraction of my daughter-in-law's, who seems to have bones made of cooked spaghetti!
Thus I need a compromise. I will never, ever ride like a good dressage rider
. I started at 50, have done more weightlifting than dancing, and my spine and limited natural athletic ability means I cannot absorb the motion of the horse's back with my vertical spine. And I believe a LOT of recreational riders are in the same spot - we don't have money or time for intensive lessons, we don't have the athletic ability of a top rider in dressage OR any other equine sport, we like riding and being with horses but will rarely exceed 3 -4 hours a week...so what about us?
Most of my riding books are by dressage folks, and most tell me I must use a dressage seat. But dressage is hard. Really hard. Really hard for horses, and really hard for riders. It requires skill, ability, and a lot of practice.
The beauty of the classical western seat, historically speaking, is that it is an easy way to ride. Judging from Mia's reaction, it is easy for her, too! Just finished a ride with her using my Bates Caprilli AP saddle. Tried it today instead of my jump saddle because it has a wider channel underneath it. But it also has CAIR. Bouncy. But today, I'd ask for a canter in a forward seat, then transition to the classic western seat - feet in front, legs draped around my horse but not pinching, heels low, moving my hips up & forward with her motion...and the CAIR wasn't nearly as bouncy as I remember it.
And instead of getting heavy on the front end and cantering around our little arena as if the Hound of the Baskervilles was after her, she attempted some collection. She did not achieve it. She didn't have enough thrusties coming from the hind legs and her back was still to tight, but she shifted some of her weight to the rear and relaxed more than normal for her.
I've never heard of anyone trying the old western seat in an English saddle. I wish I had a video, so I could post it in the critique section and drive everyone nuts! Curb bit, slack reins, one hand, stiff old guy trying to look like a cowboy in an English saddle with a Navajo blanket and 4-bar Australian stirrups.
If I tried bringing my heels back under me, two things happened: my knees started to grip, and I started to bounce.
I'm not telling any experienced rider how to ride. If you are comfortable with heels under hip, go for it. But I bounce, and I fall into my old nemesis of gripping with my knees. If you have a husband who wants to take up riding, or who rides once a month tops, it might be something to think about.
Dressage ridden right is a thing of beauty. Ridden on the cheap, by people who aren't built for it or fit for it, it becomes a stiff rider bouncing on the horse's back while pulling on the mouth and creating a frustrated & confused horse. I think Littauer was right. Some of us need to examine our limitations and figure out how to ride within those limitations. FWIW, I think the 'classic western seat' is worth consideration, particularly for men or those with limited riding time. Easy to learn while still allowing a horse to move underneath you: