View Full Version : Does it just happen one day ?
22nd Mar 2002, 01:20 PM
I've been riding once a week since end of August and have been aware for a while that I have problems with my position which are making progression more difficult. ie can't canter because can't use legs enough in trot to get horse into canter smoothly and end up with legs all over the show.
Anyway, yesterday I had a private lesson with my instructor and really worked on the problem areas and it was great. I came away thinking - okay, I haven't got rid of my problems but at least I know what they are. My main problem with my position is apparently I am putting too much weight through my heels which is making my legs go forward and my bottom back. The reason for me doing this is that for the last 7 months, my former and new instructor have been shouting "HEELS DOWN" at every opportunity and I thought that was all you had to do to be in the right position. I'm a bit worried that I have got into a really bad habit which will be hard to get out of.
My question to you all is, is there anything you do which helps you get into and stay the right position and does it just all happen right someday ? I look at experienced riders and they make it all look so easy - legs steady but relaxed and good contact with the horse.
22nd Mar 2002, 02:13 PM
OK, first of all, check your stirrups are the right length. When you get on the horse, let your legs hang loose and if the base of the stirrup reaches your ankle bone, they should be the right length.
Ask for some lunge lessons. These will drastically improve your possition in the saddle. You can work without stirrups and reins without worrying about keeping the horse moving.
When you take back your stirrups, don't force your heels down - let your lower leg become 'heavy' from the knee down - if you concentrate on doing this, your lower leg and heel should be in the right place.
I'm sure you know that you should be able to draw a straight line from your ear, through your shoulder, elbow, hip and heel when sitting in the correct position. It also helps to get someone to video you riding, so you can see for yourself where you are going wrong.
I would definitely recommend some lunge lessons - ask your instructor during your next lesson - good luck - you will eventually overcome this!!
22nd Mar 2002, 04:24 PM
In my experience it does just all seem to happen one day. Then the next you're trying to achieve something else or feeling that you've gone back to square one!!! I've asked those who I feel ride brilliantly - and they don't actually feel that their riding is quite as good as I've assessed it to be.
I don't follow my own advice, BUT I'd advise you to enjoy the "journey". The thing is you are not dealing only with yourself - and that's hard enough because you are often asking your body to do what just doesn't come naturally. You are also dealing with something very special - the horse or horses. The horse I've come to learn isn't a constant because it displays different reactions to different things. When you come to deal with horses in the plural then everyghing is multiplied.
All in all, therefore, I'd say you are probably doing really well. It's just that it takes time.
22nd Mar 2002, 05:04 PM
Lunging lunging lunging - there is a good video by Klaus Balkenhol called "Thirty Days to a Better Seat" with really great exercises. Not sure if you can buy it in Europe as I think he lives in the U.S. Also Heather's book of course (I have read it about 12 times). I wish the video was available over here - I'm thinking of getting it anyway and having it converted.
22nd Mar 2002, 06:01 PM
something that has helped me both riding and teaching, is to say "knees and heels down and back" rather than "heels down".
H & Bailey
22nd Mar 2002, 08:50 PM
A good trick to get your legs long and in the right position is to ..whilst mounted...bend your leg up behind you get hold of your ankle..so your knee is pointing downwards.then let go and kick the leg down to the ground then repeat with the other leg you should find theat your legs will be long and straight.
you should be able to slip your feet in your stirrups without really moving them much..just find them with your toes!
riding without stirrups is good but be careful you dont grip up with your knees as this will lift your lower leg away from the sides.
Try different stirrup lengths as your stirrups might be too long or too short!I find that I have my stirrups as long as nearly the bottom of my feet..if I had them at my ankle bone it hurts my knee and makes me push my heels right down and I feel my seat is a bit insecure or my pal says I look like im going jumping
22nd Mar 2002, 09:07 PM
This may sound very strange, but I had one instructer yell "heels up!" rather then "heels down". I tended to put them too far down and mess up my whole postion. Now they don't yell anything about heels - just the rest of me.
I ride both saddleseat and huntseat, so I switch back and forth every week between "sit forward; you'll get left behind over the jump!" and "sit back or you'll flip right over the horse's shoulder". It's VERY confusing!
It all does click - I started cantering after two months or so, but I stopped for a few before starting up again, and in those three months or so it all clicked. Usually, it becomes automatic and one day, "Hey, I can do this right!"
25th Mar 2002, 08:12 AM
Thanks everyone for all your replies - I didn't log on all weekend so it was lovely to get so much advice this morning. Unfortunately the school I go to don't do lunging lessons but I'm reassured that I'll come to me eventually.
25th Mar 2002, 08:48 AM
Agree with all the advice given. I think doing some work without stirrups would help, I think maybe adjusting stirrup length to see which place feels the best to you. You could also do some two point at walk or trot. Not to mention trying to stand up in the stirrups while horse is standing still.
All good advice though!
29th Mar 2002, 06:40 PM
Right, where to start.
First if your stirrups are the right length for you they should just support your foot, not intefere with your seat.
I like to have them long enough so when my foot is hanging next to them it comes level with the top of the heel of my boot, not my ankle, this is way too short.
Don't aim for your heel to be forced down, having your foot parallel with the floor is good enough, if your heel is slightley lower all well and good, but not at the expense of your seat.
When riding without stirrups point your toe TO THE FLOOR, it will draw you into the saddle, and, if you absorb the movement correctly with your hips, you will be glued there. forcing your toe up will cause tension right the way up your body and end up in an insecure seat.
The most important thing to get still legs, hands, head and body is start with your backside, if this isn't working correctly everything else will move.
I did a course with Heather a few weeks back, she made me certain of the correct movement of the lower back and pelvis. Once I, myself, got this straight I was amazed at the leaps and bounds my pupils made. It all hinges on the correct movement in the saddle to match that of the horse. ONce you have this everything else will slide into place.
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