View Full Version : Eq. Critique from a single photo

Oct. 6, 2009, 09:48 PM
Sorry, but I wanted to ask for a critique on this one picture I have. I know my hands aren't where they should be, I've been riding breed circuit horses for a while :D I'm trying to work this horse to be competitive on the breed circuit while still maintaining the ability to be competitive at local H/J shows and eventing.

So how bad is my equitation?

This is a still from a video.


Oct. 6, 2009, 09:53 PM
Pic is blurry, but it looks like your stirrups are too long, and you are riding with droopy wrists, and no contact on the reins. It also looks like your feet are getting out in front of you.

horse n' around
Oct. 6, 2009, 10:10 PM
I agree with the too long stirrups. You don't have any weight in your heel. Your leg seems to be in a nice place, though, at the girth, not to far behind or ahead of you. Head is up, shoulders back. It kind of looks like you are perching on your crotch, but it is hard to tell. Maybe because you are reaching for your stirrups.

Oct. 7, 2009, 02:57 AM
Relax and sit on your bum :) You look to be perched forward, possibly made worse by the horse having a fairly low wither - or does he?? Something about that photo makes it look like you're sitting 10 miles up off his back. Can you move the saddle back a bit?
He looks happy and relaxed which is a credit to you.

Oct. 7, 2009, 02:59 AM
It looks like you are riding in a dressage saddle. It looks like a bigger saddle would help you a lot. If you shorten your sturrip in this saddle I think your knee will be over the front of the flap.

Oct. 7, 2009, 09:41 AM
The saddle is an older style Collegiate, no knee rolls. The seat is 17.5 which may sadly be too large :( The saddle fits the horse perfect. I'm also mid post in the picture, which may add me looking perched up on my crotch.

I will have someone actually come out and take photos, I can raise my stirrups quite a bit before I go over the front of the saddle. Crappy quality photo doesn't help distinguish between horse and saddle.

What can I do to fix my hands? There are a set of 'training forks' (western thing, like a running martingale) which is why the reins are drooped. You can kinda see it if you look at her extended front leg.

Oct. 7, 2009, 11:19 AM
I'll aggree with the long stirrups, but my real question is "If that saddle fits, what are you doing sitting Way Up There?" There seems to be a princess and the pea-type thing going on.

Oct. 7, 2009, 11:40 AM
What can I do to fix my hands? There are a set of 'training forks' (western thing, like a running martingale) which is why the reins are drooped. You can kinda see it if you look at her extended front leg.

I don't do breed shows so ignore me if this is 'incorrect' for that world....

Personally, I would ditch the training forks and maybe invest in a few dressage lessons or really good flat lessons from a H/J pro. If you want the mare to be competitive in the hunters she needs to start using her butt and working over her top line, not just setting her head. The first thing they will do is fix your hands and have you start riding with contact. You want a straight line from the bit to your elbow with your thumbs closer to vertical then horizontal (although I've never found the thumbs being exactly on top to be conducive to a soft hand). No flat hands, no kinking wrists.

Oct. 7, 2009, 12:40 PM
Some decent lessons from a decent trainer would help you enormously and that has been suggested to you before.

I HATE those training forks 95% of the time I see them. I hated them when I showed AQHA and Paint and even Arab. Get you out of position and get the horse out of whack while they develop all sorts of new evasions like crabbing along crooked with a rubber neck. Or just about standing on their noses as this one is.

Anyway, your hands are drooped because it looks like the horse is leaning on the fork, it's taunt here and you have no contact-almost looks like a loop in the reins. Horse is dumped on his front end leaning on that fork and raised in back as he leans and that's tipping you forward. Let him get his forehand up, balance on his back end and go more level and you will find better balance.

Even in the breed shows. BTDT. You don't have to get sucked into the wonderful world of gimmicks. The age old techniques produce the desired results-take more time tho. For want of a better word, basic dressage can also teach the horse to go in the desired "frame" but not dump on the forehand.

Oct. 7, 2009, 12:50 PM
Thanks. First time working her in forks and I'll dump them. She works off her hind end but brings her head up in an undesireable position for APHA. Maybe I'll just not care about that and focus more on proper flat work. I am working with a trainer who suggested the forks. They are strictly AQHA/APHA.

As saddle fit, it fits my horse like a glove. I think the seat may be too large for me though :( I will get closer photos for better examination.

Oct. 7, 2009, 01:02 PM
There are some very fine and classically trained folks in AQHA/APHA. I hate the common perception the breed show types are less knowledgeable, use more short cuts and it's OK in that venue-yeah, they got their dead weight JAWS but they don't get anywhere off the backyard and local levels against real competition. You certainly need to use better methods to really fix a problem if you wish to do well on the national level in their shows. I did quite well, thank you. Basic methods, very few gimmcks and then only when indicated after the basics were solid.

You have to build balance by driving the back to the front, not restraining the front so the back can catch up with it. The fork here is doing just that-and it's not really what it was originally intended for. That fork was a Western solution to how to use a running martingale (with a snaffle) without needing a breast collar. Period. Not as draw reins.

I'd start with lunging in side reins and alot of work on transitions and circles to teach self carriage and the muscle/balance needed for that and go from there.

Anyway, is this your horse? Can you take the time to do it right? And is it actually built to go with a level topline? Sometimes they just are not built to go long and low like a Hunter and some will never add sloooow to that for the breed shows.

Oct. 7, 2009, 01:03 PM
I would venture to say that your saddle is also too far forward which will put you fighting her motion.

Oct. 7, 2009, 01:16 PM
Very blurry picture and very hard to see.

From what I think I can see, it doesn't look like the saddle is a particularly good fit. Either it has a really weird shape or else it's on the narrow side and hovering well above where a well fitted saddle would be on the horse's back. It looks like you can fit a fist and a half, maybe more in that gullet?! And then you also seem to be hovering over the horse's back as a result (addition of some kind of white half pad may be adding to the problem. Really hard to see).

Horse is going completely hollow and not coming from behind. In that one still frame it is neither the kind of trot you want for a AQHA/APHA HUS horse OR for a USEF hunter horse. Look at the hollow behind the saddle... concave. You want that to be convex/flat with the push coming from the engine at the back on the horse. Instead you're riding front to back and the horse is bracing and hollowing its back. Horse also isn't tracking up well. Looks like the horse is bracing on the training aid. Horse looks like a flat mover and could probably be an overall better mover if ridden differently. Also, unless you a super ridiculously tall-- this horse doesn't look like the "type" for HUS, at least not at the very competitive level. They are big TALL lanky TBy looking types.

You are not sitting in the center of the saddle. You're crouched up on the pommel. I think this might relate to the saddle fit. Saddle doesn't look too big for you, but then again you're just perching over it and not sitting down in the middle of it. You don't look like you have weight down your leg. Agree that the stirrups are too long and also that you have a knee pinch going on. You also need to pick up your hands and have some contact (even if it's loose contact) with the horse's mouth. Elbows need to come back a smidge. Wrists need to lose the bend. Good posture. Good looking ahead.

Oct. 7, 2009, 01:19 PM
She works off her hind end but brings her head up in an undesireable position for APHA.

If she is REALLY working through from behind, she will drop her head. Anyway, you don't ride the head. And that's why the gagetry doesn't work. You have to get her moving FORWARD from behind, then the head will come into place, and LAST you work on going slow. You are doing it exactly backwards, tieing her head down, blocking the forward to slow her-- and as a result there's no thrust from behind and hollowness.

Oct. 7, 2009, 02:54 PM
Here are some photos from July before I started with a trainer again.

I'm going from showing, to breaking babies, to showing again. My eq. is ridiculous and I can't find a decent trainer in the area. I live in podunk, MI where everything is backyard cowboys.

I'm hoping to be moving within the next year or so to a more english friendly area.









This pic is probably close to 3 years old.


And this was a horse I lessoned with the trainer on.


I do feel ready to just give up all together. I just dropped some money on this saddle and still need to find funds for a western and a proper trainer. Anyone on here close enough to come give me some advice? I'm completely lost and discouraged.

Oct. 7, 2009, 02:57 PM
If she is REALLY working through from behind, she will drop her head. Anyway, you don't ride the head. And that's why the gagetry doesn't work. You have to get her moving FORWARD from behind, then the head will come into place, and LAST you work on going slow. You are doing it exactly backwards, tieing her head down, blocking the forward to slow her-- and as a result there's no thrust from behind and hollowness.

Ditto. Ditto. Ditto. Times a billion.

Oct. 7, 2009, 03:01 PM
I am not from your area so I don't know what to say in regards to recommending a trainer? Maybe start a different thread with your area in the title and see if anyone has a recommendation?

Is that the same saddle in the other shots of you riding English? It's... pretty awful for you from what the pictures show. Really doesn't help your position AT ALL. And you're recovering from a real chair seat. The good news is that the recent shot is BETTER so it's an improvement... but fixing your equitation is going to require the right tools (trainer, tack etc.) and the right techniques.

The horse is cute as a button. I like her. And I think she's a flat mover (that's a compliment for the hunters) and I think she can be an even BETTER mover when ridden back to front. I don't think she's the type to be a top top HUS horse or a AA hunter but is that really your goal? For a local level horse she's super cute and I think will be a nice mover once the wrinkles get ironed out.

No comment on the Western stuff, I have no experience there.

Oct. 7, 2009, 03:20 PM
The western was to show her movement. Both are different saddles. I'm having a hard time coming across a comfortable saddle to fit us both well. Both these saddles are close contact with no knee rolls, one is a 16" the recent is a 17.5".

I may have to suck it up and spend $$ on a nicer saddle that I can take out on trial. I have a Crosby PDN 16" and a Collegiate CC 17.5" right now. I think I need the knee rolls.

Oct. 7, 2009, 03:38 PM
Nobody NEEDS knee rolls, it is a personal preference for comfort-if they really hold you in, your position is out of whack.

Ummm... did you know that the seat size of a Hunt saddle is based on the length of your femur? Not your height or weight or anything like that-how long your thigh bone is. If you have an inch and a half difference in those 2 saddles something is going to way not fit you. See if you cannot determine what your proper seat size would be and go from there.

I think last time you were asking, we all suggested to look to other disciplines for a trainer, including Dressage. Michigan really is not a wasteland horse wise-except, maybe, the UP, Ohio jokes aside;), and some of the breed show peeps are quite good.

Ummm...can you come down to Colombus for a weekend trip and see Congress, meet and greet a little, ask around, SHOP and sit in some saddles? Like, the biggest shopping venue at the biggest horse show in the world.

Oct. 7, 2009, 03:39 PM
In the first picture - what is the white half pad under the saddle?

If as people suggested - your saddle is too narrow, putting more pads under it may not be a good thing. Can you not use that half pad? Maybe that would help with fit.

Where in MI are you? I know a good trainer (both English and Western) in Hillsdale if that is anywhere near you. PM me if interested.

Oct. 7, 2009, 04:44 PM
I'm over an hour north of Grand Rapids.

The 16" was way too small for me to comfortably ride in.

The white half pad thing is a comfort pad I bought at smartpak, I always use it when not showing or if I'm on a long ride.

I'm thinking I need to take a trip down to millbrooks sometime in the near future.

Oct. 7, 2009, 06:12 PM
Don't be discouraged. I know it's tough sometimes....believe me! I've lived all over and have had to do some serious searching for anything resembling a decent trainer at times. Sometimes I've had to settle for crappy and just go off of what I've already known. Other very good trainers have had to pay for that, but they're worth their weight and fix things well. Either way, take what YOU know and incorporate it. Just be aware that you might have to trailer quite a distance for the help you need. Even if it's only once or twice a month, it is well worth it.
Dressage lessons would do you the best in helping here. All riding is founded in dressage, and it does help hunters and their riders more than people sometimes want to admit. Something to keep in mind.
I think your hands will improve and somewhat fix themselves once you ditch the training fork (which you've already stated you will), shorten your reins, have a light contact on the horse's mouth, and just relax. Don't take a death grip, don't keep a loop, just a nice, pleasant, easy, light contact on the bit. Sometimes I think Western riding encourages a higher hand set, but yours really aren't that bad.
I like the horse. I think it's well suited to the hunters, at least per the stills and at least in the hack. I also don't think the head being a little higher is that big of a deal. If the horse is moving the way it should (from behind) that head will drop to where it should be on its own. Don't get caught up on a frame or head set. The horse is fine and sometimes it's a prettier picture to have a little more up than down (make sense?)
You do look wonky in the saddle, but it is very difficult to tell for sure in the picture. Your stirrups do look rather long, though. Beyond that, I'll not speculate.
You've received some great advice here, so be sure to do your best and heed it. Findeight and VX are very, very knowledgeable.