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Discussion Starter #1
So, since I've started riding, posting with stirrups has always been the hardest thing for me. I sit horses easily enough (and have been complimented often on my seat) but things go out the window when I post with stirrups. Take off my stirrups, and I can easily post (and sit, but that's not the problem).

Ever since I've got my new horse, my posting has gone down the drain. Part of it is that I'm still a little chicken and haven't ridden without stirrups with him, which usually kept me in check... But it's really beginning to affect my horse.

Problems are really in turning his shoulder. They are very stiff, especially going to the left. I know it's me. I've had a few people look at him and they're all pretty convinced it's a mental block of his. (and he's good in terms of chiro) So he has his thing and I'm not helping.

But then, if I sit him (which I don't like to do since he's still developing a topline), it's totally different. I barely have to use reins at all, he turns on a dime, uses his back beautifully and starts to swing. It's a huge difference and the thing that changes is whether I sit or not.

As I'm still searching for the right coach, I've been on my own these last few weeks... what can I do to help me with my posting? What exactly could I be doing wrong that it's so dramatic? I know that I learn forward a bit when I post, could that be enough for such a huge change?
 

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It sounds like your balance is poor when you're using stirrups while posting, or like you're depending on the stirrups instead of your leg to keep your seat. I also suspect that you may be leaning on your hands (reins) because you feel unbalanced. How about trying to post for only a couple of strides, then sit to recollect yourself, then post for a couple of strides, etc., until you find your balance. Also, if your horse trots really slow (jogs) or has an exceptionally smooth trot it can be very difficult to post to, and will just take practice and more practice. If you can have a friend video you while you try to post with stirrups, and then watch the video, you may be able to see what your problem is yourself. Or you could post the video and ask for help with a visual.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I don't actually feel unbalanced. I just know from looking at videos that I'm perching forward. Plus the whole horse-moves-completely-different thing lol.

It's just so frustrating. I'm pretty sure I'm bracing against the stirrups, since I post so much nicer and balanced when without stirrups, but I don't have anyone to lunge me on my horse so I can develop my confidence without stirrups on my horse so I fix this dang thing.

His trot is really nice to sit, but it's got some bounce to it. Much easier to post compared to the horse I leased before (who was so smooth it was hard. But that's why I did a TON of posting without stirrups, since it really helped)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Ok, don't have any videos uploaded with my horse, but I do a few older ones. I imagine the real underlying problem is there in all. But please keep in my mind my posting is actually worse now, sadly. Some things are better (my leg no longer turns out nearly as much, and my hip was misaligned and recently fixed) but yeah.


 

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In the second short video I can see that your knee looks locked. Instead of it openning and closing to creat the rise and fall of the posting motion, it is sliding (bent at the same angle, which doesn't open or close) down the saddle flap, then back, then down, then back, locked the whole time. When it slides down, your lower leg/ankle actually slides up and back.

You want to be acting a bit more like a series of folds openning and closing, like an Oriental fan. Your ankle is one fold, knee another and hip the third. They can open and close to raise you or lower you.

To do this, there must be downward thrust of energy, and you want t think of this as going out throught the bottom of your heel PAST the stirrup. Not TO the stirrup, but past it. Almost like the stirrup isn't there.

you have to have control of the openning and closing of the folds in the same manner you would if you were practicing this folding while standing on the ground.



In the first video, except for the pretty extreme turn out of your toes, I thought you rode better.

Does any of this make sense?
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
I feel like my problem is often that I understand the theory, and usually can feel where it goes wrong... but can't actually put it to action. (Before my hip was fixed, I could feel my seat bone sliding off the saddle, and try as I might, couldn't fix it but knew exactly where it was wrong).

But that's really an interesting way of looking at it that I hadn't thought of before. Huh! But wouldn't that possibly start creating too much movement through the lower leg?? I know that the ankle has to move to absorb the energy, but, hm. Interesting.
 

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I might not be the very best coach on this. I think you might be worrying too much. if you aren't rolling your foot out like that first vid, then you are probalby doing better than you think.

I always feel that if you can post over the horse completely without reins, this tells a lot for your balance. Whenever I think of that image of my heel going PAST the stirrup and kind of trying to connect to the horse's back feet, I feel myself get more solid and better able to absorb sudden changes in the horse's movement, less likely to be slung off sideways if he props or spooks. But, I have to keep working at is, as I tend to curl my toes down and try to grip the stirrup with my toes, which makes heels come up. know what I mean?
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
I don't have the flash drive with my videos, but I think I have a picture somewhere of an awful shot of my posting. Give me a few minutes...

I used to be able to post without reins. I often tested myself by tying my reins and doing the airplane-arms. Jumped without reins a few times, but I'm not really a jumper. I haven't done that with my new horse, though. I have a feeling I'd fail. =(

Like I said, although the toe turning out isn't as extreme anymore (it's still there, though) my general posting really has gotten worse than what the videos show. It's really disheartening to see myself progress backwards...

I'll try that image tomorrow. It'll make me think of something else anyways, since what I'm doing now isn't really working, haha.

EDIT:

Ok, here it is. =( How terrible: http://i1226.photobucket.com/albums/ee408/earthshadows/cap_me_bad.jpg

For those concerned, that was probably 1 1/2 months ago now. Although my posting is just as bad, I've been working hard on getting him using his back properly despite my shortcomings. Here's a screenshot of him recent-ish, and me in the sitting portion of my post: http://i1226.photobucket.com/albums/ee408/earthshadows/cap_fb_1.jpg
 

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I think you are being really hard on yourself for one. Could part of the problem be you are putting so much pressure on yourself and judging yourself so harshly that it is almost psyching yourself out?

I agree with the previous poster. It's like you are trying so hard not to move your lower leg that you are actually causing it to be stiff and slide back like if you were in a rocking chair. Your body moves forward and your legs slide back. Your leg is really really far back and that is what is causing all your problems. Has your trainer in the past told you to stop moving your lower leg? Because maybe like I said before you are trying and focusing too hard on keeping it still that you are tensing your calf muscles so much it's actually not allowing you to give but pushing it back.
 

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I think it'll come when you just... stop trying to dang hard.

Trust me, I ride better when I don't even THINK about what I should be doing. It just comes to me and my muscles are nice and relaxed in the end.

Just relax :)
 

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In the second video, most of the time that I froze it with your seat down, your heels were ahead of your belly. That means you would either need to lean forward to put your center of gravity over the stirrups (bad form for dressage) or you need too much forward motion to get your balance over the stirrup bars.

In this picture



your heels are further back & would probably be good if you were in the down position. However, you've moved too far forward and may be gripping with your knee. That puts you off balance and your feet then go back.

I agree with TL: "You want to be acting a bit more like a series of folds openning and closing, like an Oriental fan."

I don't do dressage at all. When I ride English, I ride a *******ized forward seat. I come a little closer to a dressage position when riding western, but I never ride in a true dressage position & I'm not an instructor or anything - so take this advice FWIW...

Make a conscious effort to put more distance between your knees. Get them loose. The motion isn't one of thrusting your hips forward. The horse's forward motion is what moves your hips forward and gives it that feel, but your center of gravity and balance on the horse shouldn't change.

I like to use this picture of Gen Patton for illustration purposes:



That isn't the sort of riding you do, but notice that his body is balanced over the stirrups. If his horse disappeared, he'd land on his feet with his weight balanced. A vertical line going up from his stirrups leaves half of his body on either side.

To do that with a reasonable vertical back, you need heels under hip and you need to unfold everything. To stay vertical, you need to uncoil your legs and body. While it feels like your hips are going forward, they only go forward as far as the horse's body moves forward under you, so that the heels / hip / shoulder stay balanced on a vertical line.

I don't try to stay vertical when I'm posting because I want my center of gravity further forward than dressage or western riding normally puts it. Nor am I any great shakes as a rider. But for ILLUSTRATION (including my faults):



To keep my back vertical (or anything close to it), my movement must be small - only enough forward to allow the horse to stay under me as he moves forward. If we were at a stand still, all my motion would be vertical. Since he's moving forward, I need to move forward with him - but only enough to match him. If I aggressively threw my hips forward, I'd hit the poleys...but I'd also go too far forward and get off balance.

This saddle puts my feet forward in a bit of a chair seat. I can either lean forward to balance, or accept that I'll be a bit behind the horse and unfold from there. If I wanted a vertical back while posting, I'd need a different start position in the saddle...otherwise being balanced gives me this:



It is OK to be a little behind the horse's motion. It is normal for many types of riding.

Also: saddle design. Saddles are designed for your rump to be in the deepest part of the saddle, and the stirrup straps to hang vertically. That uses gravity to keep your balance. Depending on what the saddle is designed to do, that may put your heels under your hip, or well forward. As a general rule, well forward is good if you want to fold up and go fast. Under hip is good for quick turns and weight off the shoulders. My saddles are like an AP saddle, and neither fish nor fowl. It is a compromise, and that compromises my position - but since I use one saddle for everything, that is OK.

Don't know if any of this helps. Hope it does. If it doesn't, ignore it.
 

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In this picture

In this picture, the rider is definitely pinching with their knees, causing their legs to swing back and leaning too far forward. Like way too forward. As in one good bump and you'd lose your balance, forward.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
So the general consensus is not try so hard? lol. I'm hard on myself, because, if not me, who will be? It's the least I can do for my horse, who tries so hard despite his confusing rider.

But I never really thought about it as each angle of my ankle, knee and hip opening/closing. I always thought of it being the hip closing/opening and the rest staying more or less the same, with the ankle absorbing the shock by being flexible. I'll be putting that to use.

In this picture, the rider is definitely pinching with their knees, causing their legs to swing back and leaning too far forward. Like way too forward. As in one good bump and you'd lose your balance, forward.
What can I do to help prevent this? I don't pinch at the walk, but I know it happens a lot in the trot. Like I said, I'm still looking for a coach so any ideas/ways of thinking help me a lot.
 

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What can I do to help prevent this? I don't pinch at the walk, but I know it happens a lot in the trot. Like I said, I'm still looking for a coach so any ideas/ways of thinking help me a lot.

my best advice to avoid pinching at the knees is that visual image of my weight going PAST the stirrup, and directing it toward the horse's back feet. I must really feel my heel drop a bit. if there is a little bit of bounce in my ankles, then I know for certain that my weight is going down past my knees, as it should.

One thing you can do while walking (though this might not help you so much since you are not having issues at the walk) is to sit your walk, as usual, then lift your toes up OFF the stirrup. So, you are still IN the stirrup but not pressing any weight into it at all. you will feel the weight in your seatbones increase. Be sure you do not tighten any muscle but the front of your shin, as required to lift the front of your foot/toes. Then, let your whole leg get "longer" so that your foot will reach the stirrup with your toes still up. the lengthening occurs in your hip and by relaxing the knee and letting the leg DOWN.

kind of a fun thing to do, and you can do it every few strides to help keep your seat bones ON and your leg DOWN. not sure how or if this will help at the trot, but it's fun and easy to do.
 

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Let gravity do it's thing. Let momentum do it's thing.

By trying.. you get in the way of those two "forces" and then that creates problems.
You do WORK when you ride, but not in the way you think. It's muscle memory as in once you understand to stretch your legs down, and once you figure out how to engage those muscles, it becomes second nature.

Your horse is working hard and trying but so are you. You just don't realize it.. but think back to the first time on a horse where you were wobbling all over the place and you could barely stay on at a walk. Now think ahead at your trotting. It's faster, the horse moves differently, and look how much better you stay on!

See ?

What can I do to help prevent this? I don't pinch at the walk, but I know it happens a lot in the trot. Like I said, I'm still looking for a coach so any ideas/ways of thinking help me a lot.
Relax! Think of the horse's momentum (as in their speed + thrust from the hinds) will push you up. Then gravity brings you back down. To avoid slamming down, don't brace (get tight in your body.)

You know when you walk and you can either walk with heavy feet, or light quick steps? You change the way you distribute your weight by engaging certain muscles.

Same thing with posting. Engaging those muscles will help you to softly come down. It takes time.. and if you're nervous about slamming on your bits then it takes longer. You just have to relax. Maybe have someone pop you on the lungeline and you can hold onto the horse's mane and just.. move up and down (don't stand then sit.. or push from the stirrups.. LET. IT. HAPPEN) with your horse.

Hope that helps a bit.
 

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The main thing is to let the horse bounce you up and down. But think of it as like getting up and sitting down in a chair. It might help if you did the motion on the ground to strengthen and work the muscles.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Lol, I usually lean forward and groan quite a bit when I get up from a chair, lol. My back is still fairly weak but is getting stronger. But I know what you mean hahaha.

Thanks everyone. I'll be working on it soon... sadly pony's pastern swelled a little so I've not been riding him. And now that I've finally found a good coach that I know will get to the bottom of this, I'm fairly happy. (but she suggests for now that I mostly sit the trot, and only post for short periods of time, as I sit well enough to continue Capataz's education)
 

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You stated "if I sit him (which I don't like to do since he's still developing a topline), it's totally different. I barely have to use reins at all, he turns on a dime, uses his back beautifully and starts to swing. It's a huge difference and the thing that changes is whether I sit or not."

I suggest you sit his trot if it's better than your posting. Sitting the tro will NOT stop him from developing a topline (if it did the GP dressage horses would all have bad toplines.)

Second I agree with previous posters (especially western rider). You leg below the knee is too far back. So start by standing in the stirrups (at the halt) then sit without doing anything more than bending your knee. The leg shouldn't move - have someone watch as you do this to ensure you leg doesn't move. Then relax your body, including your legs. Start walking periodically standing in the stirrups (grab mane if you need to for balance) to make certain your leg position remains correct. Once you can walk and retain the correct leg position start the sitting trot (since that's the better trotting position for you). Periodically do the same thing - stand and grab mane to ensure your lower legs stay in the proper position. Once you fix your legs at the sitting trot you can start re-introducing the rising trot.

To do this start at sitting trot with lower leg in correct position and periodically allow the horse to "bounce" you straight up into the posting position. Then allow your thighs to take the weight and lower your upper body back down to the saddle. If at any time you feel your lower leg get out of position AND/OR you feel "out of balance" immediately go back to sitting trot and fix the lower legs position.

The idea here is to re-learn muscle memory to fix your lower leg position. Once you fix that then you need to learn to allow horse to bounce you up for post then ease your body back to the saddle seat.

And one other thing - sometimes you need to start with a shorter stirrup leather length and get balanced with that length before you elongate the leather to the longer "dressage" length.

RELAX! That will also help (as would mirrors so you can see if you get out of position) and remember as you post up you open your elbows, and close the elbows as you sit to keep the reins steady and contact with the horses mouth steady.

Good luck - let us know how it goes. :D
 
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