one of my major faults as a rider is ... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 05-04-2009, 12:47 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Ontario, Canada
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one of my major faults as a rider is ...

... the position of my lower back and shoulders. I have a hard time keeping straight and steady. It always tends to tilt slightly forward. How do I stop this?? If I'm working on something new and concentrating on lots of things at once, my back is the first thing to suffer. For example, going up into a new gait (since I'm concentrating on that, I'll forget my back position and tilt forward slightly).

This makes a difference to my horse as well. The other day, I was riding a little bit forward and the moment I started to sit back and straighten my back, my horse immediately lifted her back and went into a frame. I had found my centre of balance and wasn't ahead of her diagonal anymore.

Here is me at the trot ... and yes, I am aware I have piano hands here and that my toes point out:

And the canter... my back is now way worse:

What are some practical exercises to help my back? Please help! Thanks!

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future'" ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Last edited by Jubilee Rose; 05-04-2009 at 12:49 PM.
Jubilee Rose is offline  
post #2 of 14 Old 05-04-2009, 02:01 PM
Join Date: Nov 2008
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This may not be the correct way to do it, but what I try to do is take a deep breath and push all of the other things I'm thinking about to the back of my mind (kind of like the position of your back and shoulders is at the back of yours) and bring the things I need to focus on toward the front. I tend to take things in I work on one or two things at a time until they are fixed (at least for the moment)...then I move on to the next thing... So I'd start out focusing on where my back and shoulders are and then go down the list to the next thing I'm focusing on. I hope that makes sense...again I'm not sure if that's the correct way to do things, but it helps me.

orangetictac is offline  
post #3 of 14 Old 05-04-2009, 05:37 PM
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It looks to me like your troubles are happening because of where you are sitting in the saddle. It looks like you are sitting too far towards the back of the saddle, which pitches your leg forward, and makes you feel like you have to lean forward to compensate. Scootch your seat forwards so that you are sitting in the middle, but a smidge towards the front, not on the back part of the saddle.
If you were to draw a line from your seat to your heel, it wouldn't line up would it? Scooting your seat forward will make it easier you to get your leg underneath you so that you don't feel like you have to lean forward to remain balanced over your stirrups.
To turn your toes forward, think of raising your heels a little because your leg cannot act as a shock absorber and remain soft if your heel is jammed down. You don't want all your weight in your heels, you want it even throughout your whole foot. Imagine a flat board as stirrups, and keeping the bottom of your foot as flat to the board as you can. The way you have your heels, only your heels would be touching the board. Make sense?
So lift your heels, and then as you're sitting in the saddle, open your legs so that your thighs lift straight away from the saddle. Then point your knees at the saddle, and allow your legs to drop in that position. You won't grip with your knees, but you won't be able to get those toes forward if your knees are pointing too far to the outside.
I really like the way your shoulders and arms are very soft, and making a straight line from your elbow, through the rein to Jubilee's mouth. That's wonderful. Your back looks basically fine to me, it's the other things that need the fixin'! How is her head crookedness doing?

In riding, a horse's energy is like a river- guided by the banks but not stopped by them.
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post #4 of 14 Old 05-04-2009, 06:16 PM
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A stronger core (tummy muscles) fixes most tilting evils. $20 will get you a pilates DVD for building core strength. Inside of two weeks, you'll be sitting taller, have more strength, and your horse will love you for it.
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post #5 of 14 Old 05-04-2009, 06:26 PM
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Please watch this video. I have spent a lot of time with Wendy in several clinics and participated in a week long instructors course on how your positions comes into effect with riding. She is based off Sally Swift, but has numerous methods of her own to teach the correct riding position to achieve balance and ease with the least amount of effort.
YouTube - Ankle Position
Her website is Wendy Murdoch - Home

In riding, a horse's energy is like a river- guided by the banks but not stopped by them.
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post #6 of 14 Old 05-04-2009, 07:09 PM
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I do nearly the same thing. My coach has me put my elbows on my hips and press my shoulders down to engage my core muscles and give me strength through the back. For the leaning forward, if you think of your balancing your head on your shoulders like it's not attached then you're going to have to sit up perfectly straight to keep your head on your body.
I would personally get in more lessons with someone who is not going to let you off the hook for that and work a lot on keeping your position better and more effective. I also agree that you need to sit further towards the front of the saddle (I know it's tough for us long thighed riders!).

Good luck!
~*~anebel~*~ is offline  
post #7 of 14 Old 05-04-2009, 08:49 PM
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I think you look like a very nice, soft rider! You look a little crooked, your right shoulder is shifted pretty far forward (even though you are going left and making your horse bend, your shoulder shouldn't be that far forward. I also agree with koomy in that you are sitting way too far back un the saddle. Also, think about a string pulling you up toward the sky form the center of your helmet. That will help you sit a little taller but not be "posed". Good luck!
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post #8 of 14 Old 05-05-2009, 03:56 AM
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I had this same problem starting the trot, the way my trainer put it...

"Make your tits look bigger!" (excuse the language!)

So I guess if you need a visual, imagine pushing you chest out with you shoulders back and stretching your figure to look good and impress someone.

Lol, probably not the best advice, but it DID work for me, especially after this guy I liked came to take a lesson
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post #9 of 14 Old 05-05-2009, 11:43 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2008
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OrangeTicTac - I'll have to try that, thanks.

Koomy - Now that I look at the pictures, you're right, I do sit very far back! I never noticed that before, lol. That's probably why I'm having so much trouble! Thanks for pointing that out. That also explains why I always seem to slide my leg position back, because I'm sitting farther back. And yes, I will try to raise my heels a little. And Jubilee? When I rode her the other day I did a ton of bending both inside and outside on a large circle. I think she's just lacking neck muscle and a little unbalanced from not being ridden all winter. She's improving though, which is great, thanks!

MyBoyPuck - Thanks for the suggestion. I'll have to look into that.

Anebel - Actually my friend gave me a mini lesson the other day. I told her to call me on all the times I tilted forward and it really helped. It's amazing how easily you forget about it and sacrifice your position when you're concentrating on something! Thanks!

Ahisi - Aww, thanks. My old instructor used to tell me that about the string too.

Caboose - Only too true! Haha.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future'" ~ Jeremiah 29:11

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post #10 of 14 Old 05-05-2009, 11:53 AM
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First - think about sucking your navel to your spine - do it while riding but also when you walk. This will strengthen your core.

Also any core exercise workout will help - you can try a large exercise ball (10-15 bucks) with a beginners program dvd from the library. I teach water pilates which we do in the pool, gives great balance and builds strong core and strong back.
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