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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Lately I am somewhat frustrated. I learned to ride on the horse of a friend (and I keep on taking lessons.) I also ride in a horse school on a riding... pony... They matched me up with a pony because he is old and docile and experienced. He is basically a good pony. But the problem is that I am very tall and so my feet hang far below the belly of the horse. They gave me spurs to ride, but I still have to literally lift my leg and feet for giving aids so I either lose my stirrups or my feet slide too far in it (when applying heel pressure not to lose the stirrup.) I read that more experienced riders use their upper legs to apply pressure, but this is a school horse and he does not get the signal for galloping when I only apply pressure like that.



Also it seems to be impossible to sit the trot because he takes tiny steps.Because of that I bounce and hurt him and I don't want to be that kind of rider! So I try to go to a gallop directly from just stepping, but he also does not get that and first starts to trot (and then I am already bouncing and feeling guilty and then I want to quickly tell him to gallop and then everything goes wrong because I lose a stirrup, my feet get too far in the stirrup, I bounce and get frustrated... I know part of the problem is that the horse is a bit dead to certain aids, but I am just a client that rides once or twice a week and I can't retrain a pony that is ridden by so many people.



I will tell my trainer that I want to learn to do light riding while galloping and that I want to learn different (sensible) things that I can learn on the pony. I can by the way perfectly sit the trot without coming out of the saddle and perfectly gallop and stick to the saddle on a horse. I also have never had the problem of losing a stirrup while galloping on a horse. Of course I requested a horse, but they don't have one for a beginner. I already decided the pony and I are not a good galloping match, but I just wanted some advice from experienced riders. What can I do differently to make it a more pleasurable experience for both me and the pony? If it continues like it is now, I am gonna request that we refer from galopping. Let's be real, I would never purchase a pony... So I am not really motivated to learn to sit the trot on a tiny horsey. But I am very much motivated to be a rider that does not hurt the horse.
 

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How tall are you?
How tall is the pony?
Unless your knees hang past the equine's barrel, then you can cue with your calves. I have seen people 6+ ft. (183+ cm) on cute, tiny little ponies, and they both do just fine.

You are from Europe. For clarification, when you say "gallop" do you mean the three beat gait (10-17 mph (16–27 km/h); "canter"/"lope" in the U.S.) or the four beat gait (fastest gait)?

It sounds like you have been receiving some misinformation from the riding school and/or your trainer. Why are you wearing and using spurs? I have been riding over ten years and still feel like I do not have the leg control to use spurs. An inexperienced person should not be using spurs. If the horse is properly trained, the rider should not need to use spurs to cue a canter/gallop. Although spurs can be used as a "pay attention" cue, they are not meant to be used as a forward cue on a dead-sided equine.

When cueing for the canter/gallop from a trot, you should sit. Meanwhile, depending on your experience level, you can either post or two-point.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
How tall are you?
How tall is the pony?
Unless your knees hang past the equine's barrel, then you can cue with your calves. I have seen people 6+ ft. (183+ cm) on cute, tiny little ponies, and they both do just fine.

You are from Europe. For clarification, when you say "gallop" do you mean the three beat gait (10-17 mph (16–27 km/h); "canter"/"lope" in the U.S.) or the four beat gait (fastest gait)?

It sounds like you have been receiving some misinformation from the riding school and/or your trainer. Why are you wearing and using spurs? I have been riding over ten years and still feel like I do not have the leg control to use spurs. An inexperienced person should not be using spurs. If the horse is properly trained, the rider should not need to use spurs to cue a canter/gallop. Although spurs can be used as a "pay attention" cue, they are not meant to be used as a forward cue on a dead-sided equine.

When cueing for the canter/gallop from a trot, you should sit. Meanwhile, depending on your experience level, you can either post or two-point.

Gallop: I mean the fastest a horse can go. We only have one word for that in our language it seems like English has two?



I can't use my calves because they are below the horse, my whole feet and a part of my lower leg hang below the belly of the pony. I am 1m82 cm. I don't know how tall the pony is, he is significantly tinier then a quarter horse (which I normally ride).



I also agree with you on the spurs. I told the instructor I don't want to wear and use spurs so they gave me kids spurs/some kind of training things. In my opinion the horse is willing to work, it is confused by inconsistent training so I don't think using spurs is legitimized. I am also gonna refuse to wear the spurs next time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
When cueing for the canter/gallop from a trot, you should sit. Meanwhile, depending on your experience level, you can either post or two-point.[/QUOTE]


I know you should sit to cue from trot to gallop, but I can't sit the trot on this pony because his movements are so tiny and fast... (that's why I try to make him go from stepping to gallop at once so I can at least not annoy him in the trot) I do sit during the gallop, I never did the two point during gallop, I can perfectly do the two point during trot but the horse doesn't understand more leg pressure means 'transition to gallop', he thinks it means: more schwung/faster trot. :)
 

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If they be given you a too small pony because that's the most suitable they've got, if they give beginners spurs... is there anywhere else you can go for lessons?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
If they be given you a too small pony because that's the most suitable they've got, if they give beginners spurs... is there anywhere else you can go for lessons?

Yeah, I was thinking about that too. I don't get that a horse riding school doesn't at least have some beginner horses. I am gonna try some different horse riding schools... But it is hard to find western riding schools where I live... I already looked into it and I am gonna book some lessons elsewhere (it is further away and really expensive)...
 

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Yeah, I was thinking about that too. I don't get that a horse riding school doesn't at least have some beginner horses. I am gonna try some different horse riding schools... But it is hard to find western riding schools where I live... I already looked into it and I am gonna book some lessons elsewhere (it is further away and really expensive)...
This school doesn’t sound ideal. Do you have any English schools nearby? From your other thread I gather you are a beginner. At that stage, English vs. Western doesn’t make much difference. Riding is riding. Go to the English school, get a lot of hours in. You can easily switch to Western later. It really isn’t very different until you get to higher levels of a specific discipline.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
@Horsef Well erm... English is more popular so there are lots of English riding schools, but I have some issues (hard to explain) with my motoric movements. The problem is that automatisation of things take a lot of time and once something is ingrained it is really difficult to forget/overwrite it... I specifically chose western because I would not have to have contact with a bit and would be able to focus on my seat, neck reining and leg cues. I found that I can easily follow the movement of the horse with my body but have to think actively and hard about specific leg and rein cues. I am afraid that riding English will mess my learning proces up and I am almost certain riding with contact will be impossible for me. :( I cannot coordinate hand movement whilst remaining in contact + legs + seat.) Seat comes the most natural to me. I actively think about legs, feet in stirrups and the properly holding of the reins while neck reining.



If I would try to ride with contact it would probably take me 10X more time then an average rider. I would also cause the horse to suffer. Not okay. :( So I am gonna try to find a good western school... Even if I have to pay much and have to travel far.



Maybe I can switch to English when I can do all the rest very good (because then I would only have to focus on the rein contact??)
 

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How about you just take the stirrups off? I don't know if that would work, given what you said about your issues with movement, but I think it could solve both of your problems.

1. No stirrups means no stirrups to lose.
2. I personally find it a lot easier to sit the trot without stirrups, and most people I've talked to have said the same.

Riding with no stirrups is generally considered to be really good for you.
 
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We have two words in english for canter and gallop because they are two different gaits. I am guessing you perhaps are meaning the canter when you are talking about the gallop. In english we call the same gait canter as they call the lope in western.

You know what walk and trot are, and the canter is the third gait which is a three beat gait and is faster than a trot. The fourth gait is gallop, which is a four beat gait. When the horse transitions from canter to gallop, the three beat smoother motion becomes a rougher four beat motion.

The canter is not the fastest gait a horse has, but is usually the fastest gait that horses are ridden in an arena or during lessons. The gallop is the fastest gait a horse has, and is what racehorses are competed in. Sitting the canter is nice on most horses. Sitting the gallop is not nice on many horses, since it is rougher. Many riders get up in two point for galloping.
This horse is galloping.


This horse is cantering (loping in western).
 

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I think it will depend on what school you go to, but generally, I've found instructors don't really care if you have contact or not. I mean, you won't be able to have your reins as long as western riders, but you won't need constant contact for while (I've been riding 11 years and only just started riding with contact).
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
How about you just take the stirrups off? I don't know if that would work, given what you said about your issues with movement, but I think it could solve both of your problems.

1. No stirrups means no stirrups to lose.
2. I personally find it a lot easier to sit the trot without stirrups, and most people I've talked to have said the same.

Riding with no stirrups is generally considered to be really good for you.

My instructor says I am not a good enough rider to ride without stirrups...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
@gottatrot We us the word gallop for canter (in my language) and rungalop for galop (so we use practically the same word). The cantering on a horse is easy for me (I almost never come out of the saddle and rock steadily with the motion). The cantering on the pony = disaster. :( I never did the rungalop since there is no place for it in the riding school. Also it is not a custom here to do that... Most riders are afraid of the rungalop, so I have been told.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
@ACinATX I think you might be right, I will be able to cue the pony by lifting my heel quickly and give him a little bump... Now I struggle to keep the stirrups on my feet and give a quick que and in the meanwhile stay in the saddle (and then I sometimes grab the pommel and according to my instructor this hurts the horse...) what a mess. I think I am gonna try one more time and if the problem isn't adressed properly I am gonna have to find a solution. The pony should not suffer because of a rider mismatch.
 

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I think that since you do have additional challenges you shouldn’t be adding more difficulty in the form of an unsuitable horse. You will learn bad habits for sure.

My best advice is to find a different school. You could even speak to English schools around you and the might be able to accommodate you. We often have lessons or parts of lessons without contact. Most English trained horses know how to be ridden without contact - you just ride with your seat.You might even get a horse which is comfortable being ridden without a bit. All the school horses at my yard can be ridden bit-less, for example. I don’t think our instructors would have any issue with a student riding without contact or even neck reining.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to push the idea. I was just throwing possible solutions out there and something might help you.

Best of luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
@Horsef
Yeah, you might be right... I don't want to learn bad habits! I will try to inform myself further and see if I can find a good solution... :) Thanks for the ideas! :)
 

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My instructor says I am not a good enough rider to ride without stirrups...

Many old-school instructors will tell you that until you are a decent rider, you don't get to use stirrups. They're not doing you any good on a too-small pony, and could well be dangerous if your legs can swing under the barrel-- should you fall, the horse could hang a leg in the stirrups easily. Stirrups with a novice rider on a small pony will not put you in the right position anyway.

I would look for a new riding school for lessons. Any decent instructor should be able to help you learn even with your challenges, whether English or Western. The basics are not that different. A horse suitable for a beginning rider should be ok with some modifications for your learning styles, and suit you much better than a pony with your feet down around his knees.
 

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You are paying for a service and they aren’t fulfilling their side of things.

The pony is possibly too narrow as well as being too small, you shouldn’t have to be doing things like riding without stirrups to try to make an unsuitable pony work for you.

Look for another riding school.
 

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I agree with finding a new riding school. However, I will also add that yesterday, I rode a pony in a lesson. She's a tall pony (just over 14hh) and I'm short, but it still felt different than riding a taller horse. I ride English, and my coach is a jumper coach, so my stirrups are a bit higher. I just found that by pushing my leg under myself (which is where it should be anyway), I was able to keep my leg against the pony's sides and cue as needed. Of course in a Western saddle, it would be very different.

There are a couple of other things you have mentioned that I'd like to bring up. Choosing to ride Western because you don't want to have to worry about riding with contact is a bit of an odd choice in my view. Just because you don't have contact doesn't mean you don't have to pay attention to your hands. Furthermore, it is completely normal for a beginner rider not to be able to use the different aids independently. That's why you have lessons. In time, your goal is to be able to use your hands, seat, and legs independently. There aren't any shortcuts, and it rarely happens easily. Riding is hard! You just have to put in the time and be patient. It took me a while to ride with contact, but now I understand that it's a way to keep constant communication with your horse.

The other thing I want to bring up is the fact that you are struggling to go from trot to canter (or galop in your words -- in French we also use the word "galop" for both the canter and gallop, but we say "petit galop" for canter, "grand galop" for gallop). First, you are saying you can't sit the trot very well on this small pony because it takes tiny steps. I completely understand, but that's why you need to ride many horses. Some have short, choppy trots. You just have to learn to ride it. You also mention that the horse is not understanding the cue to canter (galop) and is just trotting faster. I understand that it's hard for you to cue with your leg hanging so low, but this is also a common beginner problem. You have to ask, then demand. In other words, if the horse is not listening, you have to demand that it does. Are you using a crop? Sometimes these lesson horses require a little more push. What does the instructor say you should do to ask for the canter (galop)? It is likely that you can get this horse to canter even with your legs hanging a bit low, you just have to make it very clear to the horse that it has to listen to you. When riding a new horse (like the pony I rode yesterday), I sometimes hesitate to use a lot of energy when I ask for the canter because I don't know how the horse will react. As a result, the first canter I did on this pony was a bit pathetic. It did not have enough momentum, and broke into a fast trot, so I had to work really hard to get it to canter again. Knowing this, the second chance I got to canter, I asked with a LOT more energy. I got a canter immediately, and was able to keep it going. That said, my legs are very, very sore today from constantly pushing this pony to be a little more forward! Some horses are just like that, they make you work hard.

So while I agree that maybe you could find a better instructor, I feel like a lot of your comments are indicative of the fact that you are still a beginner because these are beginner problems (I still consider myself in that category btw). I think you just need lots more saddle time.

One more tip I got from the coach yesterday when the pony I was riding wasn't going very fast is to apply pressure with my legs by alternating from side to side. It worked! Not sure if it would with the pony you were riding, but it was a new tool for me, so you could always ask the instructor if this is something you could try. This is not easy to do, for sure! Especially when thinking about your seat, posting the trot, alternating leg pressure, and working on flexion using an indirect rein (that was the exercise we were doing yesterday). But with enough time in the saddle, you'll be able to use all your aids independently.
 

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You shouldn't need to lift your heel to apply leg pressure on the pony. And putting spurs on you is only going to reinforce that habit.

Leg pressure can come from using the inside surface of the calf to squeeze or bump the sides of the horse/pony. You can do that without lifting your heel. Use whatever part IS touching the horse, rather than trying to contort yourself.

This video demonstrates it pretty well (starting around 2:00).

 
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