Beginner English Critique - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 05-31-2014, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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Beginner English Critique

So I am a beginner, walk/trot/just starting to canter. I haven't had a true 'lesson' where my position was critiqued since probably September (couldn't get to my instructor's because of the crazy winter we had), and I feel like I've fallen into some bad habits.

For starters, I see my toes pointing east and west, especially at the trot and in the canter video. Why, and what can I do to fix it?
I also see myself leaning too far forward at the trot and have some icky slouchy/rounded shoulders. I seem to have a hunched-up position up top, I think. Any good ideas for how to open myself up more?
As for my arms, I don't see a straight line from bit to elbow, should I bend my elbows more or lower my hands or...?

***Yes, I am riding hunt style in a dressage saddle...unfortunately it's the only one that fits him and *reasonably* fits me.***

The canter video...I'm still learning to really find my own seat and not pop up too much. I cringe at my yucky pumping, especially at the beginning. Am I catching him in the mouth at all? Sorry about the quality.

A bit about my steed...

I've been fortunate enough to be able to ride this horse all winter and spring. He's 20, and yes he's quite fat. He collects pretty well tracking right (he tends to overbend inside) and the other direction he is very locked up. He likes to try to either not bend at all or take an outside bend, because obviously that's easier (any ideas how to fix that as long as I'm asking for help? ) I assume it is really hard for him because he doesn't have the muscle build (he is a therapy horse and hadn't had any serious riding for a while until I started working with him)

Thank you in advance!
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post #2 of 14 Old 05-31-2014, 08:47 PM
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what I can see some hints of is that you get a bit of a pooch to your butt going out behind you , which then will put you just a bit onto balancing onto your hands . however, you are really doing quite well, so you should be really happy with that.
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post #3 of 14 Old 05-31-2014, 09:11 PM
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I think you look really good!

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post #4 of 14 Old 05-31-2014, 09:20 PM
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the evil crop exercise is great for bringing the elbows back and opening up the shoulders and chest :)
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post #5 of 14 Old 05-31-2014, 09:50 PM
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You are definitely off to a nice start. Looks like your horse likes to take advantage of your slightly slouched shoulders and pull the reins away from you. Think about really opening your chest, bringing your shoulders back and down as if you were attempting to touch your shoulder blades together. The rest of your "blocks" are stacked up nicely, but you need to get your shoulders over your hips and feet. It creates a strong core that your horse will find much more difficult to pull against. Close you fingers around the reins too. Think strong hands, but supple elbows so you keep following your horse's motion. Great start though!

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
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post #6 of 14 Old 05-31-2014, 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by caitiecait View Post
the evil crop exercise is great for bringing the elbows back and opening up the shoulders and chest :)
I've never heard of this, and now I'm curious! What is it?

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post #7 of 14 Old 06-01-2014, 06:41 PM
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The evil crop exercise is when you put a longer crop (or whip) through your back and in between your elbows. It helps to relax your elbows and bring them back to your body. It also helps to open your shoulders up! I can post a picture of it, if you don't understand what I'm saying haha its kinda confusing sorry:/
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post #8 of 14 Old 06-01-2014, 10:59 PM
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You look pretty darn good! You're a bit pitched forward most of the time; think of sitting back and down and keeping your shoulders over your hips. I can't quite see you heel, but it looks like it needs to be a tad more down. Overall, you're a lovely pair. Good luck to you!

~Hoofbeats in my heart~
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post #9 of 14 Old 06-02-2014, 12:53 AM
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If you are trying for a forward seat, you will lean some to the front. Here is an example from George Morris:

Notice what he says about toes pointing out (15-45 deg) and that yes, you should be leaning forward some.

Below is older advice, which may not apply to the modern hunt seat style, but does apply to riding in a forward seat at least part of the time:

For good reading, and usually not too expensive, I recommend:

Commonsense Horsemanship

Commonsense Horsemanship: Vladimir S. Littauer: 9780668057912: Books

Hunter Seat Equitation

Hunter Seat Equitation: George H. Morris: 9780385413688: Books

This one is more expensive, but I think it is clearly written. It is the source of the text in the second picture:

Riding and Schooling Horses

Riding And Schooling Horses: Harry D. Chamberlin, John Cudahy, Edwin M. Sumner: 9781163173299: Books

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #10 of 14 Old 06-06-2014, 12:07 PM
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i've shared this before but re: the open chest.... think "boobs to Jesus!!!"

totally ridiculous, but had me lifting my chest to the heavens, and shoulders naturally going back when i thought it.

i still struggle w/ the open chest thing. the fact of the matter is, it feels so vulnerable! I've been doing better w/ core exercises because i feel stronger and more willing to assume that position.

i think your canter looks great for just starting. i'm still struggling w/ mine and I've been doing it for a year and a half. (not that that's SO long.. but for all the effort i put in, my body/mind just seem to progress at their own pace..!)
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Re: any of my advice - Happy to give my two cents, but not an expert... just a girl who loves riding horses!
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