Iíll preface with I donít do the all-around general English riding. I ride hunters, then I ride dressage. To different horses, two different saddles. So the half in between base position isnít my forte, but basics are basics.
I guess this is all I'm really looking for at the moment - basics - so you've been really helpful.
Donít let yourself get caught in a mental loop of ďI canít do this because my saddle doesnít let meĒ. I think shortening the stirrup one would help with the rising trot too(going off memory).
Sorry, it just gets really disheartening to go back and forth between lessons and Sam and become unable to do things I should be able to do :s To be honest I'm enjoying the challenge, it can just get frustrating at times!
Long stirrup does not a long leg make. The length of the leg is determined by the muscle length, not physical length. This sucks for people with short legs(*cough*Like me*cough*) because when we shorten our legs involuntarily it is really obvious. People gifted with those lovely long Dressage legs get away with having short muscles because their leg appears to be long so no one questions it. It is better to have a shorter stirrup that you are secure in, than a long stirrup that you have to reach and strain for that destabilizes the rest of your seat.
Okay, that makes a lot of sense. I lengthened the stirrups after watching youtube video tutorials of dressage riders saying it'd help me practise sitting a bouncy trot.
You can drop your stirrups(walk or trot), move your leg around, get it relaxed and on the horse, then take back your stirrups and feel the difference. It gets really obvious after youíve been trotting without stirrups, are a little bit tired, and take your stirrups back. They are usually 1-2 holes too short then. BUT, the trick is maintaining that length. So lots of back and forth dropping and picking up stirrups.
BUT, if you decide to trot w/o, you need to watch that you are not gripping with the knees to stay on. That defeats the purpose and shortens the muscles back up. If your horse is reliable and you have a smaller area(or feel you can steer well enough), cross your stirrups, put the reins in one hand and down in the neck(other can go on the pommel or elsewhere when you are more comfortable), and trot a 20m circle while swinging your legs. This does multiple things: helps you find your center through your seat, reduces your reliance on the knees and legs to grip and hold on, and teaches you to move and unlock the hips. This is great to do on the lunge line, but not everyone has that luxury, so you can give yourself a lunge line lesson.
I actually find riding in general a lot
easier without stirrups. I lose stirrups easily, I'm guessing because I occasionally involuntarily lift my leg when I come unbalanced. That then throws my concentration off completely because I have to fish around for the stirrup again. Is it just a matter of practising keeping the leg long and keeping pressure down on the stirrup by dropping the weight through the heel? I get really confused by people saying, "don't jam your heel down, you should be able to post in trot without putting pressure on the stirrup" and "you need to maintain pressure on the stirrup." I can post without stirrups so is it just trying to keep that level weight on the stirrup bar to stop it from slipping?
Thanks for these exercise ideas! I'm having my little sister come to practise with me today so we'll try the lunging and really focus on this.
Move your stirrups up and down during your ride(within reason). Work on your flat with the longer leg, then shorten the stirrups when you want to do pole work or jumps.When you are working up in the two point, your toes can turn out a bit to anchor the lower leg. Itís a two point, two points of contact, two calves.
The only thing I'm apprehensive about shortening my stirrups for is sitting the trot - before Sam, the bounciest horse I rode was a TB in the lesson but Sam really takes the biscuit. As I said, I lowered the stirrups to try and sit his trot better, which helps a lot, but without long legs it's even more difficult to sit. Will the stability just come with a better seat and stronger core?
Itís unfortunate that your instructor hasnít broached any of these topics, but not uncommon. Lots of instructors either donít understand it themselves, or donít think it needs to be part of the foundation. But that being said, Iíve only seen a couple short clips of you ride. Maybe what I am telling you is way over your head and not appropriate. Maybe not. Canít say.
It might be completely over my head at the moment, I'm not sure myself because I don't know how one progresses when jumping. All I can say is I certainly don't feel unbalanced when going over small jumps and I'm getting the feel for when to rise into two-point. It might be that it's above the group generally since we're split into two abilities. On our first jumping lesson half of us went up to a 50cm and the other half remained at floor level. When we practise properly, half of us jump at about a 30cm (which is what the jump in the video was at) whilst the other half are still on the ground (who happen to be the more nervous riders as well). He might just be getting us to work on our position before complicating it further?
The crest release is where you reach your hands forward along the crest of the neck and rest them there(not weighting them though) for the duration of the jump. I would advise to grab mane as well, to solidify the release and protect your horseís mouth from any missteps. There will be slack in the rein for those moments. Once you get better, you can move away from the crest release, but for now it is the best way for you to learn.
In a perfect world, you give your release as your horse pushes up over the fence, then take it back when they land. At a learning level, you can exaggerate that. Give the release 1-2 strides before the pole, over the pole, and 1-2 after the pole. This reinforces the idea of stillness. Often the release causes riders to throw their bodies around and that is what will cause missteps and rails. Your horse should be steady enough in the canter that you do not need to be holding them for every stride. You can test this on the flat by releasing the inside rein for a stride or two and see their reaction. If they stay the same, great. If they change then you need to work on the quality of the canter.
Thank you, I will practise this! I think his canter is fine but I'll make sure with your suggestions first. I've got a lot to practise on the flat for now :)
I wonít say itís futile. I donít have enough information, couldnít unless we were in person(and to a certain degree what you feel). If this is the case, you may have to work harder. Do keep trying to rotate the leg in(from the hip, not just the toes). Just as often it is the hips being tight and not used to being in that position.
I'll carry on trying to force them into the right position then. The exercises you've suggested will hopefully help loosening my hip. Thank you for taking the time to write all this, you've been a huge help!
I did not read all the comments so sorry if there are some repeats here.
I think you both look really good. On your trot work, he has really good impulsion, but I would say you could use a half halt to bring him back to you and and get him to step under himself and use his back more. Cavaletti will help with this, just lay out more ground poles in a grid and trot or walk over them.
I noticed he has a very odd canter in that last video, you can see it at 0:10-0:20. He is on his left lead, but he brings his right rear leg forward with his front left instead of his left rear. He is correct until he goes over the pole, and then his rear legs switch and are off. I think
is right. Here is a picture of a normal canter, and he is doing the opposite of this horse with his rear legs.
Thank you! We've been working on upping the impulsion a bit since the owner suggested he was a bit slow (which is completely my fault, he's easier to sit when he's slower)! Once exams are over I'll be making some cavaletti stands and buying some proper poles for a grid (these ones are old fence posts and are only about 2' - 3' long). We can try this after then
Yeah, I see it now. It's really obvious now that you've pointed it out. He doesn't seem to have a problem when he's just doing flatwork. I'll have to try and lunge him over poles to see if I can show the owner. I won't be jumping him for the meantime.