How to Improve Balance? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 09-10-2019, 10:46 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Canada
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How to Improve Balance?

Hey guys. So I'm having some issues with riding and I'd like to hear how guys have dealt with similar experiences.

Basically, my current issue is that for some reason, I cannot balance at the trot. What this ends up looking like is my legs occassionally pushing more forward or backward instead of under me, I lean to far forward or back at times, and in general am out of rythem with my horse. Even doing a sitting trot, I bounce. This in turn, makes the horse confused and uncomfortable so he then goes faster or wants to go back down to walking.

This feels very odd to me as in the past, I've never had issues with trotting. In fact, it was the main pace I'd ever ride and preferred it. I have never been as out of balance as I am now and am looking to find out what I can do to help this or what could potentially be causing it.

Now, one thing I did was record my last ride to analyze everything better. When I slowed things down and zoomed in a bit (camera was set up at a bit of distance), I realized it looks like the saddle I'm using throws me into a bit of an armchair type position. It's not overly obvious hence why I didn't notice it sooner, but now I can see how my feet are held further forward than what they should be which could be part of the reason for being off balance. I do have another saddle which I haven't really used yet as it's new, but I plan to try to that next and hope it works better.

I'm also wondering if the fact my guy is bigger than any other I've ridden before affects me too. I've ridden 14 hh horses for the most part over the last couple of years and this guy is 16.1 hh so his stride is bigger.

But anyways, what do you guys do to improve your balance? And any other suggestions as to why my balance would suddenly be so bad when less than a year ago I could ride a trot without issue?

SummerBliss is offline  
post #2 of 15 Old 09-10-2019, 11:11 PM
Join Date: Mar 2017
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Do you have the same problem if you ditch your stirrups?

Is this the same saddle you felt balanced in before, or a different one?

I'd do lots of no-stirrups work, and also definitely try the other saddle. The saddle could very much be the problem -- but if that's the case then, in the meantime, the no-stirrups work would be extra beneficial because at least you wouldn't be also fighting against the stirrup placement!
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post #3 of 15 Old 09-11-2019, 01:33 AM
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dif saddle / dif horse . . . can make all the difference in the world.

I am in a new saddle (well, it's been my saddle for one year now) and it makes it much harder for me to keep my balance at the trot than the old one. It has to do with the twist being wider and the stirrup bar being positioned a tiny bit further in front of where I am used to.

post photos of the saddle on this horse, tacked up like normal, horse on flat ground. Then, video of your ride. that will help with suggestions.
tinyliny is offline  
post #4 of 15 Old 09-11-2019, 06:06 AM
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How a saddle causes a rider to sit can certainly be a factor. The size, conformation, and movement of the horse also comes into play.

Ideally, a saddle should allow a rider to sit in its deepest area halfway between the front and rear. Be aware that a horse’s build can influence the tilt of a saddle. The stirrups should hang so a rider’s feet are positioned naturally below the hips – think head over shoulders over hips over heels.

If the saddle is a problem, a different saddle may be the best answer.

Releasing muscular tension is very important. Think of balancing your head over your spine rather than holding it their with muscular effort. Think of your weight being like sand in an hourglass. Allow gravity to pull it downward. This will allow your seat to settle deeply into the saddle, your legs to cling to the horse’s sides without muscular effort, the balls of your feet to rest on the stirrups without pushing, and your heels to drop lower than your toes.

A horse with straighter legs tends to have a choppier trot. A large horse tends to have greater forward movement.

When the horse’s movement is the major issue, the rider must concentrate more on releasing muscular tension to allow his or her body to move more easily to follow the horse’s movement. On a horse with a choppy trot, the rider may need to put a little extra weight in the stirrups and lighten the seat. Even so, the rider must not lock the joints of his hips, knees, ankles, or feet.

Skilled riders learn to alter the balance and movement of the horse to make the trot smoother.
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post #5 of 15 Old 09-11-2019, 11:14 AM
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Spend time riding while standing in the stirrups. It will get you in the habit of riding with your center of gravity above the stirrups. When you don't do that, your feet will slide around.

Stirrups do not "hold" your feet in a given position. I once measured the deepest spot of the saddle to my stirrup bars. My jump saddle differed from my western saddle and my Australian saddle and my all purpose 1 inch. Anyone can adjust their legs by one inch. When riding, your legs OUGHT to move forward or back more than that depending on what you are doing. BALANCE drives POSITION, although we always talk about position!

When your weight is above the stirrups, you will have a steady lower leg because there will be no forces moving it around. Either lean forward a little or pull your leg a little back. Standing in the stirrups while trotting, cantering, walking, turning, and doing transitions will make it instinctive to keep your feet under your weight.

FWIW, I find it easier to adjust my legs around when I have a little long stirrup.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #6 of 15 Old 09-11-2019, 11:59 AM
Green Broke
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To add to the good advice here, I found that as my core-strength built up, and as I began to engage my core for balance for day to day things, rather than relying on my legs or back, hands to grab things, etc, my balance has improved. The trot is the hardest thing for me because my horse is a very pacey, rough riding little dude, but I'm getting better.

I've recently bought a balance ball to put in my office chair and spend quite a bit of time picking my feet off the floor and working on balancing on the ball by engaging my core. You might try that yourself around the house if you don't have a desk jockey job like me. :P
MeditativeRider likes this.

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post #7 of 15 Old 09-11-2019, 01:50 PM
Green Broke
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It's funny, even before I got to the part about the new saddle, I thought, "this could be a saddle problem." Could you try with a different saddle and see? A saddle that doesn't fit you, or the horse, can completely throw you off balance!
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post #8 of 15 Old 09-11-2019, 05:17 PM
Join Date: Feb 2019
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I second the core strength suggestion. I find balance much easier when I really focus on working on my core strength off the horse. Daily core exercises for about 10 mins is my aim but I usually have 1 or 2 days off per week.

Also, as a beginner rider who does not own their own horse, I have ridden a lot of different horses with different saddles in lessons and on treks, and I find with each one that it takes a bit of time to find the right way to position my body to work with their structure/gait and the saddle. So it may not be something has drastically changed/gone wrong with your riding, it is just that it is different and it will take a while for you to adjust and get the mind/body connection to get your body in the "correct" place for your new setup.
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post #9 of 15 Old 09-11-2019, 06:27 PM
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Could you be bracing in the stirrups? I used to brace all the time and it's taken me years to learn to sort of melt into the saddle and not brace. If you brace you will definitely bounce. I am still guilty of that when I canter but have gotten pretty good at the trot. It's only taken me about 20 years.

trailhorserider is offline  
post #10 of 15 Old 09-11-2019, 09:08 PM
Join Date: Nov 2016
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You may want to have your ears checked. A few years ago I had an inner ear infection that affected my balance. I could hardly walk without staggering. Forget about getting on a horse.
Antibiotics cleared it right up.
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elkdog is offline  

balance issues , riding , thoroughbred , trotting

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