Will half chaps help in western cantering?

smaggi

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You shouldn't "hug" with your legs at the canter. Your legs should be beneath you and relaxed. Some poorly made western saddles will have your legs forward and force you to sit deep on your pockets.

Here is a pic of a Dale Harwood. He is one of the best western saddle makers.
http://www.flatcreeksaddle.com/cart.php?target=product&product_id=651&category_id=62

Here is a pic of my saddle.
15inchseat1.jpg
 

Stormin

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Will half chaps help in western riding?

I would personally say no.
Given that you are in an armchair of a saddle and you usually wear jeans, I would think half chaps would get in the way and bring about more thickness to your leg.
In "english" riding, half chaps can be useful to prevent pinches from the stirrup leathers through your thin-and-oh-so-flattering jodhpurs but that's just not an issue with western tack.
 

Noblesteed

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Hi ME

I started riding western earlier this year and only had my english gear, jods, boots and half chaps. They were fine, didn't interfere with my riding. I then progressed to jeans, half chaps and boots, again no problems, in fact I love riding in jeans! Now I'm onto jeans and cowboy boots, no chaps at all, really getting into western style and enjoying being more relaxed about what I wear.
The yard owner and instructor ride out in jeans, cowboy boots and full leather chaps. Others come in english gear, or western, or a mixture. So you should wear what feels right for you.

I'm wondering what help you think half chaps might be in cantering? I had some issues re cantering before I started western riding. No problems now! No need to grip, just sit and move with your horse. I have got real confidence now riding western, so relaxed and so secure. I'm really enjoying riding more forward-going horses and even like a gallop. I think getting the right gear helps but is no substitute for good instuction to help you with your confidence as a rider.

Hope this helps! NS x.
 

MajorEpiphany

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I'm wondering what help you think half chaps might be in cantering?

Two weeks ago an English rider wore them while I was having my lesson. Afterwards, my RI showed them to me and put one on my leg to demonstrate how they're worn. The rider said they were great with gripping while cantering. So when my RI encouraged me to buy some ($40), I wondered how they'd help with western myself and came here.

Doesn't matter anymore though. I dropped my lessons yesterday for good. I'm too scared to let go of the horn with both hands, and therefore cannot steer (can't 'neck rein') as the horse I always ride canters to the gate and stops. He's a little temperamental if things don't go 'just so' and it's not worth gettin' thrown over. I'll be content to just trot if I ever go hacking.
 

Stormin

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Two weeks ago an English rider wore them while I was having my lesson. Afterwards, my RI showed them to me and put one on my leg to demonstrate how they're worn. The rider said they were great with gripping while cantering. So when my RI encouraged me to buy some ($40), I wondered how they'd help with western myself and came here.

Doesn't matter anymore though. I dropped my lessons yesterday for good. I'm too scared to let go of the horn with both hands, and therefore cannot steer (can't 'neck rein') as the horse I always ride canters to the gate and stops. He's a little temperamental if things don't go 'just so' and it's not worth gettin' thrown over. I'll be content to just trot if I ever go hacking.

Oh dear - I think you need to change horse (and/or instructor), NOT to give up !!
As for the half chaps thing, I always wore them with jodhpurs and short riding boots but NEVER with jeans :confused: Full chaps, yes (and usually reserved for shows) but not half chaps.
I'm also a little worried about the "gripping" in canter thing because my western horse has been trained to be very light on the leg so if I squeeze my legs, he will go faster !
I'm not looking to "cause trouble" but from my experience, in english riding you're taught to grip with your legs but western riding has been the opposite. That's probably why the english rider find that the chaps are such a good idea.

I really hope you can get back into the (western) saddle and maybe find a more forgiving horse to build your confidence up on.
When you say you're too scared to let go of the horn, why not just hold with one hand and take the reins in the other. Best of both worlds - security of the horn and steering with the reins ;)

I really wish you luck !
 

MajorEpiphany

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Oh dear - I think you need to change horse (and/or instructor), NOT to give up !!
As for the half chaps thing, I always wore them with jodhpurs and short riding boots but NEVER with jeans :confused: Full chaps, yes (and usually reserved for shows) but not half chaps.
I'm also a little worried about the "gripping" in canter thing because my western horse has been trained to be very light on the leg so if I squeeze my legs, he will go faster !
I'm not looking to "cause trouble" but from my experience, in english riding you're taught to grip with your legs but western riding has been the opposite. That's probably why the english rider find that the chaps are such a good idea.

I really hope you can get back into the (western) saddle and maybe find a more forgiving horse to build your confidence up on.
When you say you're too scared to let go of the horn, why not just hold with one hand and take the reins in the other. Best of both worlds - security of the horn and steering with the reins ;)

I really wish you luck !

Oops! That's what I meant, but didn't word too well, sorry. Even with holding the reins in one hand and trying to 'neck rein,' he won't go anywhere but straight to the gate. And I'm too scared to let go of the horn, using both hands & reins.

Yes, I've considered changing schools/instructors just to see if it was the horse...or me. With other things happening for me right now, I've put it in the back of my mind; maybe this fall I'll look into it further.
 

Nimbus65

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Can't contribute to the chaps/no chaps discussion but just wanted to say that I ride English and have NEVER been taught to grip with my legs. Quite the opposite. Every instructor I've had in the past six years has taught me to keep my legs against the horse's sides, knee open and relaxed and underneath me (so that if the horse was suddenly whipped out from beneath me, I'd be standing on my feet). If you grip, you create a pincer movement and force yourself out of the saddle/create instability. The opposite of what you want to achieve which is a soft, deep seat.

We do, however, squeeze or nudge with our legs as aids to go up a pace, move over, half halt, etc. But it's a nudge/release, rather than a gripping or clamping action. A polite "ask" if you like.

But no gripping. Ever.

N

Edited to add: As for chaps helping w/ gripping in canter . . . erm, no . . . (for me anyway) they help keep my lower leg stable/still (which isn't the same thing as gripping) and (as someone else has said) they protect my calves from the stirrup leathers which can pinch.
 
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Stormin

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ME - to me it sounds as if you might have a few little issues in the saddle (but hey, who doesn't ! :D ) but your regular ride just isn't helping you out at all !! If the horse is neck-rein trained (and it's also a riding school horse I presume?) it's not very honest to be going straight through what you asked. What does your instructor say when you have this problem ?
There's one thing that can really help your seat (and hence solve your leg position naturally) - riding without stirrups. I know it's not fun but it really can help (walking and trotting lots before cantering of course !)

N65 - you might not directly have been taught to "grip with your legs" (and good for you !) but in my experience (and especially 'over the channel'), it's indirectly taught that way. Especially when you get into jumping.
But never had I been taught how to use my seat as much as when I started western riding - but it's just my personal experience though.

What is often funny is seeing an 'english' rider, who is used to having a "close leg contact on the horse's side" ride a finely tuned western horse - the horse generally darts off at hight speed (done it myself in the beginning and seen it when I let my friend sit up on my horse).
 

MajorEpiphany

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ME - to me it sounds as if you might have a few little issues in the saddle (but hey, who doesn't ! :D ) but your regular ride just isn't helping you out at all !! If the horse is neck-rein trained (and it's also a riding school horse I presume?) it's not very honest to be going straight through what you asked. What does your instructor say when you have this problem ?
There's one thing that can really help your seat (and hence solve your leg position naturally) - riding without stirrups. I know it's not fun but it really can help (walking and trotting lots before cantering of course !)

Thanks for replying, Stormin. You'll have to excuse me (I have had a bad day), but I've bolded everything that just doesn't make sense to me. Can you maybe reword it so I know what you're saying?

As for the riding without stirrups, just this week before my lesson I saw my RI riding my usual horse (a school horse, yes) without them, and I said to her "That's what I need to do!", hinting for that. Did we? No.
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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I have followed this thread and some of your others Major Epiphany.

When you were invited to trail ride, you quite rightly decided to take some lessons. I made my OH do the same.
And you chose the best school (I did the same when I started) so you don't like suggestions that you are being poorly taught.
But from your threads, I'd guess that some of the problems you are encountering are typical of people starting to ride late in life, like me, or returning after a long break.

I ride both UK and Western. When I ride Western I wear Wrangler riding jeans. I ride Western in my Ariat Terrain short boots. I don't wear chaps or half chaps.
As has been said, half chaps are to protect one's legs against English stirrup leathers which hang down in a loop and can pinch the skin of your leg between the two layers. One doesn't need them riding Western. And half chaps are not designed to fit over jeans, only over close fitting jods or beeches.

But I do recognise the advice about slipping. When learning in the UK, I was indeed told by a trainee teacher to get some half chaps to get a less slippery surface on the inside of my leg, to give leg stability?
If you are riding in worn or slippery trousers, (artificial fibre gets more slippery than cotton) wearing half chaps might help. I threw away my first pair of cheap jods after 3 years as they were so worn and slippery.

But when learning to ride, I didn't buy any special gear and just accepted very slow progress. The problem comes when an instructor is used to teaching young, physically active people for whom riding is (potentially) an Olympic sport. They are used to coaching athletes, have a different time frame and have asked too much of you too soon.

I didn't canter happily till I had been learning for 2 years. My OH was better taught and he cantered after one year. For adults, cantering is not a race against time. You may be going to the best school in the world, but your worried posts suggest that it is not instruction suited to you and your own particular situation.

The real solution to sitting still in canter or sitting trot is just saddle time. Having the weight on your seat and allowing your seat bones to be moved by the horse.

When one is newly back in the saddle, as you are, you body has to get re-accustomed to the canter - and that's all. The new body shape means re-learning. No one here has seen you ride. If the instructor did not allow you to ride with no stirrups, that may be because they felt your balance and security in the saddle was not yet secure enough for it to be safe?

I actually prefer riding without half chaps - without that added layer of material between me and the horse I get a closer feel of the horse.
The extra layer of clothing increases the width of the horse which means my hips need to spread more.

This question of width may be what is giving you a problem in canter? In winter in thick trousers or if I put on weight, I need to take up my stirrups. I think from a previous post that you may be heavier than I am. The extra width of your thighs may mean that you have to ride with your stirrups shorter than when you were young? Riding with shorter stirrups is fine for rising trot and forward seat in canter. Not so good sitting to jog or lope.

Shorter stirrups raise your center of gravity, and give you less stability sitting to canter, and it may be harder to keep your legs still riding Western canter than it would be if your legs were hanging straighter down the sides of the horse.

I am not saying that this is wrong - only that it may be a change from the way you felt in canter when you were younger. And your body needs to adapt and pick up new habits. In some ways I think NR shows it can be harder for returnees than it is for people like me and my OH who started riding really old -
Tho at least you already know that you can ride.

I am sorry that you have problems beyond riding at the moment, but I hope you wont abandon altogether your dream of getting back on a horse. A quiet trail ride with a friend (no canter) might eventually be a lovely way of relaxing and enjoying it again.
 

MajorEpiphany

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May 19, 2008
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Thanks for replying, Stormin. You'll have to excuse me (I have had a bad day), but I've bolded everything that just doesn't make sense to me. Can you maybe reword it so I know what you're saying?

It's a brand new day and a brand new clearer mind for me this morning! I re-read your post and now I got it! :D

The RI would shout at me to "take my hand and pull the inside rein." But that would've meant me letting go of the horn to grab both reins, and I was too afraid. In other words, she initially said to neck-rein, but when it came time to doing it, she wanted me to use 'traditional' methods, for lack of a non-neck-reining term here. LOL
 

MajorEpiphany

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May 19, 2008
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Michigan, USA
I have followed this thread and some of your others Major Epiphany.

When you were invited to trail ride, you quite rightly decided to take some lessons. I made my OH do the same.
And you chose the best school (I did the same when I started) so you don't like suggestions that you are being poorly taught.
But from your threads, I'd guess that some of the problems you are encountering are typical of people starting to ride late in life, like me, or returning after a long break.

I ride both UK and Western. When I ride Western I wear Wrangler riding jeans. I ride Western in my Ariat Terrain short boots. I don't wear chaps or half chaps.
As has been said, half chaps are to protect one's legs against English stirrup leathers which hang down in a loop and can pinch the skin of your leg between the two layers. One doesn't need them riding Western. And half chaps are not designed to fit over jeans, only over close fitting jods or beeches.

But I do recognise the advice about slipping. When learning in the UK, I was indeed told by a trainee teacher to get some half chaps to get a less slippery surface on the inside of my leg, to give leg stability?
If you are riding in worn or slippery trousers, (artificial fibre gets more slippery than cotton) wearing half chaps might help. I threw away my first pair of cheap jods after 3 years as they were so worn and slippery.

But when learning to ride, I didn't buy any special gear and just accepted very slow progress. The problem comes when an instructor is used to teaching young, physically active people for whom riding is (potentially) an Olympic sport. They are used to coaching athletes, have a different time frame and have asked too much of you too soon.

I didn't canter happily till I had been learning for 2 years. My OH was better taught and he cantered after one year. For adults, cantering is not a race against time. You may be going to the best school in the world, but your worried posts suggest that it is not instruction suited to you and your own particular situation.

The real solution to sitting still in canter or sitting trot is just saddle time. Having the weight on your seat and allowing your seat bones to be moved by the horse.

When one is newly back in the saddle, as you are, you body has to get re-accustomed to the canter - and that's all. The new body shape means re-learning. No one here has seen you ride. If the instructor did not allow you to ride with no stirrups, that may be because they felt your balance and security in the saddle was not yet secure enough for it to be safe?

I actually prefer riding without half chaps - without that added layer of material between me and the horse I get a closer feel of the horse.
The extra layer of clothing increases the width of the horse which means my hips need to spread more.

This question of width may be what is giving you a problem in canter? In winter in thick trousers or if I put on weight, I need to take up my stirrups. I think from a previous post that you may be heavier than I am. The extra width of your thighs may mean that you have to ride with your stirrups shorter than when you were young? Riding with shorter stirrups is fine for rising trot and forward seat in canter. Not so good sitting to jog or lope.

Shorter stirrups raise your center of gravity, and give you less stability sitting to canter, and it may be harder to keep your legs still riding Western canter than it would be if your legs were hanging straighter down the sides of the horse.

I am not saying that this is wrong - only that it may be a change from the way you felt in canter when you were younger. And your body needs to adapt and pick up new habits. In some ways I think NR shows it can be harder for returnees than it is for people like me and my OH who started riding really old -
Tho at least you already know that you can ride.

I am sorry that you have problems beyond riding at the moment, but I hope you wont abandon altogether your dream of getting back on a horse. A quiet trail ride with a friend (no canter) might eventually be a lovely way of relaxing and enjoying it again.

Thank you for your long informational post, and the fact that you've pieced together my situation through reading all my threads. :eek: I'll try to piece it together a little more....

When I rode western in my teens, it was merely at those pay-by-the-hour riding stables and I went couple times a year tops. When the horse knew it was time to turn around ~ and it was hungry ~ that will narrow down the few times I've ever "cantered." The word "canter" sounds so....so....pretty? Like a white-tailed deer frolicking through a field of daisies, doesn't it? On the contrary, you can just imagine my white-knuckled ride right into the barn!

When I took English lessons (20 years ago), it was only for a few months so I never got to canter, much less post-trot much. And that, my friend, is all the training I've ever had. So yes, you're probably right, I should be content in the saddle, trotting, for a year or two.

Having said my goal is to simply trail ride safely with a friend, taking 1-2 years of lessons doesn't seem necessary. At least to me anyway. So when the RI wanted to work on dressage, my mind went into "NO INTEREST" mode and I suggested learning the canter instead (reminding her of my goal). Thus, the pushing for time.

Weight. I'm apple-shaped. With two very very long and slender legs. Virtually no thighs. ;) I know what you described, and it makes sense, but that is not the case with me. In fact, we even lowered the stirrups a couple weeks back due to my knee problem...which never returned once we did that.
 
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