please help my position! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 10-17-2016, 07:12 AM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Australia
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please help my position!

Ok, so this is our first ride.
I havent ridden in 7 years.
This is my 4yo ottb (who is remarkably amazing, hasnt put a foot wrong no matter how bizzare i sit on him)

My saddle is a wintec dressage saddle.
Ignore the foam (was trialling as a temp front riser pad till mine arrives tomorrow)
Balloo is very bum high, so i feel myself tipping forward.

Now look at my legs! (Pics below) I couldnt even manage a trot because i feel im going to bounce out of the saddle or hang off his shoulders.
I have no contact with him, i have to push my legs back if i want to push him forward... my knees dont touch the saddle, and if i try squeeze its agony. And my feet come outwards.
I tried heels down but as soon as we go faster to a trot i go straight into superman pose.

What can i do to help?
Please note i start riding lessons on Monday nxt week. And pony club.

I currently do not have knee pads for my saddle.
Thanks all
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post #2 of 11 Old 10-17-2016, 07:16 AM Thread Starter
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Pics of our ride and my horrible position :( help!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Screenshot_2016-10-17-20-55-07_1476699185080.jpg (20.1 KB, 12 views)
File Type: jpg Screenshot_2016-10-17-20-55-24_1476699264888.jpg (20.4 KB, 15 views)
File Type: jpg Screenshot_2016-10-17-20-56-44_1476699298809.jpg (20.5 KB, 7 views)
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post #3 of 11 Old 10-17-2016, 09:23 AM
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No expert but here's a couple of things I see right off the bat. :) Firstly, welcome back to riding! I'm sure you just need some time to find your sea legs, so to speak.

1. It looks to me like your hollowing your back and throwing your chest forward in the rise of the post. I would keep a neutral back, think of bringing your belly button towards your spine and allow the horse's hind leg to push you out of the saddle while you maintain that nice line in your spine.

2. Your lower leg is slipping too far back here. You want your ankle under your hip. That can be for many reasons, I can't really tell from the pic. You look like you have all knee in the saddle, no lower leg. You want a pretty even (not grippy!) contact with your whole leg on the horse, thigh through lower leg. You may need to do some off the horse exercises to open your hips up. I do yoga stretches. If you are tighter up top, you are less able to open around the horse at the bottom of the leg. I would not worry so much about keeping your heels down, I would more work on keeping an open hip and making sure I was on a three point contact with the saddle, that is both seat bones, and pubic bone when in full seat. I would also spend some time in two point every day, especially at trot. You can't fork seat very well if you have too keep your weight in your heels! ;)

3. You are breaking at the wrist (also my favorite riding sin!) Try to keep the thumbs up more as if you were holding ice cream cones.

4. Some might say you are locking your elbow from the second pic but I think you are just following your horse's mouth and if it is not a highly trained horse and you are not a highly trained rider, some following elbow is preferrable to a rider who cranks her horse's face down and locks her arm. Do try to keep elbows relaxed and at your sides as often as you can.

Hope any of that helps. :)

~And He created the horse and said to it, "I have made thee without equal."~
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post #4 of 11 Old 10-17-2016, 09:37 AM
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Sorry, forgot to add this. If your horse is not going forward from your leg, don't squeeze him to death! He'll just get dead to it and you'll compromise your seat. If you feel he won't overreact or be unsafe for you, ride with a dressage whip. I teach mine forward by asking for more forward with the leg. If I don't feel an immediate surge of forward from the hindend, I tap a rump with the whip until I get the forward I asked for. I stop, praise, and repeat. It may take 2 times, it might take 10, and in the case of one two year old TB, it took 77. ;) The important thing is that the lesson is repeated until he moves off your leg alone the first time. Then praise generously. This is the first thing I work on in warm up with my guys every ride. And I almost never have to repeat it. Frees my leg up to do other things! :)
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~And He created the horse and said to it, "I have made thee without equal."~
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post #5 of 11 Old 10-17-2016, 12:27 PM
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- See if you can get a pair of half chaps to give you a little more grip with your lower leg, you won't get pinched by the stirrup leathers either.

- The saddle looks like it is probably not a great fit for you on this horse, with a horse that's high in the hind-end I like a saddle that has some padding in the knee roll up front to help lock your leg in place, especially as a beginner. You look like you are being thrown forward out of the tack and your leg is not strong enough at the moment to help hold yourself still. I would suggest trying out some other saddles first off, it can take a while to find a perfect fit for you and the horse don't be afraid of that.

- Because you are being tossed forward you are riding off your knee instead of your calf so you are creating a pivot point for yourself that will make you even more unsteady and make your leg ineffective. You should be able to see in these pics that your calf is nowhere near his barrel which is where it needs to be.

- You need to spend a lot of time on a lunge line with your hands on your hips so you cannot use his mouth to balance yourself and you will be forced to figure where to put your leg to hold yourself up. In addition to the lunge line you should spend a good portion of your time riding without stirrups, people are so often afraid of this when they first start but it will build your muscles and your balance up faster than anything else. Beginners often end up using the reins and stirrups as crutches and it takes a long time to break those habits, better to create a solid seat first and earn back your stirrups and reins.

Bonne chance!
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post #6 of 11 Old 10-17-2016, 01:39 PM
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You don't look that bad, a bit stiff & over trying maybe but holy cow you have the bit tight! It's half way up his face.
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post #7 of 11 Old 10-17-2016, 02:24 PM
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I think a lot of your difficulty is the saddle fit is not right; neither for you, and likely not for him either.

he is VERY downhill in build, and it's only natural that as you sit on a downhill horse, you feel the need to lean back to keep yourself from falling foward. if you lean your upper body back, you will also need to keep your lower leg too far back, to keep from just tipping over backward. it is the opposite of what happens when the saddle is too high in front; the chair seat. in a chair seat, the person leans foward to counteract the feelig that they are riding up a hill all the time (sometimes due to a saddle that is too narrow in front and is riding up on the horse's shoulders . ouch!) when the person angles the upper body forward, they must also bring their leg forward to stay in this odd balance.

my guess is that that saddle is a bad fit for Baloo. it is probably too wide in front and is falling 'into' the dips behind his withers. also, I think it is too small for you, and has a too straight of line of the flap.

I suggest gettting a saddle fitter to get you a better saddle that works for him and for you. it will cost you, but in the long run will be money well invested. in time, Baloo will fill out and with good riding, he will learn to engage his hind end and this will bring up his front a bit and make him a more comfortable ride.
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post #8 of 11 Old 10-17-2016, 05:38 PM
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I'd reccomend you stick to the walk and work on just your position. Seven years is a long time and you have lost any muscle memory you had. If you have an arena let him have a long rein and just wander while you focus on yourself.

Bring your knees up together in front of the saddle to correct your seat, feel what it does to the curve in your lower back. Drop those legs and reach them down, feeling the fat of his barrel on your calf. Swing your legs back and forth from the hip to stretch out your hip flexors (this will hurt!). Let's your shoulders and arms relax and move with him, even though you don't have any contact with the bit. Hand down on his neck. Close your eyes for a few strides and feel him move and your balance on him.

Do you have an instructor or can you get one? Lunge lessons are invaluable, general lessons are great too. Especially since your horse is so young, you do not want to be teaching him bad habits(or any more. He's already learned to brace against the hand based on those pictures).
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post #9 of 11 Old 10-17-2016, 06:33 PM
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I agree with Tiny in that it looks like your saddle is a very poor fit for you. I would venture that it looks like a size appropriate for a young child. If you were to sit in proper position, the flap would be far behind your knee.

Is the horse sensible enough to ride bareback and do you have a safe area (arena, roundpen) to do it? For the time being, until you can get into your lessons and get a saddle that fits you correctly, what I would do is spend a great deal of time riding bareback at a walk. Straighten your back and let your legs fall straight down from your hips, remembering to keep your heels down (though some people find it easier to do this by actually focusing on keeping their toes up, if I try to push my heels down, I often find myself bracing my leg and losing fluidity through my hips and lower back).
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post #10 of 11 Old 10-18-2016, 04:06 PM
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If you can persuade yourself to stop riding with a hollow back/forcing your chest out and just sit up in a nice relaxed position a lot of your other problems will go away
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Just winging it is not a plan
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