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I am a beginer rider and I am just gaining control of my horse. I can trot him just fine. I am having trouble with the lope. When we canter I go high in the saddle then slam down on his back. I don't wanna do that cause it hurts his back. I also have been riding him in a halter on trails. I am ordering a bitless bridle right now. I am stuck with a halter until then. Can I please get advice on how to lope and have good posture and balance in the saddle? I ride western. Thanks
 

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How long have you been riding?

It sounds to me like you're very stiff through your hips and lower back. You aren't absorbing the motion like you need to.

The only real suggestion I can make is to take some more time in the trot, make sure that you can sit in the saddle and flex your entire body to absorb the motion and keep your butt in the saddle.

However, it would probably be better to find an instructor and take some lessons as they can be there and see exactly what you're doing and correct any posture mistakes before they become habits.
 
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How long have you been riding?

It sounds to me like you're very stiff through your hips and lower back. You aren't absorbing the motion like you need to.

The only real suggestion I can make is to take some more time in the trot, make sure that you can sit in the saddle and flex your entire body to absorb the motion and keep your butt in the saddle.

However, it would probably be better to find an instructor and take some lessons as they can be there and see exactly what you're doing and correct any posture mistakes before they become habits.
Thanks for your advice I'll give it a try and a few months.
 

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smrobs said it; you really need to get hands on help when it comes to learning how to lope from the beginning. well, you can just muck around for a bit, too, but if you want to progress faster , with them smashing down on his back, take some lessons.

pretty much everyone goes through the phase where they fall back and flail around at the canter/lope. don't worry, you'll get better.
 

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Something I thought of when I first began cantering was to pretend kind of like you're on a rocking horse. Relax your hips and move back and forth with his rhythm, instead of going against it. :)
 

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This is a technique that I have seen many beginner riders use when they are starting out. This is just a stepping stone to get you into the correct position and help you get comfortable. Eventually you will want to move past it but I think it is a decent way to learn.

So as you move into the lope reach back with one hand and hold on to the back of your saddle right behind your back. (I am right handed so when I ride western I hold the reins in my left hand so if this was me I would hold on to the saddle with my right hand). This does two things - it puts your body into more of a correct position because it forces you to lean back into the seat of the saddle. The second thing it does is give you a sense of security and something to lean on that way you can start learning how to balance and move with the lope. Eventually you won't want to rely on holding onto the back of the saddle which will come with time because you will gain the strength you need in your core with time. I also think this is a good technique to start out with because a lot of have an instinct to reach for the saddle horn which you don't want to do. I hope this helps!
 

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The first thing I would have you look at is; are you pulling your heels up? If so you are throwing yourself off of the center point of gravity. If you push down with your heels and point your toes up it will sit you down in your saddle. The others have given you some good advise, but if you don't keep those heels down you will never sit your lope or jog for that matter.
Also I would not reccomend riding with a halter or a bitless bridle. If you don't want to use a bit, then I would say get a good quality mechanical hackamore.
 

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^I agree with Roux and Smrobs. One thing that really helped me when I was starting out was to imagine that I had concrete bags tied to my butt which let my muscles relax and 'go with the flow' and gave me a mental picture so that I dropped my weight and sat deeper in the saddle. It will come with time!
 

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Don't forget to breathe! It helps to relax yourself so you can go with the horse's motion. If you hold our breath then you tense up and the horse feels that.
 

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Don't grip with the knees. Think toes up, not heels down. I find it easiest if my stirrups are adjusted long enough that I need my feet pretty deep in the stirrups to keep the stirrups from coming off - that prevents me from bracing with my legs. I also find it easier if I keep my heels about 3-4 inches in front of my belt buckle - I hurt my lower right back 5 years ago and it is still too stiff to absorb much of the horse's motion, so I let my waist absorb the motion.

Most people riding western prefer to put their weight on their 'pockets'. I honestly prefer to lean forward some and carry my weight on my thighs. I'm used to English/Australian saddles, and having my weight on my pockets feels weird to me. Besides, the horse's back pivots around the withers at a canter - the loin has far more motion than just behind the withers.


No, the picture below is NOT me...it dates back to the early 1900s:

 

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All the advice others have given you is great. From someone who is essentially self taught at the canter, I've found that working bareback or stirrup less at a walk and trot first has helped immensely. It forces you to keep the proper position, and also teaches you the proper way to maintain your balance (stretch downward when you get unstable instead of scrunching up).

I had the same problem as you when I first started at a canter, and I've found you really need to be able to relax those core muscles and let yourself "melt" onto the horse. You also need to be doing a sitting trot before moving up into the canter.
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Or too short in the stirrup... that can cause issue as well. Not as common with a western saddle but it does happen.
 

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My trainer had me do what Roux suggested. I had never heard of holding on tomthe back of the saddle with one hand, but it really works!!!

She also had me ride without the stirrups when I cantered. Once I felt the correct movement, I stopped bouncing all around.
 
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