Help! My equitation is horrible - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 28 Old 02-25-2019, 10:30 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ApuetsoT View Post
I disagree that your leg isn't that bad. You aren't star-fishing, but your leg is not under control. Each post, your leg is bouncing and your toe is down for a portion of the stride while your heel draws up. That is bumping the horse with every stride and gives them a good reason to be sour to the leg. It is also not a secure leg.

The leg shouldn't be braced and never moving, but it needs to be still in relation to the horse. You have a leg like that on a sensitive horse and you will be on your butt quick. It's also going to dull an already dull horse. You also can't give subtle cues when the leg is moving constantly. How is the horse to know what's a cue and what's an aid?

Some hunters might ride with a braced leg, but they shouldn't be. You also don't want the jelly ankles you see on some dressage riders. Watch some videos of Big Eq riders. You can see their leg is still on the horse's side, but still moves to accommodate changes in gait and position.
Just because others said it isn't as bad as I thought doesn't mean I don't plan to work incredibly hard to fix it. I feel like the rides I put in over the weekend helped a lot. Once I get shorter leathers for my jumping saddle I'll be working on my 2 point as well.
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post #22 of 28 Old 02-25-2019, 11:00 PM
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I thought about this thread today, out riding trails. I kept my lower leg quieter. good to think about this. helps with stability.


what is 'starfishing'?
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post #23 of 28 Old 02-25-2019, 11:19 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
I thought about this thread today, out riding trails. I kept my lower leg quieter. good to think about this. helps with stability.


what is 'starfishing'?
Starfishing is common with barrel racers, where the rider allows their seat to fly out of the saddle with their legs way off the horse kicking.

79fc4643f2e090e7f0792c184068c060.jpg
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post #24 of 28 Old 02-26-2019, 12:59 AM
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Yea, that's the most coming example of star fishing. Another is beginners who post from their feet, their legs fly out and forward, and this hand come up as the seat falls back.
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post #25 of 28 Old 02-26-2019, 06:25 PM
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Equitation is extremely important if you're riding in an equitation class at a show. Otherwise, it is very rigid and forced and almost, incorrect for lack of a better word. I see a relaxed quiet rider. Your legs are not flapping, you're moving them. Look at some of the top riders in different disciplines, it's not about proper equitation it's about effective riding. Equitation carries over but there's way too much of a focus on it, great early on but then I think because these things are drilled into our head we place too much importance on them. They are fundamentals, but fundamentals can be tweaked to suit situations. For example, I had a trainer specifically tell me to hold my hands far apart on my green mare, a trick that she had found very helpful in many years of training green horses. Are you happy and the horse happy? Great! Step up- is your riding quiet and effective and the horse moving responsively and carrying itself properly? Also great! Unfortunately hunter/jumpers as an in general is way more about "looking pretty" then proper riding. You can't jump a 5 foot fence without knowing how to *really* ride, but unfortunately a lot of that is lost in the lower levels. I'm not surprised you are surrounded by that, since that's where the focus comes from. I learned to ride in that style and regret it as I'm often too rigid and perched above the horse and have worked very hard to relearn *riding* vs *equitation*. Like I said watch the pros- if you want to do hunters, watch hunters of course! But also watch other disciplines, regardless of which you want to focus on. If you become a good rider it's easier to tweak a specific body part later on- hey my legs are moving a lot, I'll focus on keeping them quiet! Jumping too, most of what you're watching is actual jumping in those disciplines, you aren't jumping, a longer stirrup effects how your leg sits. Lots of things to keep in mind.

My equitation is horrible. I won't ever win a class. But I can ride green and difficult horses in lots of different situations and put training rides on other peoples show horses. I've had jobs riding horses. I'll never be asked to finish a show horse, but that's fine with me. Lots better then looking pretty and just sitting there. I always think of polo players as the best example, horrible equitation but boy can those folks ride!

There's stuff you can work on, there's stuff EVERYONE can work on. And lessons are great but don't be too hard on yourself. Take them when you can and just keep on riding lots and lots of different horses. And do get a video or a critique from an experienced friend, it's always good to have something in mind to work on with or without an instructor.

Oh and do keep on posting here too! It helps us all learn!

Last edited by Yogiwick; 02-26-2019 at 06:37 PM.
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post #26 of 28 Old 02-26-2019, 08:42 PM
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Equitation is more than looking good or winning classes. It's about how you sit on the horse and being effective. Equitation is not being stiff or rigid. Your leg should hang down from your hip into your heels, not because it looks good, but because it is the most effective position for communication in the majority of circumstances. You elbows needs to be elastic to maintain clear lines of communication. If the hand is subtly bumping the mouth with every stride, the horse isn't going to trust the bit. They don't trust the bit, they won't go forward. You sit correct because it allows the horse to move their back. Sit crooked or heavy or out of balance and they can't use their back. Spanish Riding School riders don't even get taken off the lunge line or given stirrups or reins until they are able to sit independently on the horse 100% of the time. They are on the lunge line for a year or more. "Learn to do nothing before you can do something".

It's certainly possible to be a quiet, effective rider with less than ideal equitation, but IME it's usually the opposite. Usually you will see a rider with good equitation who is also effective, though more commonly you find poor equitation with ineffective riders (because the horse world is dominated by amateurs. Just how it is.)

Form follows function. There's a reason equitation has evolved as it has, ubiquitously across disciplines.

Explaining away equitation with examples of pros is folly. More often than not, they have excellent equitation. When you're going around a GP course, they can afford to be less than picturesque because they have already mastered their equitation and can adapt to given themselves an edge. But if only 1/10 riders in a class of pros has eccentric equitation, that still says something. We can't all be Charlotte or Beezie, but that's no reason to start out trying to be Richard Spooner.
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post #27 of 28 Old 02-26-2019, 11:07 PM
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Oh I completely agree with you (and well written!), but equitation as you describe it and equitation as many people see it aren't quite on the same page. I don't at all intend to point the OP away from bettering herself or say it's not important to ride as properly (kindly and effectively) as possible. I think it's more important to focus on equitation as it truly is (which you described so well) vs what other people say it is and to keep that difference in mind. Quiet hands for example follow the horse and are not rigid in one place. But don't both meet the definition of quiet? As with most things, better to do it properly if you're going to do it!

The problem I find with teaching is people (teachers and students) focus soo hard on getting something like body position right it comes at a cost of feeling the horse and moving with the horse- and of course riding and understanding the horse. Riding with no stirrups or reins on the lunge one can work on proper equitation- WHILE still accomplishing those far more elusive goals. Not all teaching programs are created equal and I think the mindset, while not necessarily incorrect, has the wrong emphasis even if well intentioned.. not all of us can learn at the Spanish Riding School! *Riding properly should never be less important then a form as written on paper* They do go together, absolutely, but they are not the same thing.

I think where the OP is at of having a solid foundation (I assume, but she obviously has the basics as well as a knowledge of what she needs to improve on and how), right now her teaching has been coming from the horse and learning to feel and to follow and when to lead, etc, that's probably a very good focus for her to have/have had to build off that foundation, and now that she has that added experience she can tweak things that have "fallen to the wayside" and incorporate some exercises to get better leg control and posture. I think she's definitely on the right path. And, obviously very dependent, but I think often a break from instruction can be very beneficial after one has reached a certain point. Practice on your own then supplement an occasional lesson to build on that.
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post #28 of 28 Old 02-28-2019, 08:41 PM Thread Starter
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I love that this has turned into a discussion of form vs function so to speak. It’s been very informative for me and I’m sure it is for everyone else reading as well.

Surprisingly despite my less than ideal equitation, I’m generally pretty ‘sticky’ and can ride just about any horse in any situation and keep calm control. Perhaps the horses I ride are just very generous, but I’d say I do alright. I would agree that I’m a relaxed rider, perhaps too relaxed but I do want to improve!

I ride a variety of seats, I’d like to get into eventing but I’m surrounded by hunter riders who have those incredible lower legs that I envy. I don’t have the money for the hunter circuit up here, and I don’t think my short little Arab cross would do well among all the big money imports. We’re channeling our Teddy O’Connor and going to try evening I think. It all depends on him and if he’s happy and sound at that level.

I follow Denny Emerson very closely, I admire his horsemanship and his approach to fitness for the horse and rider. I absolutely 100% am dedicating myself to get better. I’ve been recently invigorated with the riding bug again, I have been also struggling with motivation to even get on the horse.

I wish I had access to the schoolmasters and trainers at the Spanish riding school. But I’m a broke emt who spends all my money on board and keeping my horse healthy and happy. Not too much spare change left for trainers and lessons while
I’m commuting 60+ miles a day for my unpaid internship. Definitely not much time to ride. I probably haven’t had a proper lesson in 3 or so years, so things have definitely fallen to the wayside.

I can’t reiterate enough how much the feedback and advice from all of you means to be. I’m very appreciative! Hopefully I can get another video soon and you guys can tell me I’m improving!
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