When your horse trips how do you maintain a seat - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 08-18-2019, 12:20 AM Thread Starter
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I know core strength and a good sit are important. I ride a bouncy lesson horse and her transitions from canter to walk or trot throw me forward. She tends to make those transition decisions on her own therefore I am caught by surprise ( I know I should not). When I do ask her to come to a walk or trot from the canter I try my mighty best to sit but I just bounce a lot which in turn makes me lean forward and I try to balance with my hands, it's a mess. Today, we were trotting poles and she tripped big time so while we were on our way down I fell on her neck but she managed to gain balance, stand and stopped. My instructor asked me why that happened to which I answered I didn't sit back and I leaned forward, she agreed. My question is, when a horse trips and goes head down don't they pull you regardless of how strong your core is?

Last edited by Chappywillbehisname; 08-18-2019 at 12:29 AM.
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post #2 of 11 Old 08-18-2019, 01:38 AM
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Simple answer is no, they should not pull you forward!

The fact that you state'i try to balance with my hands' states to me that you have it all wrong. You do not use you hands for balance.

When you hold your reins your hands should be soft and supple (relaxed) the only pressure should be with your thumb pressing the rein into your fore finger, your arms, especially from your elbow to shoulder should be like a strong piece of elastic giving and taking, moving as the horse's head moves keeping an even pressure on the reins.

So, if a horse stumbles you hands should go forward, when they reach the end of their stretch, if the horse still needs more rein, they should slip through your fingers. Meantime, your body should move to lean back.

With your cantering takes your reins in one hand and with the other pull the front of the saddle up off your horse's withers, this makes you sit deeper. So this until you can sit deep at the trot, then try with a rein in each hand.
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post #3 of 11 Old 08-18-2019, 01:38 AM
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Not exactly sure what you're saying/asking.

Did the horse trip over? Does the horse trips more than once in a blue moon & you're worried about how to handle that? This generally means the horse has a physical problem(perhaps 'just' bad farriery or such) so I'd want to first handle it by not riding the horse until I'd ruled out/treated physical probs.

As for your balance when something like that happens, I'm not sure it's about 'core strength' so much, but just balance & how relaxed or stiff you are. If you're all rigid & using your strength to stay sitting 'right' then you will be a lot less able to go with the flow, stay balanced with sudden movements. You'll likely still come across instances where you're out of sync, your horse loses you or such(yesterday, bareback, when I was prepared for my horse to jump a small log, but he unexpectedly leapt, from a metre away from it & must have jumped a metre high, he very nearly lost me!) I'm no good at explaining it seems, but I'll have a go... I sort of let my bottom half go/stay with the horse, while my top half stays upright, regardless of what's going on below. If I had to use a word for how it feels, I'd say fluid. I try to stay fluid while I'm riding.
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Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]www.horseforum.com/horse-health/hoof-lameness-info-horse-owners-89836/
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]https://www.horseforum.com/members/41...res-128437.jpg
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post #4 of 11 Old 08-18-2019, 01:39 AM
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Practice without stirrups, really gets you balanced. Here is a video of my horse having a real bad stumble and I stayed on. you have to watch the whole video cuz it's near the end but it's only a minute and a half.

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post #5 of 11 Old 08-18-2019, 02:57 AM
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Once I got over the vertigo from watching that video, I could see that the way @waresbear stayed on is that she stayed vertical (which means she leaned back), and she allowed her arms to go forward, and the reins to slide through her fingers; jsut as @Foxhunter described.


One thing will make that difficult and this is if you already are holding the reins with your elbow straightened out and your arms stiff and extended to the max already. There should be some bend in your elbow, and your upper arm closer to vertical, tucked against your ribcage more than sticking out like you are holding a wheelbarrow.


When you get better, you will be able to set your horse up so that when she transitions down from a canter to a walk, you will prepare her, and she will do so in a more balanced manner, so it won't be so abrupt. This takes having the ability to put her onto the bit some, and to drive her forward with MORE impulsion. In fact, if your horse is canter faster, she may actually trip LESS.


I had a fall off a hrose, when it did just what waresbear's horse did, but I was chucked into the ground ( I do not have as good a seat). It was a rough fall, and I was scared to canter for a long time. When I did canter, I allowed the horse to just sort of lollygag along at a sloppy and lazy pace, and so he would still trip. When I picked up the energy level and asked more of him, he tripped less.
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post #6 of 11 Old 08-18-2019, 03:07 AM
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I think some of the “horse” terminology might be confusing the students. You shouldn’t “lean back” compared to the ground. You should be trying to stay perpendicular to the ground. If you look at the video above, waresbear stays perpendicular to the ground, she doesn’t lean back. She only appears to lean back when compared to the horse. The goal is to keep your center of balance exactly where it was before the stumble.

I don’t really think this can be achieved deliberately as the horses movements are way too fast for our brain to have time to analyze it. I think it comes when you’ve ridden enough hours for you spine to take over the processing, as it does with walking and running on your own legs. If you think about it, when you stumble on your own, you don’t go about debating which way you should lean to counteract the forces, you do it automatically. Same with riding.

I read a white paper which demonstrated that the pathways from brain to limbs are too long for information to travel there and back for any sort of automated response. That’s why we have a spine which takes over but the spine needs a lot of repetition to be able to make such decisions. All in all, enjoy those riding hours while you teach your spine :)
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post #7 of 11 Old 08-18-2019, 03:18 AM
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Talking about jarring transitions, if I’m riding a horse whose training isn’t advanced enough for instant smooth transitions, I get into a “forward” seat when transitioning - I lift myself out of the saddle slightly, just by tightening my glutei and thigh muscles - not around the horse but “up”, just making them slightly hard so that my weight is off the saddle. I don’t think much can be achieved by forcing yourself to sit those, either for you or the horse. I get a feeling that trying to force it will just make the horse brace more and more, because they anticipate you hitting their back. I’d start off by getting you completely out of the saddle so that you feel the change and how far you need to lift. I am not sure if this is something that’s “correct” and that your instructor would approve of but it works for me. Usually, by the end of the ride, a horse like that relaxes enough to fully sit the transitions (not always, sometimes it takes a long time, depending on the horse and his training and conformation).
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post #8 of 11 Old 08-18-2019, 06:51 AM
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I ride very rough trails and stumbling is always a hazard. So is almost any unexpected movement. Because I don't want to catch my horse in the mouth I tend to ride with "loose hands" -- the reins will slide right through my fingers if need be. I do NOT rely on my hands to stay balanced, God forbid. Now my dressage instructor is always after me to take a grip ... because the trails are so challenging, I often let my horse decide when to change gait to negotiate a bad patch. This has really helped me with sitting transitions!

Read what @Foxhunter wrote. She said it better than anyone.

My former teacher used to say, always ride as though, if your horse disappeared, you'd land on your feet. That is, over your own point of gravity.

I found that riding in a rough-out bareback pad is a lot easier than riding in a slippery English saddle with no stirrups. But I agree wholeheartedly that nothing improves your balance faster.

I also second @tinyliny that with experience you will be able to anticipate when your horse is going to downward transition on her own. That's the time to boot her along and remind her it's not her decision!

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post #9 of 11 Old 08-18-2019, 07:52 AM
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Think about pushing your belt buckle towards your hands, and you'll engage your core and be able to sit up and back. Also be prepared to open your hands slightly and let the reins slide through so that you don't get pulled forward if the trip is a BIG one... which is hard to do, I know, because the instinct is to grab with our hands when something isn't going right. Getting some lessons on a longe line where you can work without your reins will help with security, and balance, and not feeling as dependent on them for your seat.
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post #10 of 11 Old 08-20-2019, 11:24 PM
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Tinyliny sorry, I was really playing around with all the effects on movie maker .

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