Leg Position, Stirrup Length and Trail Riding - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 85 Old 04-04-2019, 09:47 AM Thread Starter
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Leg Position, Stirrup Length and Trail Riding

This is a long story but I want to talk about riding posture/position in the saddle, and stirrup/feet placement and a little bit of trail riding.... I have questions but itís also something Iím a little bit fascinated with at the moment. I had my first experience going up and down part of a trail yesterday and it was eye-opening.

I started riding lessons last week. The first session was mainly getting to know each other, for the owners (a husband and wife pair) to get a view of my skill level, and I rode a mustang named Hoss in their round pen. Yesterday I had a longer session in the round pen with the wife giving me some of my first real instructionÖ mainly a lot about keeping my feet forward and heels down and signals to give the horse to move; in circles, figure 8ís, backing up, etc.

Now, the feet forward part was what I didnít understand. The way she was describing it to me, and where she would physically place my foot to show me how to hold my legs felt physically wrong. (Note that I am a complete novice and nothing feels ďrightĒ yet anyway.) I am learning in a western style saddle; the stirrups face sideways instead of forward and I felt like I was fighting the fenders to keep my feet forward, especially as far forward as the owner was instructing me to. I was confused because the bulk of what I have read online talks about keeping alignment with your shoulder, hip and heel and I felt like what I was being asked to do was extending my feet way forward of this aligned position. (Although to be fair, it may also really just have FELT that way. I know that when you are teaching your body something new it can often feel much more awkward than it looks and Iím not able to get a side view of my own body, so my feet may not really have been as far forward as they felt.)

I am still trying to understand how long my stirrups should be. At a relaxed position the stirrups felt right, but once I was attempting to keep my leg in the position the owner asked me to and pushing my legs forward, it almost felt like I was trying to lift myself off the saddle. However, when Hoss would stop and resist moving forward and I would bend my legs back in to touch him and urge him forward, my foot would repetitively slip out of the stirrup after having to ask him multiple times to move. Perhaps I was not putting enough pressure on the ball of my foot to keep it in the stirrup? Could it also be that the saddle seat itself is too small for me? (When trying to keep my legs forward it also felt a little like I was sliding my butt up the back of the saddle.) The owners have said we will try the different saddles they own and try my own saddle as well so I can get a feel for what is most comfortable for me, but I donít feel like I will be able to tell much about which kind of saddle is my favorite until I learn to sit correctly.

Toward the end of our session, she asked if I would be comfortable if she just led me up part of the trail behind their home and back down and I agreed. During my first meeting with them, the owners asked me what my goals were etc. and the ultimate goal is to be able to trail ride confidently with my own mare. So she wanted to show me what that would be like and said it would also be a good way to help me understand how to use my legs and feet. Her husband actually came out to lead me while the wife ended up riding her horse with one of their kids on a little kiddie seat attached to the back of her saddle (which was pretty adorable.)

The path was nice but fairly steep and going up was the easy part. Coming back down I could really feel what they were trying to say about keeping my feet forward to keep my balance and made me really feel like the stirrups were too short because I was having problems pushing my feet forward to keep from rocking forward in the saddle. I know itís not good to hold onto the saddle horn, but I had my left hand braced against the horn almost all the way down not so much ďclingingĒ but actively pushing my upper body back to keep gravity from pulling me forward and leaning over the saddle.

Anyway, this brought to my attention that perhaps the riding positions for different activities may be slightly different. And how do I figure out what length on the stirrups is best for the length of my legs? Does this sensation of a position feeling physically impossible sound familiar to anyone else from their early days of learning?

I also remember at some point seeing a member on the forum talking about how to turn a set of western stirrups and now I think I understand why. Iíve also noticed as I browse saddles that often times trail saddles, especially if they are not specifically Western style, seem to have more forward facing stirrups. Not that I am ready to go saddle hunting yet, it would just be interesting to hear some thoughts on specifically designed trail saddles vs. traditional western saddles. I will have to practice more to be sure but I think on my own saddle I donít fight with the fenders quite as much because they are some kind of synthetic material and not full leather, so they may not be as heavy and still to turn.

I am also considering starting to do leg and core exercises just to strengthen muscles in my leg and abdomen that clearly need some work. Has anyone ever tried this and does it help with riding? Either way I suppose it couldnít hurt for me to try to be a little more physically fit.

Like I said at the beginning this is a looong post. But I would be interested to hear the general thoughts of others on the leg and seat position thing and what they do to improve their position and balance and adjust their tack correctly.
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post #2 of 85 Old 04-04-2019, 10:14 AM
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I like to think of stirrups as ABS: It's nice if they are there if you lose lateral balance, but there's also a chance you can lose them on a ride at whatever pace, and you should not feel as though you can't stay on the horse without them.

I ride in an English saddle, mostly on trails, including up and down ravines. Downhill, I don't lean back so much as continue to stay vertical over the horse's center of gravity. As the horse is tilted downwards, yes, relative to the horse's back I'm tilted backwards, but not with respect to gravity. I keep myself from sliding over the horse's neck by pressing the inside of my thighs against the saddle pads, but I keep my pressure on the stirrups light. Stirrups give you zero support to stay in the saddle if the horse starts sliding or speeds up a little towards the bottom of the hill.

As for stirrup length: A bit shorter is easier for posting the trot, a bit longer is easier for cantering. I had an endurance rider tell me that they actually adjust stirrups on the fly (while moving) depending on what they expect to be doing for a while next: One hole longer for a flat canter stretch, one hole shorter for trotting or jumping. You should definitely play around with different options to get a feel for what makes you feel the most confident.

I don't know if you can do that in a Western saddle equipped with a liver puncturing device (a.k.a. horn), but when my horse goes up a hill, I get off his back into two-point, so he can find it easier to step under himself. It's also an excellent strengthening exercise if you do that for several minutes. I do this for all gaits.

If, as you say, you just started lessons, some of the issues you face are not a matter of being shown what to do, but being able to do it by virtue of your core and leg strength. That's something that'll develop more slowly than your understanding of how to do it correctly.

In any case, riding is a biomechanical and physics exercise. Don't listen to what it is supposed to "look like" if it contradicts basic physical principles. In particular, you want to find a body position that requires minimal sustained muscular effort to maintain - that's where you are in balance, and that's where you can relax the most muscle groups to actively stay with the horse as it moves. Your contact with the horse should be as close to your own center of gravity as possible: it's easier to keep a broom steady if you support it at the balance point rather than the end of the handle. So you want to support your body in the saddle with your butt and thighs, not your feet or hands.

Anyway, I'm just shooting from the hip with this...maybe it'll give you something to contemplate.
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post #3 of 85 Old 04-04-2019, 10:25 AM
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Stirrup length is largely a personal preference, though it can somewhat be influenced by the discipline you ride. (Think forward (hunt) seat versus dressage seat.). Though I tend to prefer western tack when I ride, the seat I've developed over the years is sort of a modified dressage seat. Long stirrups, shoulder - hip - heel alignment.

The way I was taught, way back when, to measure my stirrup length has stood the test of time. Extend your arm fully with your fingertips touching the saddle where the leathers attach to the tree. Being the stirrup up to your armpit. Adjust it until the bottom of the stirrup touches your armpit. That's your baseline. Ride around to get the feel for it, then adjust up or down to suit you.

Hard to say about the feet forward thing. The instructor could be trying to teach you what is called a chair seat, sitting with your heels forward of your hips as though sitting in a chair. I'm not sure of the value of it, other than many people seem to prefer it for comfort reasons. Feet forward is also a defensive position some (often self taught) western riders use when riding hot, unpredictable horses. Wouldn't hurt to ask why she wants your feet forward.

Finding your own secure seat will involve experimentation and time.

Hope that helps some.
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post #4 of 85 Old 04-04-2019, 11:02 AM
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I wrote near a book...sorry.
This is going to read crazy as I answered a little here, a little there...
I'll help answer some things, others will have far better, simpler a explanation than I ...

Saddle sizing varies from manufacturer to manufacturer in "twist" of the tree...that is how wide, how deep the tree can position your body.
Like the old story about porridge...well, saddles are much the same...it takes trying out several to find "just right" a fit for your anatomy.

Adding the fit of the saddle to the horse and the horses balanced movement with yours is a huge other topic for another day.
Some saddles the stirrups are positioned in different locations, in effect changing how you sit, feel and fit in that saddle. You have to find what is comfortable for you and puts you in a balanced position that is comfortable for you and for your horse.
The length of your leg is going to be dictated some by the "twist" of that saddle...narrower allows your leg to hang further down because your pelvis and hips are not strained trying to reach around a unyielding saddle tree...
Some people are more flexible than others and that can also effect leg position and length achieved.
I've been told all my life "heels down" but honestly, heels level and steady is more realistic for most riders to achieve without pain to our anatomy.
Fighting a saddle that doesn't have turned stirrups is painful to ride after a while...yes indeed, a broom handle used for turning while wetting the leather helps reduce intense knee pain and struggle.
I was told that 4 fingers in front of your pelvic area is often a good fit in a western saddle, that needs tweaking to rider preference of tight or looser a fit and how the seat is actually designed for you to sit in it.
You should not be braced against the saddle cantle but able to gently slide your hand between you and the cantle almost to the bottom of your buttocks puts you in the deepest part of the saddle "pocket".
When you sit on any hard surface you should be sitting on your seat bones...find the bony bones toward the bottom of you cushioned tush...that is what you communicate with when using your seat.
You don't sit on the fat of your butt, but on the bottom of that fat pad of our anatomy...the seat bones.
When you place your leg on the saddle, any excess thigh fat/flab/muscle is pulled back by your hand so the flat of your inner thing is what lies against the saddle...is the only way I can describe that...that is true for English or western riders...this helps to actually not ride from the back of your leg but from the inner thigh and calf muscle helping you to maintain close contact and feel with the horse. You kind of roll/slide your leg into the proper placement leaving the "excess" more behind and using the flat of the inside of your thigh/femur...
Toes...no ones toes point forwards unless you are forcing them, period.
Look at how you stand and walk naturally...
Walk in soft sand and look at how your footprints are seen, this is how your hips, knees and ankles are aligned and support your body...it should follow suit when you ride or you can be in bad pain insisting on unnatural alignment.
Only people that walk with a perfect straight foot either went through years of walking lessons or had surgery to straighten their anatomy. The body must have some slight angle outward or it can not support your balance points either.
Do not over-arch your spine as many do when new and learning to ride...ride with your shoulders squared, back softly erect and straight, hips squared/aligned to the shoulders...now remember each body is unique and this is where we find out which leg is longer, which shoulder is slightly dropped, whose spine is slightly curved...it all works together in harmony though when you use not abuse the body to find balance astride, natural balance not something forced.
Your lower back and hips will roll and rock with horses movement...it is your shock absorber...don't force it or riding is not Cadillac comfy but Army tank jarring...
The sensations you have is your body starting to learn muscle memory...being repeatedly placed in a certain position teaches...no different than holding a pen or typing on a keyboard, muscle memory.
Yes, you tensing and not bending your knee is going to set you off the saddle...in time you will learn to start posting...more muscle memory but then where you now felt pushed you will be looking from the push up to control the downward motion.
You loosing your stirrup when you moved your leg back is because you closed the angle of your hip...you pulled your legs up and inward protecting your groin from the stretching of ligaments there you will suddenly find you have and never knew about before...your description though makes me think the saddle is to wide between your legs and uncomfortable for your particular anatomy.
Keeping in balance with the horse as it goes up a slope or descends...you lean forward at the hip or you lean back at the hip. Your legs will also follow some of that motion to keep your body in batter align...going up your feet naturally go back some, coming down your feet will naturally go in front of you...you're actually naturally bracing yourself some both directions...
It is overwhelming how much there is to learn when starting out...
Not pushing so much so fast is a help so understanding can start when you do as told and can feel what you are being told to do suddenly starts happening together....muscle memory.
You asked about core and leg exercises...yes, it would help as would building up stamina cause riding is hard work.
Those that ride work...those that are a passenger don't work anywhere near as hard to be a partner with their horse...fact.

I think I touched a little on a lot of things you asked about...
Learning to ride is a wonderful activity...
Learning to work as a partner with your mount is a lifelong dream of many of us...one you are just beginning to travel toward...

Enjoy the journey.

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #5 of 85 Old 04-04-2019, 11:06 AM
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Quick question - do you mean trail riding, as in going out on trails, in the woods or a grassland, and riding over hills and dale, through forest and creek and down into ravines and washes, and such, or do you mean arena type trail riding show class?

(Disclaimer: I trail ride. As in go camping with my horses and friends and their horses, and we stay gone in the woods three and four hours a day, twice a day, for three and four days at a whack.)

When I started riding in my adult life, I wanted the stirrups almost horse jockey short, on a western saddle. I was putting all my weight into my feet (Which is why I got a LOT of foot, leg, and butt cramps at unfortunate times - like at a trot). When I stood up in the stirrups, you could see 6 or 7" of sunlight between my straddle and the seat. It took repeatedly almost bouncing out of the saddle at a mere trot to figure out A. I sucked, B. It would help if I had a deeper seat, C. I had to stop putting my full weight on the balls of my feet 100% of the time I was in the saddle. It was exhausting to ride like that.

It may be the wrong way, but the way I figured out my stirrup length was to stand up in them. If I was standing so tall I felt like I'd pitch forward, I lengthened them. (I still have horrible balance, but it was so bad when I started I couldn't lean down and put my right foot in the stirrup by grabbing the fender and moving it without almost falling off on that side).

Over the last few years, I've lost the need to feel like I have to put all my weight into my feet. It's in my seat, stirrups are there if I need them. If I lose one on the trail - and it happens, horses sometimes get too close to some brush or a tree trunk to avoid bad footing, and your foot gets knocked out of the stirrup - I don't feel like I'm going to panic or fall off if I can't immediately get Trigger shut down and get my foot back in. I just ride without it for a little while.

Now my leathers are almost out to the last hole, they're out so long. When I stand up, I have about an inch of clearance, maybe a little less.

I saw where it was asked about doing the two point position on a climb when trail riding in a western saddle - I think it's possible. I ride in a barrel saddle, but it has a lower horn, not even as tall as the palm of my hand is wide, and I have small hands. The swells on it would be perfect for a two point. I think you'd just want a shorter horn. I know when Trigger climbs, I lean up, take off as much weight as I can but I still have to trust him and trust my saddle - the back will catch your butt like a bucket if the angle of the climb is so steep you feel yourself slide back. I have had to lean so far forward to help him out, I've been down on his neck, almost in his mane. I used to worry I'd slide off backwards but again - I had to learn to trust my horse and trust my saddle.

Leg position: I was terrible about this, now I preach it.

Your heels should be down, though not exaggeratedly so (When you point your toes down, you lose your seat and your balance and that's when people fall off). Edited to reflect HLG's post above - level is okay too, or just a slight drop in the heels. You don't have to have your foot at a 45 degree angle, just level or slightly lower in the heels) Stirrup bed should be just behind the ball of your feet, but not jammed into the arch. Balls of the feet on the stirrup bed are also fine. Your heels, your hips, your shoulders, and your ears, should all be in alignment, though you should be relaxed, not rigid, in the saddle. Butt must stay in the center of the saddle, and the saddle must stay in the center of the horse's back.

(Imagine if you ride ATVs much - you know how you lean forward or even sometimes stand up and lean forward, climbing out of a creek bed? How you have to keep the weight centered, or you pull it over on yourself when you turn or climb, and how you have to lean back going down a slope so it doesn't come over on top of you - it's a bit like that. Help your horse as much as you can so you don't pull him over)

I watched a kid that rides with us figure out the off billet had snapped on a saddle, while he was riding my husband's mare Gina.

It had been like that for 5 minutes before we were able to get out of a boggy area, pull a nightlatch off my saddle (Just a thick, long, leather dog collar, really) and make a makeshift off billet. He rode just fine with no front girth - it was dangling and dragging in the mud, for 5 minutes, in a bog area that had our horses in mud over their knees, almost to the bellies, because he stays centered in the seat, because he naturally kept the saddle from rolling because he stayed centered.

I saw a barrel racer fall off and get stomped this weekend because her off billet broke on her first run out, before she hit her first turn, and it was because she wasn't centered up (This may be because she was anticipating that first turn and was already leaning into it though, so I won't criticize too much - I was just glad she was able to get up, walk it off and make her next run with no injuries).

If you're going DOWN a steep slope (Sometimes you'll think you're the Man from Snowy River and it. is. awesome), you lean back, use the stirrups, but have them pushed out in front - how far in front depends on how steep the downward slope. Imagine yourself walking down that same slope... you'd want to remain upright and perpendicular to the ground. Same thing in a saddle. Lean backward or forward accordingly to help out your horse.

Uhm. The fender position - are you meaning you're having trouble with the fenders not turning? As in, you feel like you're fighting this thick, problematic, sheet of leather attached to the actual stirrup leather? If so - I did the same thing at first. Some of it was the saddle I rode hadn't been used enough to be really broke in. The stirrups hadn't 'turned' yet. When you put it on a stand, they didn't turn toward the front, they hung at a side view. You can slip a broom stick in the stirrups when it's not in use, and it will slowly, over time, turn the stirrups to be more forward facing. Good leather, broken in right, will also turn and be much more flexible. Sometimes you'll find you don't even have to lean down, turn the stirrup, to get your right foot in. The stirrup is already right were it needs to be.

As a beginner though, the whole stirrup thing exhausted me. Between putting my whole weight into my feet, and feeling like I was fighting the fender, it just wore me out.

All that will change as time goes by and your body adapts to the different positions from English to Western.

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Last edited by AtokaGhosthorse; 04-04-2019 at 11:18 AM.
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post #6 of 85 Old 04-04-2019, 11:54 AM
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I vary between 3 stirrup lengths, although I mostly use the Momma Bear or Poppa Bear settings. Shorter is nice for getting off the horse's back, but longer keeps my legs wrapped around more horse - useful if things get exciting. At the Poppa Bear setting, keeping the stirrups on my feet can be a challenge. Therefor:

Where to put my feet in the stirrups? I've settled on this test: When I climb a ladder, where do I put my feet on the rungs of the ladder? That is my best balance/grip point, and where I want my stirrup. It is deeper into the stirrup than most say, but not all the way in to the heel. "Ball of foot" makes it too easy for my foot to slide out. The "home" position, solidly against the heel of the boot, robs me of the flexibility of my ankle. But when I climb a ladder, no one needs to tell me where to put my foot. I just know. That then works well for me in a saddle.

Body position:

E & F are balanced positions for many activities, assuming a well mannered horse. If your horse may shy away or is nervous or might buck, then G is an excellent defensive position. It is good for many bolts or on a resisting horse. H is a fantastic way to fall. So which do I use? All three, normally, over the course of a trail ride!

1880 and a traditional Texas cowboy approach:

From a thread nearly 3,000 days old...

Originally Posted by xxBarry Godden View Post
Years ago I was taught to ride 'Western' by an old, bent bow legged Canadian cowboy who had been involved with horses since he was a kid. In the 1930s he had been a winning rodeo rider. By the time I met him he had formed a Western riding club in Surrey, where anyone who rode horses used the English hunting seat. Kennie's first job with new members was to teach them how to ride Western on his Western schooled horses.

The first lesson was to adjust the stirrups so that the leg was carried almost straight. Enough bend was left in the knee to just lift the butt off the seat of the saddle even at the trot.

The second lesson was to learn to ride with signficant weight carried on the stirrups at all times.

The third lesson was to move with the horse, if it leant over, then lean with it. The rider sat upright and straight using the feet to compensate and resist the forces of gravity and movement by pressing down on the stirrups - which were almost being used as 'pedals'.

The rider leaned with the horse - if the horse went to the right at speed then the rider would lean over with the horse into the bend.

We always were to ride on a loose rein held in one hand only. The bits were all Western lever bits and we were told never to ride collected as the potential for accidental pressure on the horse's jaw was too great.

When we trotted - which was usually on level tarmac - we always posted.

If the weight was held on the stirrups, then the rider could not rise too high so long as the stirrups had been adjusted correctly for Western. The knee joint took the strain of rising to the trot.

The riding technique as described above was regarded as almost heresy by regular English riders trained by the British Horse Society. But it worked. My horse would accept being ridden English or Western...
I've used the "Old West" or "Harley" position many times. Putting my feet forward brings my center of gravity forward. Not only does it NOT put weight on the rear of the saddle, it actually shifts weight more on to my thighs - assuming my stirrups are adjusted the way Barry Godden said! If the stirrups are just a little shorter than what Barry Godden wrote, doing this will suck big time. It works for the Poppa Bear setting. It is adequate at the Momma Bear setting and a total failure at my Baby Bear setting.

BTW - I can still "stand in the stirrups" at the Poppa Bear setting. Doing so has all my weight in my stirrups and in my thighs, but my rump is barely above the saddle. Also - I want my weight to flow uninterrupted past my knees and into the stirrup. Gripping with the knee is a good way to find one using position H...

The "Harley" position is a surprisingly stable position. I like it when my horse is nervous or when we are covering rough ground and I want to pay attention to something else - like the riders behind me or which way to go next. If I am too busy to try to match my horse's balance, then it at least allows me to be stable while he crosses small gullies as I look elsewhere. I find it too tiring to use for more than 5 minutes at a time.

When someone who has never ridden before goes on a trail ride with us, I tell them to use that position as they start out. "Within a few minutes," I tell them, "you will want to relax. Do so. But if something feels like it is getting too intense, revert back to it, hold the horn with one hand and give the horse a lot of slack." My horses are not bolters - not the ones I own now - and it works well for a new rider when our BLM mustang pony decides to trot across a section of ground we lead the other horses across...

PS: I agree with the US Cavalry about going down a steep slope. I like to use a forward seat (F) and try to have my center of gravity going directly behind his front leg. Lots of folks disagree, but it works for me. But I'm way too old to want to go down any slopes as steep as they used:

Another picture here: http://www.triplecreekfarmpa.com/ima...SlideSmall.JPG

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"

Last edited by bsms; 04-04-2019 at 12:11 PM.
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post #7 of 85 Old 04-04-2019, 12:09 PM
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Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Any chance you can post pictures of you in the saddle with your legs where the instructor is wanting them?
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post #8 of 85 Old 04-04-2019, 05:44 PM
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I'm going to step on a lot of toes, here. The heels down position is probably the biggest myth in the horseback riding world. To me, it's all about balance and the heels down position does nothing for balance as far as I have been able to determine. I'll add that I've always been an athletic individual, who has played many different sports. I like my stirrups just a little shorter than my legs, so that there is a slight bend to my knees. Also, I find that a saddle with a flat seat, something like a charro saddle, or a McClellan saddle, will teach a lot about balance.
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post #9 of 85 Old 04-04-2019, 08:12 PM
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It does depend on saddle type, balance, rider preference, whether you're riding down a hill... etc. But generally you should be in a position that your feet are directly under your centre of gravity, or a little in front but not by much.

Aussie stock saddles & Western saddles do tend to put people in more of a 'chair seat', and I do also remember when I was young & working at a trail riding co, the mantra was telling people 'feet forward, heels down' & when I questioned my boss on this, he said that we emphasise & exaggerate that, because beginners naturally tend to do the opposite, and being too forward or down at the heel was safer than the opposite.

You should be able to sit & ride comfortably, relaxed, without a lot of 'putting pressure' on various bits, regarding balance, feet in stirrups, leg position. While it may take a bit to 'get the hang', if your feet are continually slipping from the stirrups, you're finding it physically hard or uncomfortable to keep in place, then something's not right. Regarding the stirrups facing out, the easiest way I reckon of fixing this is to give the strap of the fender a half twist before you do up the buckles - makes the stirrups point forward, so your leg isn't being tweaked.

And some like riding with shorter legs, some longer. I personally used to like a bit shorter, but then I hurt my knee, and found that a dressage saddle with long leathers - basically my legs are as they would be without stirrups, but toes slightly raised, is the most comfortable and well balanced position for me these days - I put virtually no pressure on the stirrups, they're just, as BSMS put it, an 'ABS' system.
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post #10 of 85 Old 04-05-2019, 08:32 AM Thread Starter
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Ugh, I had most of this typed out yesterday during break but then break got cut short and I didnít have time to post again. Thank you for all the great responses! Iím going to try to address specific bits and questions by tagging some members:

@Cordillera Cowboy I will have to try the arm/stirrup measuring thing! So far my stirrups have been adjusted for me; I think this weekend I really need to get back in my own saddle on Dreama and try to keep a better position and work on adjusting the stirrups and trying how the feel.

To quote a bit out of what bsms mentioned from an old thread:

ďThe rider sat upright and straight using the feet to compensate and resist the forces of gravity and movement by pressing down on the stirrups - which were almost being used as 'pedals'.Ē

I think this is part of how she was telling me to use my feet although she didnít say it exactly like this. To me, the position she was asking for looked a lot like position G in the illustration bsms showed. The husband of the pair is the horse trainer and I think he is the one who has taught the wife to ride over the years. I donít have full history on him yet but from what he has talked about I think that he had done some fairly extreme sporting when he was a bit younger and it may be part of how he adapted over rough terrain, breaking his own horses to ride, etc. He pointed out a few times that my leg position was to brace me for the movement of a horse in cases of sudden movement. (Not that I am too worried about that with the lesson horse, Hoss. It would be a true accident/emergency if he turned suddenly or bolted. He seems very steady.) I think, even though I donít understand everything yet, that in their own way they are trying to prep me both for riding on uneven terrain and also for the fact that my own mare isnít as ďslow and steadyĒ as Hoss.

@horselovinguy I appreciate books donít apologize! I think hearing different riderís explanations of things until something clicks is really helpful. Your description of why I keep loosing my stirrup makes sense I thinkÖ Iím not sure about the width of the saddle; Iíve only tried three saddles so far and this has been a consistent problem in each so it may just be the way Iím moving.

@AtokaGhosthorse I do mean trail riding as in going out on trails in the woods, etc. I donít have any plans to do any arena type showing currently. Eventually as I improve if my Aunt is still participating in them, I would like to be able to do some of the small local ďfun showsĒ with her, but these are pretty casual with different small classes for a variety of styles and skill levels. Thatís not what Iím focused on though, my end goal is to be going out on trails. I would love to get to the point that I could go out camping with other horse riders on trails!

Yes, even though the saddle I was in was one that has been used a lot by the owners, I still felt as if I was fighting that sheet of leather attached to the stirrup and the stirrup not turning. But at this point all that could be either A. because I had the stirrups adjusted too short or B. just because my legs are weak and getting used to a new activity.

@bsms That is a very helpful body position description and explanation from that old post that I think helps me understand where my new riding instructors are coming from. And those are amazing pics of the US Cavalry horsemen. I think Iíve seen the first one before but forgotten about it.

@Whinnie It feels and looks to me currently like the instructors are asking for something like position g from the illustration bsms shared above, except maybe a little less exaggerated on the forwardness of the feet. But maybe it just feels that way to me because everything is still new and awkward and my feet really are not that far forward? I will try to see if mom can help me get a photo on my own mare this weekend.

@loosie I do know from photos Iíve seen of myself when I first started working on my mare that I definitely have the tendency to lean forward in a really bad position for riding (more like position h. from the illustration bsms shared) and I know that is a really easy way to fall but it seems like a natural instinct. So some of the instructorís emphasis on feet forward may be exactly that, an over exaggeration to try to keep me from inadvertently hurting myself.

"I am the one thing in life I can control. I am inimitable I am an original. Iím not falling behind or running late. Iím not standing still I am lying in wait." - Wait For It
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