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post #21 of 27 Old 03-07-2011, 03:12 PM
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This is obviously western and not dressage, but notice how straight his leg is (although forward), how straight his back is and his depth in the saddle. I'm sure spending 12+ hours a day in the saddle helps too, but his position cutting cattle in 1907 has elements common to dressage.

"Charles Myers cutting animals out from the herd. LS Ranch, Texas, 1907"

Erwin E. Smith Collection Guide | Collection Guide

Great collection of online photos, BTW. But move his heels back and lower his hands, and give him a top hat (oops, new rules, a helmet), and it might look more familiar.
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post #22 of 27 Old 03-07-2011, 03:19 PM
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I think you might find some similar photos in modern rural Spain where they ride Doma Vaquera style. Straight legged, upright posture but on a traditional hand made saddle and riding an Andalucian horse.

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post #23 of 27 Old 03-07-2011, 03:41 PM
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HSA Marketing sells photo copies of horse books written around the beginning of the twentieth century which includes one written by a Major Dwyer. In Dwyer's book on page 71 he describes the advantages of the straight leg including better control of the horse's hind legs.

I get the impression that the bent leg came into fashion as more and more leisure riders wanted to jump their horses - which of course the old cowboys did not need to do. In the US the plains are open whereas in Europe the grassy plains have been divided into fields separated by hedges - which are obstacles to be jumped especially by the hunting field.

Nowadays of course young ladies are passionate about jumping artificial fences made out of painted wood. Hence shortened stirrups and jumping saddles cut with wide skirts and fitted with deep knee rolls.
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post #24 of 27 Old 03-07-2011, 04:30 PM
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Barry, I think you are right. The modern seat for jumping is great for jumping, but only if you first develop a good, independent seat. For that, a long leg helps a lot.

I've been trying to teach myself to ride from reading, and most of the books were written by dressage riders. I'd try to move my hip bone here, put my leg there, curl my lip in a snarl like this, was like the scene in "The Paleface" ( where Bob Hope tries to follow all the advice of gunfighters and gets everything screwed up.

In December, I gave up. I ordered an Australian style saddle and decided I was going to just have fun. And if Mia wasn't thrilled, she could suck it up because I was feeding her and she didn't have to be happy all the time. And to heck with all the dressagy advice, and lengthen my stirrups and try to have fun.

And an odd thing happened. When I stopped trying to put my leg somewhere, and couldn't prop it up on a short stirrup (no, I can't blame that on dressage), gravity pulled it underneath me. And if your leg is under you, your back has to straighten because it feels weird otherwise. And since I wasn't worrying about my horse's reaction, I stopped looking at her head - so my head came up and my arms came back, and...

...and I started looking more...more dressagy? Mind you, any beginner dressage rider could still find lots to critique, but one passing by would no longer slam on the brakes, jump out of the car, and shout, "Who is that deformed man, and why is he clinging to his horse's neck?" When I gave up, I started to succeed. And when I stopped worrying about Mia, Mia started to relax as well. Her tension - some of it - was MY tension, reflected.

That was when I realized why young kids learn to ride better than adults do. They have fun. And while they have fun, their bodies adjust. That doesn't mean we can't have instruction, but we can't solve 12 things at once.

I like the instruction my daughter-in-law is getting. About twice an hour, the instructor says "Toes up", or "look ahead", and that's it. The rest of the time she is being taught the cues for stopping a horse, or slowing the trot, or navigating obstacles or cones or whatever...and after 4 lessons, she sat the trot almost the entire hour. No one told her it was hard. She was focused on something else, and lesson 5 was done almost entirely at the trot, and sitting, and she was smiling and having fun.

I can look and see she is leaning back a little, and her feet are a bit forward, but I spent TWO YEARS working to get where she is at on lesson 5. And she didn't work! I've spent so much time making riding hard, when it was supposed to be fun. To sit the trot, accept the horse's movement rather than fight it. Enjoy your horse. Work on something together. If you bounce a bit, so what? It won't last forever. Your body will figure it out. Your mind cannot.

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post #25 of 27 Old 03-07-2011, 04:53 PM
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BSMS Dr Alexander says that to do something a new and different way , we first have to unlearn the way we have always done it. That means you have to do it the new way 300 times, before the brain learns that that's the way we ought to do it, because we've been told to do it the new way, because the new way is better and anyway it is correct and the proper way because that's the way it should be done and any way it is the book that says that etc etc etc etc.

The our sub-conscious brain says 'No' - our old way is best because that's the way our muscles want to do it now.

I learned that when I started to fall off because I went on hollday and watched a Spaniard riding like Clint Eastwood and I wanted to ride like he did. Trouble was I had a cob called Joe and he wasn't an Andalucian and he didn't speak Spanish.

If the horse could answer, he'd tell us that he could cope whatever way we rode.

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post #26 of 27 Old 03-07-2011, 10:56 PM
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I think what others said about hollowing your back might be creating the pain and difficulty. I recently started doing pilates again. At the start of every session, when I'm on my back, my lower back doesn't come remotely in contact with the mat. It's only after working my core for a good 15 minutes or so that it starts to release and touch the mat. I agree with others that a lot of this will be solved by a stronger core. Stronger core seems to equal a more supple back.

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
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post #27 of 27 Old 03-07-2011, 11:15 PM
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remember to put your heels down. I have trouble with sitting trot too cuz my horse's trot is so big and bouncy. I just shove my heels down and sit deep.

Oh Cowgirl Up
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