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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May. 23, 2012
    Location
    Muskoka, Ontario CANADA
    Posts
    235

    Default Tyranasaurus arms...

    I ride dressage and have managed to get up to Prix St George in the past (when I was young and er...supple). However, these days I am hitting middle age and like to putter at the lower levels with my greenie boy.

    My biggest issue is that I have arms as short as a T-Rex. :S Its quite difficult for me to open and drop my shoulders back as quite literally, my hands are essentially at my hips. I have had chiro, laser work and ART done to work on the short and tight ligaments etc as well as stretching the arms back in doorways etc.

    Anyone else suffer from short arm syndrome and what have you done to help work with/through it?

    Thanks all!
    www.muskokalakesconnemaras.com
    Wonderful ponies for family or show!



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun. 15, 2001
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    1,107

    Default

    I have short arms! Apparent solution? Ride horse with a higher set neck, conformationally. That's what I was told, and it explained a lot to me.

    PS I don't ride dressage, but your title was very eye-catching.
    Last edited by BravAddict; May. 24, 2012 at 01:08 PM. Reason: PS, and clarity
    Disclaimer: My mom told me that people might look at my name and think I had an addiction other than horses. I don't; his name was Bravado.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr. 9, 2012
    Location
    NYC=center of the universe
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    1,914

    Default

    Um, yeah, short little stumps here, especially in proportion to the legs. And my horse likes a low head carriage. I wish she liked a higher head carriage but she's my heart horse, so...

    Curious if there are any tricks myself.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr. 5, 2012
    Posts
    659

    Default

    I don't know if this will help any, but I recently went to a dressage symposium/clinic and the trainer said to imagine your body as being one giant pelvis with t-rex arms . That way, you weren't just using your hands and arms for steering and such, but you were using your whole body. I don't know if you already ride this way; kudos to you if you do--I just switched trainers and she's having me ride this way, and holy crap on a cracker...it's hard, but it works!
    Just a thought
    If i smell like peppermint, I gave my horse treats.
    If I smell like shampoo, I gave my horse a bath.
    If I smell like manure, I tripped.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec. 13, 2006
    Location
    SW WA
    Posts
    76

    Default

    LOL Love the description! I'll have to try to remember that on my next ride.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    May. 24, 2007
    Location
    Lubbock, TX
    Posts
    1,607

    Default

    I have a different problem--not to swipe your thread--but I have upper arms that think they're thighs. I have a hard time holding them against my body!

    Love the "giant pelvis" description. I'll have to try thinking about that!
    --Becky in TX
    Clinic Blogs and Rolex Blogs
    She who throws dirt is losing ground.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun. 13, 2001
    Location
    usa
    Posts
    6,097

    Default

    Moot point, alignment is alignment. IF the upper arms do not 'hang vertically' the seat cannot be used effectually (and minimally). Straight line from elbow to horse's mouth, but the upper arms cannot be given away. It changes your balance, it changes the nuance of the seat's use.

    The carriage of the horse (properly up and open) is a product of what/how the rider asked. And although there are nuances of the conformation of the how the neck comes out of the shoulders, the horse is either ridden with the chest lifted and a slightly open posture or it is not. Part of learning how to train.
    I.D.E.A. yoda



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan. 30, 2010
    Location
    Alberta
    Posts
    3,504

    Default

    I have a short armed student on a long/low necked draft cross.

    Once she learned to sit back, and keep her shoulder blades together so the horse couldn't pull her arms forward, she discovered her legs and seat could be more effective and the arms were no longer an issue. Let your reins get longer or shorter as needed if you need to let your horse have a longer or shorter neck.

    I think long arms let you get away with more and that having short arms will force you to be more effective/correct.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    May. 25, 2006
    Location
    Nor Cal
    Posts
    1,952

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ideayoda View Post
    Moot point, alignment is alignment. IF the upper arms do not 'hang vertically' the seat cannot be used effectually (and minimally). Straight line from elbow to horse's mouth, but the upper arms cannot be given away. It changes your balance, it changes the nuance of the seat's use.

    The carriage of the horse (properly up and open) is a product of what/how the rider asked. And although there are nuances of the conformation of the how the neck comes out of the shoulders, the horse is either ridden with the chest lifted and a slightly open posture or it is not. Part of learning how to train.
    Very much in agreement---Ive just come in from working on my T-Rex Arm (have one arm that is almost always 'given away" in a crunched up sort of T-Rex way). Having focused most of my ride on keeping both arms close to my body but still mobilized (softly following the connection while maintaining alignment to the bit)--and more correct alignment of my head, hip seat and leg- I ended up having one of those real lightbulb moments and could feel where the real source of my 'crunched up arm' issue seemed to be...doesnt seem to be in my arm at all...but more my left leg/side weakness where the toe wants to roll outward and the calf/thigh following suit. Was very interesting to discover. When I rotated my toe-calf-thigh more more inward with my calf resting more correctly on my ponys side the the arm issue seemed to resolve--or at least it seemed to FEEL lots better. Pony became much more through and even on both reins--and more accepting of my seat/leg aides.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug. 14, 2004
    Posts
    7,538

    Default

    for me i think the "ah-ha" moment was when i realized that i probably will never be able to have my hands way in front of me like some can - because when my elbows are at my sides my hands are right over the top of the pommel of my saddle.... ie they are far too short to reach my horses neck. I also cant reach out and scratch the neck if i don't lean forward.

    once i got that then i stopped trying to look like i had long arms.. and i explain it to any trainer that tell me to put my hands on the neck (or what have you) ... no can do and still keep proper alignment.

    so, i guess all of that is to say - just ride with your elbows at your sides as Ideayopda says and all will be well
    also you might go watch rides of D McDonald - she is very short and was able to ride quite well even so!)



  11. #11
    Join Date
    May. 23, 2012
    Location
    Muskoka, Ontario CANADA
    Posts
    235

    Default

    The comment "don't ride like you have long arms" totally resonated with me I am guilty of that to be sure!! I did ride alot of jumpers too, so shorter rein with arms carried up and out front. Old habits die hard

    Going to try to incorporate the "brain change" of how I ride... Going to concentrate on riding with the body I have, not the one I THINK I should have. Neat....

    Thanks folks!!
    www.muskokalakesconnemaras.com
    Wonderful ponies for family or show!



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul. 20, 2004
    Posts
    1,798

    Default

    I bet the suspender reins imagery would help with this too.

    My favorite instructor shared this with me, to help me with my habit of riding with too-long reins, but it helped so many other things just fall into line too (like my busy hands and awkward elbows, and sloppy shoulders).

    She told me to imagine the reins coming through my hands, then up over my shoulders and down my back like suspenders, buttoning to my belt at my lower back. Then she told me to steer, turn, halt/half-halt using my "suspenders." It's funny, every other instructor I've ridden with would focus on the hands or elbows or shoulders to fix the problem, but her imagery connected the reins to my seat and the result was instantaneous and amazing, for me and the horse. That right there was worth the $80 lesson to me. Taking my hands/elbows and shoulders out of the equation was the key. I really need to get back to her soon, she is awesome.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul. 31, 2007
    Posts
    14,888

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    The short-armed have a bona fide biomechanical problem.

    We benefit from an uphill-built horse. And it would be great for us if we could just skip to the upper levels. But with a horse who does need to travel in a longer, lower frame, it won't be as easy for us.

    Coming from hunter world, my usual "work around" for this handicap has been to ride leaning a bit forward. I think I sit up on my pubic bone in dressage world, too. It half-way does the job. But if I keep my hands appropriately low for the horse, I have to straighten my elbows (almost) and I tend to round my shoulders. That's a tough mental- and physical habit to break, let me tell you!

    The problem with those straight arms/rounded shoulders is that I want to put my elbows out, chicken style. That lets the horse run into a relatively stiff "outside" of my arm. No good!

    I think I have to think about opening up my chest, riding from my shoulders and the sides of my body-- no tension in the arms. It sounds exaggerated, but that's the only way I can "unfurl" or "uncrumple" the front of my body and my shoulders. Riding a horse from the shoulders is softer.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb. 18, 2010
    Location
    Midwest
    Posts
    96

    Default

    Great advice all around! I'll have to bring this thread to mind, as I also am a short limbed rider. I think it's great that I'm not the only one who refers to my arms as being t-rex-like.
    "A canter is a cure for every evil." -Benjamin Disraeli



  15. #15
    Join Date
    May. 13, 2012
    Posts
    196

    Default

    Whoa there friends! Doesn't matter how short your arms are, keep them bent at the elbow, and carry them at a 90 degree angle (ish). The horse can yield just as well if your hands are high, as long as they aren't too high and you're arms are following and supple. Make sure the reins are long enough though.

    Take a look at all the Olympic and Grand Prix riders; their hands are high, they aren't low like the modern hunters like to ride.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct. 30, 2009
    Posts
    1,891

    Default

    Me too. And my legs don't go all the way to the ground either.....LOL. I just have to have a longer rein from hand to bit, than some others. Not looser, just longer to keep the straight line from elbow to bit.



  17. #17
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    Oct. 29, 2003
    Location
    Ocala, FL
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    Default

    Thanks for the laugh! Check these out - such a funny visual

    http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/s/short_arms.asp



  18. #18
    Join Date
    May. 13, 2004
    Location
    NW CT
    Posts
    837

    Default

    There's no reason that a short-armed rider should be compromised in their equitation. Your head-hip-heel alignment will be the same in the saddle as a tall rider. You will have a straight line from elbow to bit. If your arms are short, your reins will be longer. If your horse's head is down, the angle of your elbow will be larger. If your horse's head is up, the angle of your elbow will be smaller. The length of your torso will also determine the exact angle for you, which is particular to every rider but will change as the horse's head carriage changes.

    Any problems in the shoulders of the short-armed rider have nothing to do with length of body parts or biomechanics. Problems in the shoulders are often due to stiffness in the arms (whatever length they are) but, surprisingly, just as often due to problems in the hips. Locking the shoulders is a common way that riders attempt to stabilize their bodies. The answer is to allow more movement in the joints -- in the shoulder joint especially but also in the elbow and all the leg joints.

    Massage and other bodywork can be very helpful, as can yoga or other exercise that gives you a greater range of motion. Lunge lessons without reins can confirm that any problems in your shoulders are not, in fact, related to your arms but are independent of them.
    Last edited by easyrider; May. 25, 2012 at 12:12 PM. Reason: straight line from elbow to bit!
    The aids are the legs, the hands, the weight of the rider, the whip, the caress, the voice and the use of extraneous circumstances. ~ General Decarpentry
    www.reflectionsonriding.com



  19. #19
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    Jul. 31, 2007
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    14,888

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arab_Mare View Post
    Whoa there friends! Doesn't matter how short your arms are, keep them bent at the elbow, and carry them at a 90 degree angle (ish). The horse can yield just as well if your hands are high, as long as they aren't too high and you're arms are following and supple. Make sure the reins are long enough though.

    Take a look at all the Olympic and Grand Prix riders; their hands are high, they aren't low like the modern hunters like to ride.
    Well... the next poster disagrees on that 90-degrees thing being good for all. They'd iike a straight line from elbow to mouth. The point is that someone with short arms will usually have their hands too high for the horse if they insist on 90 degrees for all times and places. That's true unless we shorties only ever ride very uphill upper-level horses. Given my handicap, can't I get this kind of help? Isn't there a law?

    Quote Originally Posted by easyrider View Post
    There's no reason that a short-armed rider should be compromised in their equitation. Your head-hip-heel alignment will be the same in the saddle as a tall rider. You will have a straight line from elbow to bit. If your arms are short, your reins will be longer. If your horse's head is down, the angle of your elbow will be larger. If your horse's head is up, the angle of your elbow will be smaller. The length of your torso will also determine the exact angle for you, which is particular to every rider but will change as the horse's head carriage changes.

    Any problems in the shoulders of the short-armed rider have nothing to do with length of body parts or biomechanics. Problems in the shoulders are often due to stiffness in the arms (whatever length they are) but, surprisingly, just as often due to problems in the hips. Locking the shoulders is a common way that riders attempt to stabilize their bodies. The answer is to allow more movement in the joints -- in the shoulder joint especially but also in the elbow and all the leg joints.

    Massage and other bodywork can be very helpful, as can yoga or other exercise that gives you a greater range of motion. Lunge lessons without reins can confirm that any problems in your shoulders are not, in fact, related to your arms but are independent of them.

    My other problem, then, is my short torso. I have legs only, it would appear. I also think that relaxing the shoulders means that the rider need to stabilize her "flapping in the wind" upper body somehow. Cheaters from Hunter World like me get very stiff and strong in the hips. But the real cure is more core strength. I don't think anyone will relax a part of their body if that means they'll fall off.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  20. #20
    Join Date
    May. 13, 2004
    Location
    NW CT
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    Default

    Upper level dressage (and jumper) riders can carry their hands higher because their horses carry their heads higher. Still, straight line from elbow to bit is the rule, and it's a good one, because it allows a true connection. Hands that are too low, as we sometimes see in hunter/jumper riders, block feel as much as hands that are too high.

    The only way to stabilize the body atop a moving horse is with balance. Some of us have that innately but we still all need some amount of strength. But it's not a rigid strength, it's whatever strength we need to hold ourselves in balance (which means allowing our body to move). Think of Philippe Petit. He doesn't stay on that rope through rigidity.

    In terms of biomechanics, a short torso is an advantage, because there is a smaller perpendicular element to balance atop the moving horse. Another thing (even though this is the dressage forum) that makes William Fox-Pitt all the more amazing.
    The aids are the legs, the hands, the weight of the rider, the whip, the caress, the voice and the use of extraneous circumstances. ~ General Decarpentry
    www.reflectionsonriding.com



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