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Hi,

I started riding english- hunter/jumper last november meaning to learn to jump. I took 12 years off from riding and wanted to try something new. All my past experiance in riding was western where I learned to barrel, pole bend, and rope since I was 10. (this means leaning forward hold on to rein one handed and the horn or rope in the other)

I now have started riding and jump over x's. my issue that is making my growth slow is cantering.

I need some advice. every time i transition to a canter my body leans forward and my legs go forwards. since I don't canter often, in my once a week lesson, I need a mental and physical help. my teacher says i should use my western seat and lean back and sit. which i have figured out.

my issue is when i start to lean back it feels unnatural and i feel off balance. so when we practice cantering into a jump i get nervous about sharp turns, not being in the right position in time to jump or I wont be able to avoid obstacles at this speed.

as you can tell I over think and i have gotten better but not my positioning. can you suggest something I can work on so my lesson ends on a better note?
 

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But you should lean forward when you jump, don't you? :D

What about the trot? Does it feel balanced? The reason I ask if your legs go forward I wonder if the saddle is balanced and/or fit you. I had similar problems with not fitting me saddle (but my legs were pushed forward on trot as well).

All I'd suggest is try to relax as much as you can in your hips and upper body before doing a transition into the canter, and then try to move with the horse.
 

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You can lean forward going over a jump, if you like, but if your horse stops suddenly you'll fly over the jump without him.
I suggest two things:
1) Buy a copy of "Hunter Seat Equitation", by George Morris. My teacher was great but he's still the master and he STILL rides and trains, though he's past 70 yo.
2) Ride that English saddle without stirrups. It's really a deep seat, even though it doesn't have a big swell with a ... horn. (Is there a reason you need that horn for pleasure riding?)
My teacher taught us to ride the canter by "dusting the back of the saddle with your fanny." (TODAY, they would probably call him "Peter File" and not let him near our daughters just for the comment, BUT he was right.)
When you ride the trot you have two options: sit the trot, even the extended, bouncy trot OR post the trot, every other stride. When you jump you are balanced just like in mid-post. It's called, "two-point". The idea is to get out of the horse's balance so he doesn't have to drag you over a jump, and to keep you from landing hard on his back and bounding off on the landing. Most people learn to jump by trotting poles on the ground, trotting over cavaletti, and trotting over cross poles to teach you to find the center of every jump, EVEN if you are jumping at an angle instead of crossing the obstacle at a perpendicular.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
To help answer some questions for you both. I feel find at the trot, both sit and posting with and without stirrups. When you transition to a canter your body should be straight and centered not leaning forward or back. the school horse will not go into a canter if you lean forward and if you are posting they trot faster.

I have found if I tire out my legs doing no stirrup work I canter better. you should only lean forward at a two point right before the jump. I think having stirrup shorter causes issue and yes my confidence does done when I canter. the funny thing is I canter get after a jump its jump riding down the arena that i have this issue
 

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I think I understand your question. Haha :)

When you canter, think about having your head tied to the roof - Sh. I learnt this when I was A LOT younger and it helped me to visualize keeping my upper body straight/back instead of tilting forwards. Try and sit deeper, chances are your being light through your 'butt muscles'. Really sit on them. Think - down, instead of light, fluffy clouds. Although you don't want to be slamming onto your horses back.

When you do canter, remember to drop your heels, you may be tensing through your lower leg and knee, making your leg pitch backwards and your upper body pitch forwards. Think - everything must be down. Also, another thing that may help you is - think of it this way. If someone took a horse out from under you and you were tilting forwards. What would happen?

You would fall forwards onto your face - um. ouch?

Similarly, if you were too far backwards, if someone took the horse out from under you than you would land on your back. Where as if you were straight and had your - heel, hip and shoulders in line than you would land on your feet. This might be a little visual that helps you.

If you like, I may have some videos on my computer of me doing balance exercises on my horse at the canter, which I can upload for you? They were fun & I was bored..

Remember, you want to focus on going WITH the horses motion, leaning forwards too much - you become AHEAD of it. Leaning back to much, you become BEHIND it. You want to be in rhythm with the horses motion through your hips. Also, when you mention your body wanting to lean forward when doing turns in the canter, having attended a few sporting clinics, I learn that - it is better and safer to lean back. Your allowing the horse to move its body (mainly the hind) easier, without leaning forward - causing the center of balance to be broken. Just another little thought.

Cantering into jumps - think to yourself. Sit, wait, feel my 'butt muscles'' in the saddle. Wait for the jump to come to you, don't jump the jump before you get to it. It may put the horse in an awkward striding and if you sit back and wait for the correct time in the striding, you will actually enjoy jumping a whole lot more and feel a lot more confident over the actual jump.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I will let you know is your advice works!

I will be sure to try this at my lesson on Saturday and keep you guys posted. this all does make sense and I will make sure to take your advice. I am a visual learner so if you would post the videos would be great. I could use some balance techniques. Thanks

I think I understand your question. Haha :)

When you canter, think about having your head tied to the roof - Sh. I learnt this when I was A LOT younger and it helped me to visualize keeping my upper body straight/back instead of tilting forwards. Try and sit deeper, chances are your being light through your 'butt muscles'. Really sit on them. Think - down, instead of light, fluffy clouds. Although you don't want to be slamming onto your horses back.

When you do canter, remember to drop your heels, you may be tensing through your lower leg and knee, making your leg pitch backwards and your upper body pitch forwards. Think - everything must be down. Also, another thing that may help you is - think of it this way. If someone took a horse out from under you and you were tilting forwards. What would happen?

You would fall forwards onto your face - um. ouch?

Similarly, if you were too far backwards, if someone took the horse out from under you than you would land on your back. Where as if you were straight and had your - heel, hip and shoulders in line than you would land on your feet. This might be a little visual that helps you.

If you like, I may have some videos on my computer of me doing balance exercises on my horse at the canter, which I can upload for you? They were fun & I was bored..

Remember, you want to focus on going WITH the horses motion, leaning forwards too much - you become AHEAD of it. Leaning back to much, you become BEHIND it. You want to be in rhythm with the horses motion through your hips. Also, when you mention your body wanting to lean forward when doing turns in the canter, having attended a few sporting clinics, I learn that - it is better and safer to lean back. Your allowing the horse to move its body (mainly the hind) easier, without leaning forward - causing the center of balance to be broken. Just another little thought.

Cantering into jumps - think to yourself. Sit, wait, feel my 'butt muscles'' in the saddle. Wait for the jump to come to you, don't jump the jump before you get to it. It may put the horse in an awkward striding and if you sit back and wait for the correct time in the striding, you will actually enjoy jumping a whole lot more and feel a lot more confident over the actual jump.
 

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I will have to hunt for them - but I'll do my best.

Do you have some videos of you riding? Or even photos? It might help to offer some advice. If you don't feel comfortable posting them on the public forum - you can PM them to me if you like.

Maddie.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Sure

First video I only have been riding for almost 2 months and haven't learn to jump yet. I don't ride this paint much this days he a brat sometimes!

the next was a video of me at my first show this last May I was only to trot in and out of each jump. I was so tense and nervous so I look ****ed and unhappy which looks ridiculous now!

I will have to hunt for them - but I'll do my best.

Do you have some videos of you riding? Or even photos? It might help to offer some advice. If you don't feel comfortable posting them on the public forum - you can PM them to me if you like.

Maddie.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
updated

First video I only have been riding for almost 2 months and haven't learn to jump yet. I don't ride this paint much this days he a brat sometimes!

had error coming soon

the next was a video of me at my first show this last May I was only to trot in and out of each jump. I was so tense and nervous so I look ****ed and unhappy which looks ridiculous now!



First video I only have been riding for almost 2 months and haven't learn to jump yet. I don't ride this paint much this days he a brat sometimes!

the next was a video of me at my first show this last May I was only to trot in and out of each jump. I was so tense and nervous so I look ****ed and unhappy which looks ridiculous now!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
First video I only have been riding for almost 2 months and haven't learn to jump yet. I don't ride this paint much this days he a brat sometimes!


First video I only have been riding for almost 2 months and haven't learn to jump yet. I don't ride this paint much this days he a brat sometimes!

had error coming soon

the next was a video of me at my first show this last May I was only to trot in and out of each jump. I was so tense and nervous so I look ****ed and unhappy which looks ridiculous now!


hs first jump round - YouTube
 

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Watching the video helps a lot. Your horse appears to be honest and safe, and that's a real plus. I have a perspective to share that may help you.
I believe that are frustrating yourself by showing your horse before YOU are ready to do so. When I was studying acoustic piano towards a degree I was required to both give recitals and I was assigned randomly to accompany another instrumentalist every semester. My keyboard professor, from which I took a weekly lesson, encouraged our recital music to be pieces that we had already mastered. We would often work on next year's recital pieces early, so as to hammer out any difficulties and help the performance of such to be fluid.
This age-old practice seems to have been lost. So often people play pieces or perform in an athletic venue at a level not yet mastered. It isn't cheating to enter a class at a level below that which you are currently working on.
DH and I have been so wrapped up with our hobby over the last 26 years, for instance, that I've never shown my horses. I've trained over 30 horses in that time, and ridden multiple 1,000's of hours. If I decide to show in the future it would be as an adult novice competing against many adults who have never had my body of experience. Should I decide to do so in the future I will probably show a horse at a level below that which he has accomplished as well.
You seem so unsure of yourself in the show ring. Why don't you give it some time and try showing again in 2012 after you've had more practice? I think that you will enjoy it more than you are right now. =D
 

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Jumping is kind of just an extension of the canter, so until you have your canter down pat your jumping isn't going to be great.

Part of the problem might be that when people jump they put their stirrups up, and its not as easy to sit to a canter with short stirrups. I'd do some riding without stirrups, and because transitions are your tricky parts, just do heaps of transitions, trot to canter, walk to canter etc. Then I'd gradually put the stirrups up.

Also, practice going in and out of the two point position, so it becomes a natural movement. So you may ride half a lap in two point, then half in three etc. If you are nervous about sharp turns practice them, try cantering around things, and do lots of transitions so you know you can drop back into a walk or whatever if you need to.
 

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I am the last person to ask advice from about cantering in an English saddle, so I won't embarrass myself by trying. However, I noticed this in your post:

"I started riding english- hunter/jumper last november meaning to learn to jump. I took 12 years off from riding and wanted to try something new. All my past experiance in riding was western where I learned to barrel, pole bend, and rope since I was 10."

I took up riding at 50, after 40 years of jogging. The theory of riding seems pretty easy, but getting my body to cooperate is a different story. Jogging tightened everything that needs to be loose when riding.

After 12 years, you are riding with a mind that is experienced, but a body that has changed. You may have tension in your body that you are not aware of, but that hurts your riding.

Another possibility: Having been hurt during a double bolt riding English, I find I ride an English saddle defensively - feet forward to brace, and my shoulders follow. Of course, my conscious mind knows that is stupid, but my subconscious is, apparently, stupid.

In an Australian saddle, I relax more & ride better. Coming from a western background, it may be your mind is uncomfortable with having so little in front of you, and it is trying to protect you by subconsciously moving your feet forward. If so, it may just take more hours of riding on the flat to reprogram your mind so you can truly relax the way a good rider does.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Yes I have the same fears and overthinking you have described. I do feel more comfortable on a smaller horse but since i use whatever school horse is available i can't ride and 14-15 hand since they don't one small horses.

I never rode in an Australian saddle but my reason to ride english was to try endurance once i finish school and can buy my own horse. since the saddle comes without a horn I felt I should learn to ride differently.

to answer about the show. I only wanted to try it once and yes I don't think I was truely ready for it. I am glad I did it and can check it off my list as an accomplishment!

So I ride today and just recieved an email that I will be riding a new horse until we find a new school horse for my lesson hour. I will take all of your wonderful tips and see how it goes. Hopefully me and PB will connect well enough that I will be comfortable enough to canter and jump today. I will let you all know how it goes. and i think I will lengthen the stirrups is its ground work today!
 

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So you need to fix your cantering before continuing with jumping, as the jumping will make your leaning forward worse. I'd suggest next time you lesson you ask for a lunge line lesson. That way trainer controls the horse and you can focus on your seat. Once you can sit quietly (do NOT grip with legs as that will encourage you to bounce) then cross the stirrups over the pommel and ride the walk/trot and canter without stirrups. (You'll want a "grab strap" to help keep you on the saddle at first until your balance improves.) :)

When you can do it all without stirrups you're ready to start jumping again. :D You'll be more confident and the leaning forward when cantering will have been eliminated.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
riding update

I took all of your guys great advise and have tried to fix my nervousness and posture. I talked to my instructor and she viewed my transitions and says i dont look like how i feel i look. so last saturday I asked to be on a lounge line at a trot no reins and see how i feel ( balanced, unbalanced) As soon as i had one arm on my side and the other on a neck I felt balanced (classic western style). next we did it with my eyes closed and I felt so secure and balanced on horseback. So conclusion I feel more comfortable riding without seeing where I an going. so really it is the sight of things in front of me that makes me nervous to progress and i create bad habits. I did find that i should do this technique on every new horse I ride because i feel more confident when i can just feel and bond with the horse when I am in a calm state.
 
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