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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
from western to english! I would love a critique on both myself and my mare. I barrel raced before (well, hence the name "BarrelBunny") and she was mainly a kids/trail horse. She was my first horse and I have been with her for 8 years now. Really, she doesn't know much - everything that she does know I taught her (I was 9.. lol). I did teach her the pattern at the beginning of the year, but we only went to one race. Anyhoo, on with the pictures. I have been working really hard on my EQ this past week or so. These pictures are in chronological order - I'll include the dates. I feel like my biggest problem is that when I post I want to tense my upper body, so I lean forward, especially when we add speed. Oh, and you can't forget those super low hands.. *headdesk*

April 20 - just to show you what we started with... lol
4.20.13.jpg

June 12 - this is the picture that started the whole thing. I was very annoyed with how I looked and how it felt.
6.12.13.jpg

June 13 - started playing with my stirrup length because I felt like they were so short; was thinking that it would help me relax.
6.13.13.jpg

June 18 - Too long! Felt like my feet came a little too far forward, but it did help me relax.
6.18.13.JPG

June 20 - Definitely more relaxed, but then I let my arms/hands and shoulders get away from me.
6.20.13.jpg

June 21 - I feel like I was tensing again.. This was yesterday; critique please!
6.21.13.jpg

Oh, and just for fun, haha. The picture on the left was from April, The one on the right was two weeks ago.
Buttshot!.jpg

Thanks!
 

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Don't be so critical of yourself! I think that you're doing a great job and I quite like your mare!

Here's what I notice.

- Your saddle could be scooted back a few inches. The "nail" (the buttons on either side of the pommel) of the saddle should be a few inches or "three fingers" behind the horse's point of shoulder.
- I'm impressed that you maintain a nice long, aligned leg in that jumping saddle! It's easy to slip forward into a chair seat in that kind of saddle. If you have another English saddle available to you (AP, dressage), it might be more comfortable to switch to one of those. Just make sure that when you're keeping your position, you're using your calves to hold your leg in place and not your knees.
- Try to bring your seatbones a little more underneath you by tucking your pelvis.

Do you have any video? I want to say something about your mare, but I'm not sure what! Someone more experienced might have to weigh in. My first reaction is that I love her relaxation, her stretch and her topline, but it's hard to tell if the horse just has a flat/roached back or not. Either way, she looks like a pleasure to ride!

I don't know how she responds to contact--sometimes she is behind the vertical, and I'm not sure if she is avoiding the bit or just looking for your hands. Here is my first instinct. I'd like to see you take a little more contact on her mouth. Shorten your reins, ride with your elbows a little more into your sides so there's a hint more angle between your forearm and your upper arm. Sit back and drive with your legs, think about pushing your seatbones down under you. Every time your mare dips her head down or tucks her nose back behind the vertical, push her forward and the simple action of using her hindquarters will bring her head back up.

Anyway, you two look lovely together and I wish you the best. Hopefully others can weigh in!
 

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The biggest thing that stands out to me is the arch in your back. As existentialpony pointed out, tuck your pelvis in a little and straighten your back. That should help with that tense feeling, and will save your back too.
When she's standing still, take your feet out of the stirrups close your eyes. Now sit with your back straight and settle your butt into the deepest part of the saddle. Let your legs hang where they feel right - the saddle design will dictate this to quite an extent. Your irons should be hitting right about at your anklebone - give or take an inch. Now when to take back your stirrups, be sure to keep your butt deep and your back straight and get used to the feeling of that position. That will help you stay more upright when posting as well.

I love Barrelbunny. Pretty girl. She looks so athletic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank y'all so much!

existentialpony - This is the only saddle I have. I was told that it is an AP..? I'm looking into getting a different one eventually, but for now I have to put up with this one. It's my "starter saddle." :wink: I will definitely scoot it back a bit! As for me, what do you mean by "tuck my pelvis?" The only thing I can think of is "sitting" for a barrel turn, but I'm pretty sure that's not it. We've both been western our whole lives, so all of this is new to us. She does hold contact, but is not super consistent with it yet; she's still thinking I pick up on the bit, she gives. I'm thinking that will be something that will come with time?

I do have videos, but unfortunately I can't upload them. :-( Would love to, though! I can't wait to start taking lessons again!

freia - Thank you! I will definitely try that. I think my biggest problem is I don't know how it feels yet and I don't have anyone around who knows how it looks to tell me whether I have it right or not. It does help that I can come here for feedback, but it's still not the same. Oh, and her name is actually Sissy. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Haha yes it is! That's alright though, I'm loving the challenge! Definitely subbing! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Ok, sorry for the quality, but here's a screen shot from tonight! I was completely focused on myself, wasn't asking her for anything other than a nice, even trot. (To her, that means SLOW, haha) I wasn't too worried about it though, just trying to see what felt right versus what looks right. If I got it right, tomorrow I will be more worried about her. So.. comments, suggestions, tips, flying monkeys? :lol:
More EQ 020.jpg
 

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You look great! Elbows could be a little further back, but I can see that you're riding with a giving hand and that is the reason they've inched forward. I don't see a problem with it-- you have a nice line from elbow to hand to bit. I like your contact and how she's accepting it! You can already see how her poll is just about the highest point. Push her into that tomorrow and see how it goes! :)

As for "tucking" your pelvis, you've already done it here! Ride Western in an English saddle--you've tucked your bum under you to sit more on your pants pockets (and therefore your seatbones). Most people who switch to English (me included!) tend to overexaggerate this cutesy pinup posture at first where they stick their butt out and arch their back (haha). Similar to sitting deep around a barrel, you will use your seat to get your horse working off of his hind end in English. Just make sure that when you sit like this, you use your calves to keep your leg from slipping forward.

Super awesome!!
 

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loved Existenial ponie's critique! she knows her stuff.




and this one, a little less well lined up (for dressage), but still good.


take this photo , put girl in dressage saddle, add some nice breeches , helmet and gloves, and whoopee! it's a dressage girl~! the alignment screams "do dressage!".
 

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I don't have any critique because you have already received some awesome from the knowledge people above, but I just wanted to say how much you have improved from the first few photos to your more recent - excellent job :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
exsistentialpony - So glad I got it right! Will definitely work more on her today, while trying to keep myself looking decent, haha. I'm not very good at multitasking - hence the working on one part at a time. The next part is going to be using my calves.. :shock: This should be fun. I was taught to use my calves for speed, meaning no contact until asking to go faster. She's pretty smart, though, so I'm guessing she'll catch on relatively quickly.

tinyliny - That's the plan! Actually, getting boots/breeches within the next couple of weeks, then hopefully back to lessons! I'm probably going to have to wait a little while to get a new saddle. My question to you is, do I go ahead and get a dressage saddle or should I just get an AP for now?

Becca93 - Yes, I did get an awesome critique! So happy I came here. Thank you, I try my hardest! :)

Thanks so much! I'm thinking that I'm going to keep posting pictures here for awhile, at least until y'all get tired of me.. :lol: I hope you don't mind!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you! I had my first lesson at the very beginning of the year; I want to say February-ish. From there, it's been on and off because of barrel racing. This is the first month that I am seriously looking to improve and wanting to pick a discipline! :)

ETA: Yeah, I doubt that! You're doing pretty good, too! :)
 

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Hehehe Tiny said exactly what I've been trying not to say this whole time about trying dressage, because I'm biased! I switched from Western to English at the beginning of this year (I'd ridden English before, but it was a loooong time ago and I rode jumpers) and was immediately drawn to dressage because I wanted to learn how to be more correct, and how to help my horse use his body more correctly and efficiently. I really love it! Everyone told me to just invest in a dressage saddle, but I bought a cheap AP first... then ended up buying a dressage saddle anyway. :lol: I'd say go for a dressage saddle when you can. I only use my AP for showing hunter pleasure.
 

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The problem with only using your calves for speed is that you'll find it quite hard to post without your leg bouncing around, or sit the trot without your leg bouncing forward on every stride. The contact between your leg and the horse is just enough to keep your position (think about hugging the horse's barrel with your legs, not so much squeezing), but your leg will have all sorts of new purpose as you learn more about English. :) I'm excited for you! I think you'll do really great.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Haha that's super exciting for me! Out of all of the english disciplines, I have always liked dressage the best, and I knew that if I ever switched that's what I was going to try first. I'm definitely going for a dressage saddle, then!

I figured that right out from the start! :lol: Now, my lower leg stays pretty still, but it took awhile! It still moves with her motion, but not from me moving it. I wondered how other people kept their lower legs so still - now I understand why! Probably going to have to hang up my bumper spurs for awhile. Don't want to accidentally catch her with one of them.

I'm excited for our ride tonight, 1 more hour to go until it's cool enough! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I think it was 99F here today.. :shock: Supposed to be 100F+ later in the week. Plus, my aunt is dropping off one of her geldings for me to tune up. *sighs* Looks like I'm going to be up at the crack of dawn every morning to ride him, and riding my mare in the evenings. Yay me! :lol:
 

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In the first post, look at your back in the first photo (when you started) and now look at the other photos.

You are holding a LOT of tension in the recent photos, sticking your but out, and leaning forward.

If you sort that out, I find you will have a nicer ride.

Your hands are actually nearly perfect. Look at the line from the bit through the rein to your hands. It's almost straight, which is what you want.. not super high up. So I'd say your hands are probably the best aspect of your riding so far.

I think you have your stirrups too short. The one picture you look "annoyed" is actually a very nice length. Now if you were to start jumping higher up, you'd probably have the stirrups shortened 2 holes max.

Make sure your neck stays over your shoulders, not swanning out. The human head weighs a LOT so if it's jutting out lik that you will be out of balance, which will affect your horse.

~~~

Now looking at the updated posting.. beautiful :) Much much better!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I definitely knew that I had tension, pointed that right out! *does happy dance* I was told that my hands were too low (the very first picture) so from there, I picked them up a bit. Glad I at least got that part right! What do you think about my stirrup length in these pictures? They feel about right, but then what do I know? Haha. Didn't even notice my head sticking out - I remind myself of an ostrich (lol!).

Alright, on to pictures! I was trying *very hard* to keep my calves touching her along with everything else we've been working on.
Even more EQ 010.jpg

In this one, I was more focused on her, I think, and I let myself slip a bit. -Maybe I was adjusting my reins? Dunno.
Even more EQ 008.jpg

She wasn't too happy that she had to move out a bit tonight, haha. Lazy girl.
 
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