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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVhb7Ev14zE

I am a western rider, have been riding for 14ish years. This video was taken 6 months ago, when I first started a working student position at an English barn, my first time ever in an English saddle. I see that my shoulders needed to go back, and my hands needed to be steadier, especially at the beginning of the video. My English, and overall riding improved greatly and became more refined, as far as technicalities go. I would like you all to nit pick, attack, tear limb from limb, etc. I'm not riding English anymore, but bad habits translate over saddles, and I don't want to ever go backwards, and feel that fresh eyes might make me aware of things to watch out for on a day to day basis. So, thoughts? Tips? Brutality? Go!
 

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I'm not sure if it's just the stirrups are a little too long, or if it is the saddle that does not properly balance you. It seems to be putting you in a chair seat as you seem to be fighting to keep your legs underneath you. Try shortening the stirrups a few holes and see if you find it easier to keep your legs under you. Once you get that balance sorted out, I'll bet you quickly find posting a lot easier and won't be hanging on the reins for balance, not that it's that bad now for a first try. Have someone look at the balance or the saddle and check that, when you're sitting in it without stirrups, your shoulders, hips and heels all line up naturally.
 

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Are you after a dressage approach or a forward seat (jump) approach?
 

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Agree with MBP, looks like maybe the stirrups are too long and they are hung to forward. You have a lot of energy, I like that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks! BSMS, it was a dressage barn, but my biggest thing to watch for is that I tend to lean forward. Posting was very awkward! I do agree that the stirrups were too long. I think that this particular day, I jumped on after a lesson kid got dumped, and didn't bother adjusting the stirrups. Sometime, I'll try to get a video up of me working one of my horses western, since I am no longer working at that barn. Miss that horse, he was very patient with me!
 

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There are two styles of English riding - center balanced and forward balanced. In a forward seat, the stirrups should be more forward, and you should lean as required so your center of gravity is in line with the stirrups.

In a forward seat, you shift your balance to move it forward over the horse's center of gravity. In a dressage seat, you teach the horse to collect - shift its balance to the rear - so that the horse moves ITS center of gravity BACK underneath the rider.

Horses are more comfortable to ride when our center of gravity matches theirs, but their center of gravity is naturally around the withers...so either we need to shift forward, or they need to shift back.

This is what Harry Chamberlin, an Olympic competitor who trained a year at Samur with the French Cavalry and a year with the Italian Cavalry, and then was tasked with teaching what he learned to the US Cavalry, wrote about testing your balance in a forward seat:



This is obviously different from what dressage teaches, which is why I asked about what style you were learning.

As I transition from riding a forward seat to western, my challenge is to stop riding a forward seat in a western saddle and to use the structure of the western saddle in the way it was designed to be used.



Notice in a forward seat, your weight is in your thighs and stirrups.Your heels are not under your hip, and your legs are not 'draped' around the horse. But in either style, your center of gravity ought to be over your heels (and stirrups). Then posting just involves a slight unfolding of the body, kind of like an accordion, with the center of gravity staying in place.

I disagree about your legs being too long. If anything, I'd say they were too short for what you were doing. This photo is a few years old, but my leg length is about the same now as then:



This one is a little more current. An Australian saddle is basically a variation of a dressage saddle. Long legs work fine in them, IMHO:



I am not an instructor, competitor, high level rider or anything else. But FWIW, I find a long leg lets me keep more weight in the saddle and move easier with the horse. Going a little shorter allows me to put weight in my stirrup and thighs, which is fine if I lean forward and use a forward seat, but not so fine if I want to ride a western saddle correctly.

This is a snapshot from your video. I'll delete the picture in a couple of weeks.



The problem is that all of your weight is behind the stirrups. So when you post, you need to throw your weight all the way forward and up to get over your stirrups...and then the return trip makes it likely you will land heavy on the horse's back. You were leaning forward because you instinctively knew you were not balanced, and you were trying to compensate. If your stirrups straps were vertical, they'd be attached to the front of your saddle.

If anything, a LONGER leg might make it easier to bring your heel back and get your center of gravity over your stirrups.

All IMHO, but I'm no great shakes as a rider so I could have it all wrong. :wink:
 

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Mostly you looked way too 'busy'
The canter was better than the trot
Your contact on the mouth needs to be a lot quitter - no hand jiggling
A lot of what's going wrong with the trot especially is that its all too fast and the horse is running around with no smooth controlled sense of direction or speed direction
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks Jaydee and bsms- I do agree that I was way too busy with my hands. His trot was very big and fast- much different than the little QH jogs I'm used to! We did learn to work together much more smoothly in the end. I wish I had an 'after' video, but I do appreciate everyone's opinion! I do not intend to ride English very often, but I never want to ride like this first video again, so it's good to hear all of these critiques!
 

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You look very unbalanced which is affecting keeping your hands still. Your leg position varies from too far forward to not. You need to be much more still in you body, use your core muscles to create stability and thighs to control your rise and leg stability. At the moment you often fall behind the rise and so behind the centre of balance, riding without stirrups may help a lot.:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Glad to hear my instructor did the right thing with me. After this ride, we spent a lot of time stirrup less. My balance did improve, the saddle felt so funny that first day! I felt all out of sorts. I did come to enjoy it though!
 
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i have to say that the above critiques are pretty harsh , considering this is your first time in an English saddle. I did not see you as being radically unbalanced. Well, let me put that into perspective; you were a bit unbalanced longitudinally (front to back), which made your hands become busy. however, you were not BEING busy with your hands, in the sense of intentionally doing a lot if pulling and fiddling. on the contrary, your hand was pretty solid, it's just that you were not able to absorb the movement in your body, thus it became transferred to your hands.

however, on the canters, once you got settled into the motion, I thought you did very well, and your experience as a western rider showed in how you began to relax into the seat and allow a following leg and hip.

your upper body position was better than many English riders who have years of training (they either round their back or pooch their butt), and you kept your head up and a calm demeanor.

If the stirrup where two holes shorter , and you had a bit more time and instruction on how to get your legs under you , I think you 'd do well. Indeed, I think it's a shame that you should not continue in English, as I think you have a lot of potential.

the horse is just a charming and wonderfully forward fellow.

nice work!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Thank you! I do enjoy riding English, but my heart is Western! I do miss that horse, I had the opportunity to keep him but it didn't work out. He took good care of me! I might continue with my English, someday!
Edit: I don't mind the harsh critiques! That's what I asked for! Its good to keep all of it in mind. Every comment has been helpful!
 
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