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  1. #1
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    Default Rider critique and level question? Updated vids Post 29

    Hi all,

    [edit: newest vids from today in #29. Also thank you so much to everyone who commented, I'm getting so much out of these critiques and hopefully will eventually canter properly ]

    I've never used tinypic, so I hope the links work.
    It's not the best videos, I need to get someone camera-savvy to take these next time.

    I'm hoping for a bit of a critique of the canter, recognizing that the videos aren't exactly great quality.
    Left rein, my worse side. I can't seem to connect property and sit my ass down, and I perpetually feel like I'm leaning too far back even though I actually seem to be leaning forward:

    http://tinypic.com/r/33bmzw4/7

    Right rein I'm usually better in that I can sit and stick to the horse all the way around the arena. Or, the usual arena; here for only the second time ever we're in the bigger outdoor that's ringed with horse-eating trees and sheds, so she's way more looky and not as relaxed as she often is at the canter, and she sped up towards the gate which threw me off:

    http://tinypic.com/r/2dh8vgm/7

    I'm also kind of curious also about how to describe myself as a rider, what level. I started riding as an adult in the summer of 2005. I've always ridden with an instructor (what I mean is that I continued in regular lessons, not that every ride was a lesson), but being in the military I had a lot of out of town courses, month-long or more field exercises and two deployments, so while I have technically been riding for 5 years there were breaks of as long as 7 months at a time in there.

    At this time I can trot pretty well with and without stirrups, I've jumped crossrails but nothing really higher (ok, I think a 2'3 once? Is that a measurement? I haven't asked to jump higher), and no more than 2 in a row so no courses. I haven't fallen off in a while when she (mildly) spooks, so yay. I can canter without stirrups, but no more than about once around the arena before I start getting unseated and transition down. Canter with stirrups you can see, not my best effort but it is around where I am. I'm currently working with a more dressage-slanted trainer and trying to adjust to sitting in the canter vs riding a bit more forward.

    So, beginner-beginner? Intermediate beginner? Advanced beginner? What the heck am I?
    Last edited by Coanteen; Jan. 9, 2011 at 08:44 PM. Reason: edit title with update



  2. #2
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    A designation is really subjective and means different things to different people. Comparing it with a group of people who show at rated shows 3' and up, I'd say, Advanced Beginner. If you were going to a resort where they have trail rides for everyone, I'd tell them you were an Intermediate/Advanced. People that show, have higher expectations of each level. People that show up to rent a horse for a guided trail ride, generally rate themselves higher, as someone that has been on a horse enough times to canter would say they are Intermediate.

    The main thing I noticed on your video is that you were very stiff, especially your elbows. Dropping your hands a little lower, and lifting your chest, by inhaling in deeply towards your diaphram, will keep your shoulders back, without the stiffness that pushing your shoulders back causes. Getting rid of the stiffness, will help you sit the canter more easily as well.



  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by jetsmom View Post
    The main thing I noticed on your video is that you were very stiff, especially your elbows. Dropping your hands a little lower, and lifting your chest, by inhaling in deeply towards your diaphram, will keep your shoulders back, without the stiffness that pushing your shoulders back causes. Getting rid of the stiffness, will help you sit the canter more easily as well.
    This! You are very stiff. Relax, riding is fun! Don't try to be too much of a perfectionist (a personal fault of mine!), focus on following the horse. Try having someone lunge you and close your eyes and really focus on the motion. Then, drop your reins (with them tied up so they won't fall down!). At first pretend they are still on the reins, then put your hands out to the side, above your head etc. If your mare is a little too spooky for you to feel comfortable doing this, see if there is a steady-eddy school horse you can use until you get the feeling. One day you will have that "aha!" moment and understand the feeling you are looking for.

    I also really like that you are practicing no stirrup work, it will do nothing but good! Remember to lead with your inside hip, too!



  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reagan View Post
    This! You are very stiff. Relax, riding is fun! Don't try to be too much of a perfectionist (a personal fault of mine!), focus on following the horse. Try having someone lunge you and close your eyes and really focus on the motion. Then, drop your reins (with them tied up so they won't fall down!). At first pretend they are still on the reins, then put your hands out to the side, above your head etc. If your mare is a little too spooky for you to feel comfortable doing this, see if there is a steady-eddy school horse you can use until you get the feeling. One day you will have that "aha!" moment and understand the feeling you are looking for.

    I also really like that you are practicing no stirrup work, it will do nothing but good! Remember to lead with your inside hip, too!
    It's not that she's that spooky - she is actually mostly a steady-eddy school horse. She's the horse I started riding on and bought off the school; she's 20. The new arena made her looky and faster, but not unsafe.

    I think I get the "aha" moment during sitting trot without stirrups, sometimes. I don't think I've gotten it in canter yet, or if I did it was only for a few strides

    I probably try to focus too much on stuff - hands, leg position, etc, to relax. Blah. Also I feel reclined when I'm clearly not.

    Clearly I'm not a natural at this



  5. #5

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    it looks like you are trying to bring your shoulders back with your head. Roll your shoulders back, chin relatively parallel to the ground. Take breathes with your movements, to help breathe and relax. Think of bringing your shoulders back and pushing your hips down and forward.

    I tell my students to step down in their stirrups with their toes, and hug the saddle with their thighs, to pull their legs down. push your horse forward with your belly out, either like you are preggers or like you are borrowing santa for a bit.

    Can you ride to music? or sing something? I ride with my ipod a lot and it does help me with the diff horses i ride. dance type music (lady gaga is one that always seems to have a great beat for sitting trot movements) can help you "dance" with your horse.

    Also, can you get lunge line lessons? those would def. help you get more of the feeling, no stirrups, no reins, and work on you. Those def help.



  6. #6
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    As another person who started riding as an 30-something adult, I think you look great! I don't know that I will ever have the look of a comfortable, relaxed rider...my hips really don't have any flexibility to them, and add that to the over-thinking adult brain, it's probably not pretty.

    Good for you for having a video tape to work from; the only times I've been filmed while riding is by my kids which basically mean that you hear them moaning and groaning about getting dizzy and the entire video is so shaky that you puke.

    I agree that your hands and shoulders look stiff, so I would maybe think about following more with your hands....breathing and not trying so hard (haha, my biggest fault). Good luck and have fun!



  7. #7
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    is the person speaking on your video your instructor? is that typical instructor dialog in your lessons?
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
    is the person speaking on your video your instructor? is that typical instructor dialog in your lessons?
    Yes, it is. But no, when I asked her to film she pretty much just watched the screen to make sure she could follow me with the camera, she wasn't really watching or correcting my position.
    (I think she was also "clicking" at...me).



  9. #9
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    I was curious because what I hear is a "what not a how" instructor. ....not a great way to communicate progression or action imho.
    do you feel you are progressing?
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
    I was curious because what I hear is a "what not a how" instructor. ....not a great way to communicate progression or action imho.
    do you feel you are progressing?
    I think I'm getting better at the canter, in that I'm not "connecting" and sitting for...a small period of time, before starting to bounce again. The instructor is trying to get me to feel what the horse is doing (at walk/trot too) so I can follow better. I just suck at the feeling.



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coanteen View Post
    I think I'm getting better at the canter, in that I'm not "connecting" and sitting for...a small period of time, before starting to bounce again. The instructor is trying to get me to feel what the horse is doing (at walk/trot too) so I can follow better. I just suck at the feeling.
    You will get it! Keep positive, relax and have fun up there! I think you look great, it is just a little tweaking a few more miles that will take you to that "next level". If you don't feel like what the instructor is doing is helping you, maybe try a few lessons else where. Some teaching methods work for some people, some don't.

    Relax, and follow with your hips like you are dancing instead of trying to keep everything still--which leads to bouncing. It is a down and forward motion, led by the inside hip. Focus on that more than your position. You get the feeling and your position will fall into place. I really think lunge lessons (I know I already said it but they really do wonders!) would help a lot so you can focus on yourself.

    Good luck!



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reagan View Post
    You will get it! Keep positive, relax and have fun up there! I think you look great, it is just a little tweaking a few more miles that will take you to that "next level". If you don't feel like what the instructor is doing is helping you, maybe try a few lessons else where. Some teaching methods work for some people, some don't.

    Relax, and follow with your hips like you are dancing instead of trying to keep everything still--which leads to bouncing. It is a down and forward motion, led by the inside hip. Focus on that more than your position. You get the feeling and your position will fall into place. I really think lunge lessons (I know I already said it but they really do wonders!) would help a lot so you can focus on yourself.

    Good luck!
    Thanks!
    Whoops though, "not connecting" should've been "now connecting". I think I managed to really sit the canter a few times, for a few strides at a time. I just can't keep it yet. I'll try it on the lunge next lesson and see how it goes.

    The instructor I think is a good one. I moved recently and just started with her. She's focusing mostly on my position in w/t/c (not obvious in the vids cause she was focusing on the screen; she's not camera savvy) and on getting my horse to move out as much as she can. No trying to get her into a "frame" before I'm good enough to get her there naturally, not pushing me beyond where I am or suggesting any kind of harsher aids I can't use because I'm not independent enough with my appendages yet. She's trying to get me to find the proper position to sit the canter before we do any real canter work, just baby steps



  13. #13
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    I feel your pain. I am a (hopefully reformed) canter-bouncer.

    What strikes me about the videos you posted is your lower back position. You are doing a bit of the "hunter princess" pose - arching your back and sticking your butt out a bit. It's not terrible, and I only notice it because I do it, too.

    Usually, that also means you are gripping with your thighs and knees, as well. Think about sitting back, and reaching UP with that upper chest, and let your hips swing. One of my instructors tells me to think about pretending to canter on a stick horse - it's a very good analogy for me!

    And finally, I noticed you get a bit forward when you ask for the canter. Again, nothing terrible, but even a slight lean will result in your horse going more on the forehand and it makes it that much harder to sit into the canter. Ask for a half-halt, then swing those hips UP into canter. It's much nicer to sit that way.



  14. #14
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    Beginner, Advanced Beginner, Intermediate??? What the heck are you?
    You are Anna!!!!
    Caught you!
    Come back to Canada and I will teach you how to canter without stirrups!



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetraRiedel View Post
    Beginner, Advanced Beginner, Intermediate??? What the heck are you?
    You are Anna!!!!
    Caught you!
    Come back to Canada and I will teach you how to canter without stirrups!
    NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! CANTERING WITHOUT STIRRUPS BRINGS THE DEATH!



  16. #16
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    Thanks for all the critiques!

    I had NO IDEA I looked so...awkward, with my back arched, head in the air and butt stuck out. Wow. Clearly my perception of my own body in space sucks.

    I'm working on a more natural-looking seat and I think it's going ok. My instructor made another video today (again, just ignore most of what she says; when she's filming her face is stuck to the camera and she herself tells me she barely sees when I'm doing).

    It was darkish out (and started snowing at the end of the lesson, booo), but the last 20 sec of the video or so should be light enough to see. Any better?

    http://tinypic.com/r/qoez4n/7



  17. #17
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    I am by no means an expert but if I were you I'd work on relaxing your arms and letting your elbow hang below your shoulder. When you were posting, your arms were out in front and looked stiff, and your hands came up when you did. I used to do this too! Let your elbow open and close when you post. Maybe rising trot on the longe without reins can help so you can learn to post independent of your hands. Good luck!

    ETA: another poster recommended music. I TOTALLY agree. It keeps you relaxed and having fun and, depending on what you listen to, it can help make your work more rhythmic and energetic.

    Also, I agree with the folks asking about the trainer. I don't think just saying things like "collect her up" is very helpful. But maybe she was different for the camera.



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by alg0181 View Post
    I am by no means an expert but if I were you I'd work on relaxing your arms and letting your elbow hang below your shoulder. When you were posting, your arms were out in front and looked stiff, and your hands came up when you did. I used to do this too! Let your elbow open and close when you post. Maybe rising trot on the longe without reins can help so you can learn to post independent of your hands. Good luck!

    ETA: another poster recommended music. I TOTALLY agree. It keeps you relaxed and having fun and, depending on what you listen to, it can help make your work more rhythmic and energetic.

    Also, I agree with the folks asking about the trainer. I don't think just saying things like "collect her up" is very helpful. But maybe she was different for the camera.
    She is completely different for the camera, it makes her sound inane. Her face is actually glued to the camera as if it had a viewfinder (which it doesn't), and she goes on autopilot, clicking at me and repeating phrases.
    Oddly we're not working on "collecting" her at all, at least not as I understand that term in dressage. She's not fit enough yet and I'm not quiet enough with my seat/hands/pretty much everything. We're just working on getting her going forward and listening to me right away when I cue transitions or direction changes. So those are just camera-autopilot phrases.

    Gah, I know, my hands always come up. Trainer and I have had many discussions



  19. #19
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    You are doing fine for where you are, now you need to keep loosening up and advancing.

    Transitions are not just for the horses, but also for the riders, so they don't keep trying and trying and trying and stiffer and stiffer ... you get the idea.

    Do more, change rein sooner, circle, serpentines, changing gaits also all along, ride squares at the walk.
    Always remember the horse you are riding, an old schoolie and be fair and kind to her by not overworking her, you both can do much along with taking it easy.
    She does tend to hurry there, which makes working easier.
    Maintaining the right tempo and changes is hard work, but that is what will balance her and will get her fit best eventually.

    The more and more varied you do, the sooner you will conquer an independent, soft and effective seat.

    Does your riding school have fun days, with broom polo and ring games?



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coanteen View Post
    She is completely different for the camera, it makes her sound inane. Her face is actually glued to the camera as if it had a viewfinder (which it doesn't), and she goes on autopilot, clicking at me and repeating phrases.
    Oddly we're not working on "collecting" her at all, at least not as I understand that term in dressage. She's not fit enough yet and I'm not quiet enough with my seat/hands/pretty much everything. We're just working on getting her going forward and listening to me right away when I cue transitions or direction changes. So those are just camera-autopilot phrases.

    Gah, I know, my hands always come up. Trainer and I have had many discussions
    I saw that you mentioned that earlier, sorry to make you repeat yourself. I understand, when I'm on camera I freeze and say really dumb things.



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