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  1. #1
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    Default Rider Fitness, And "Stickability"

    I have often wondered this, As I had experienced being over weight, then losing a bunch of weight and riding so much better and more secure.
    What I wonder is, And Please do not slam me, I adore this woman, She can ride the sides off anything, and make it look easy. Her dressage is impeccable.
    I can't help wondering if BH would have stay on that tip of Can't fire me, had she had less weight, and would have been able to stay back more. I know I had a problem several years ago, and No matter how much I rode, the excess weight effected my center of gravity.
    So the question, How fit and in shape should an upper lever event ride be to gain optimum performance, Or do you feel it does not matter. Certainly had no effect on her Dressage. and up until her fall I thought her ride on Cross country was stellar. I have followed Her for many years, one of my favorite Upper level riders, And I have seen her compete in my home state as well, So do not think I am dissing her.
    The person I was watching Cross country with is not a horse person, but said I bet she would have stayed on if she was not over weight.
    Do you find your riding is effected by weight?
    Let's discuss.
    I have an ulterior motive, A student that has steadily put on weight and whos riding has stalled as a result.
    "you can only ride the drama llama so hard before it decides to spit in your face." ?Caffeinated.


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  2. #2
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    Jan. 14, 2006
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    Weight aside (yes, you ride better when you're skinnier, I know from experience..) but I ALSO know that when you're built up top like Becky or Heather or ME... you're just plain top heavy and it doesn't matter how skinny you get. You're still top heavy.


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  3. #3
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    Feb. 4, 2004
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    "Fitness" is hard to judge from a photo.

    I do think having a higher center of gravity (long waisted, broad shouldered, top heavy, whatever) is a challenge, as you have more weight above the horse to control.

    That said, there successful riders of a wide variety of body types (one thing I like about this sport). I'm be *very* hesitant to blame any specific incident on fitness. We never know what *would* have happened *if*.


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  4. #4
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    Jul. 19, 2003
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    Ugh. Touchy subject. BH is a very good rider, but I always feel a little bad for her because I think she struggles a lot with her weight....it seems to fluxuate A LOT from year to year, and I have to think, especially as a high performance athlete, that has to be frustrating. My gut says she's probably seriously fit in most senses.

    I think you have to be QUITE fit to get that job done well. You have to gallop for 12 minutes, jumping big jumps, and you need to have your wits about you so you can't be tired. There is a level of cardio strength and fitness you need, but also a level of core strength (I mean, I only have ridden at prelim thus far, but I KNOW when my core is lacking to gallop 5-6 minutes straight).

    But, by fit I don't necessarily mean stick thin (in fact, I tend to think having some meat on you and muscles helps you maintain and last better than if you're a waif). But I do think you need to be fit and strong.

    I haven't seen BH's fall, so I really can't safely give ANY commentary on what might have happened. My guess is she's probably a beast (strong and fit), and it was an unfortunate fall....could it have been prevented had she been carrying less weight???? Really no way of knowing.


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  5. #5
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    I watched that fall on the replay last night and I think it is really hard to stay on when your horse basically tips sideways. You are going at a fairly good speed and when they catch a leg it totally slows the momentum so when the shoulder dropped out she didn't have much of a shot. I am not sure if many riders could have saved themselves from that particular fall.

    She didn't look tired and that was the last minute of the course. I imagine she is very fit regardless of her weight. She is a beautiful rider who competes and rides many horses.


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  6. #6
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    Default

    Good question, the physics of that are interesting. Tall riders like WFP certainly have a lot more weight above the saddle than shorter riders of the same skinny build and certainly that extra height/weight is a bit unbalancing. I don't think it's a matter of fitness so much as it is just controlling and containing the inertia of the greater weight. I would have to think for BH or any rider carrying more weight above the saddle it would be disadvantageous and would require a greater degree of core strength to control.


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  7. #7
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    I think it makes a huge difference...being toned as opposed to having extra fat on every inch of your body. Even an inch on your thighs and some around your waist will make it more difficult for you to ride. That doesn't mean that skinny people are fit either. The more core strength you have, the better off you will be.


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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by riderboy View Post
    Good question, the physics of that are interesting. Tall riders like WFP certainly have a lot more weight above the saddle than shorter riders of the same skinny build and certainly that extra height/weight is a bit unbalancing. I don't think it's a matter of fitness so much as it is just controlling and containing the inertia of the greater weight. I would have to think for BH or any rider carrying more weight above the saddle it would be disadvantageous and would require a greater degree of core strength to control.
    Exactly. I often wonder about WFP and other really tall riders, how they manage to not cause their horse problems.
    I realize very thin riders can also be very unfit,
    My problem I am trying to relate to my student, who has no core strength, and carries her weight in her upper body, why she is having problems with balance, and control with her horse.
    Her horse is VERY easily influenced by weight, he is fun in that sense, because he is very sensitive, but her being heavy has really cause problems in that area with his very sensitive self.
    "you can only ride the drama llama so hard before it decides to spit in your face." ?Caffeinated.



  9. #9
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    Exactly. I often wonder about WFP and other really tall riders, how they manage to not cause their horse problems.
    I am neither tall nor terribly thin (fairly average, really). But my guess is that a very tall rider like WFP or Sir Toddy, while tall with lots of weight up top, is more evenly distributed. Easier to control than someone who carries a lot of weight up top, but in a more condensed fashion, if you that makes any sense (I suck at physics).

    Having been involved with some heavier, unfit riders, yes, their weight can greatly influence their horses in a variety of ways. From pulled rails all the way up to sore backs or front ends.

    How to encourage your rider to get stronger, well, that's the tough part!


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  10. #10
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    Default

    WFP was speaking at Rolex about how long it took him to learn how to balance ona horse. He spent years perfecting his seat.


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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sannois View Post
    Exactly. I often wonder about WFP and other really tall riders, how they manage to not cause their horse problems.
    What I find interesting about WFP is that even with as tall as he is his stirrups are cranked way higher than most. I watched him and Buck walk/hack around the schooling ring side by side after the jog Sunday. Buck was about 90° at the knee and WFP looked around 70°. (Of course, they are opposites in body type!!) But even being top heavy just because of his size he stays *above* his horse instead of *on* his horse. In that loosening up ride Sunday am, other than walking he posted the trot (changed diagonals in the air instead of sitting one) and cantered out of the tack--horse was still connected and in a frame he just wasn't sitting on him. It was unlike anyone else in the ring.

    BH I have no comment. She's taken enough grief and already paid enough unfair dues because of her body type.


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  12. #12
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    I don't know the rider in question, so I can't comment on that.

    But, for your student...as a tall 5'11" female who is "top heavy" AND has put on extra weight. My riding as an adult beginner up in Northern Virginia improved dramatically with professional Pilates instruction - on a reformer - and an excellent Centered Riding instructor. I have mild scoliosis and am very uneven / unbalanced generally, so the Pilates work helped me get my core strong and my body even. I also started sitting on an exercise ball at work, and I did do weight watchers. But, I didn't change what I ate -- just tracking it and making sure I moved enough to make up for it. I do often think a large bust is just a major hindrance in riding and fitness and negatively affects posture.

    After moving to fattest state in the land, I am completely out of shape core and weight wise -- need to find a good pilates instructor & riding instructor down here and start over
    Disclaimer: Just a beginner who knows nothing about nothing


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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jleegriffith View Post
    I watched that fall on the replay last night and I think it is really hard to stay on when your horse basically tips sideways. You are going at a fairly good speed and when they catch a leg it totally slows the momentum so when the shoulder dropped out she didn't have much of a shot. I am not sure if many riders could have saved themselves from that particular fall.

    She didn't look tired and that was the last minute of the course. I imagine she is very fit regardless of her weight. She is a beautiful rider who competes and rides many horses.
    This! When I watched that fall I thought to myself that there was no saving that one, I don't care who you are. Is it easier to save yourself when you're fitter? Of course, no question. But there are also situations that can't be salvaged.
    \"In all manners of opinion, our adversaries are insane.\" Mark Twain


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  14. #14
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    Nov. 8, 2001
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    Quote Originally Posted by subk View Post
    What I find interesting about WFP is that even with as tall as he is his stirrups are cranked way higher than most. I watched him and Buck walk/hack around the schooling ring side by side after the jog Sunday. Buck was about 90° at the knee and WFP looked around 70°. (Of course, they are opposites in body type!!) But even being top heavy just because of his size he stays *above* his horse instead of *on* his horse. In that loosening up ride Sunday am, other than walking he posted the trot (changed diagonals in the air instead of sitting one) and cantered out of the tack--horse was still connected and in a frame he just wasn't sitting on him. It was unlike anyone else in the ring.

    BH I have no comment. She's taken enough grief and already paid enough unfair dues because of her body type.
    I noticed exactly that about WFP, too. I am 6'3", so I always watch the tall riders particularly. Speaking for myself, I also spent years in my youth working only on position, lots with an instructor and lots with a few horses who *would not jump* if I got ahead with my long lever of an upper body. In a way I wish everyone would have that instant feedback that some horses give to tall riders until they learn how to manage the levers of long arms, torso and legs; but I can tell you the learning process isn't pretty. I tend to have a much more upright position and shorter stirrup like WFP too. (I am very much not in his league, just saying our body types indicated the same solutions for the physics realities.) Interestingly, I also switch diagonals in the air instead of sitting two, where did that come from?

    To the Becky question for the OP, first, God I love her. She is a most, kind, funny, thoughtful, knowledgeable instructor and good person. I wondered for a moment whether her horse struggling late on course had something to do with her weight, but then I realized she is a brilliantly balanced, experienced rider who probably weighs less than WFP. He is very thin, yes, but the infrastructure still weighs a lot. I think Becky got unlucky. All sorts of brilliance was eliminated on Saturday, including Mary King, another one I am a huge fan of. No one is questioning Mary's weight. I seriously thought her horse was running away from her though. Is Mary King too thin and not strong enough? Ha ha. Just kidding, but it proves a point that we are quick to judge the heavier rider where we let the others go without a thought.

    For your student, she knows she is overweight. I would privately explain that she has the choice to either advance in her riding or not, and it is largely dependent on her commitment to her weight AND her riding. To some, advancement is not worth a lifestyle change, and that is an acceptable choice. I would have this conversation because I have found that some people do not see that the two things - improved fitness and improved performance - are related. Astounding, but true.

    Good luck


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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sannois View Post
    Exactly. I often wonder about WFP and other really tall riders, how they manage to not cause their horse problems.
    I realize very thin riders can also be very unfit,
    My problem I am trying to relate to my student, who has no core strength, and carries her weight in her upper body, why she is having problems with balance, and control with her horse.
    Her horse is VERY easily influenced by weight, he is fun in that sense, because he is very sensitive, but her being heavy has really cause problems in that area with his very sensitive self.
    I think most of us have some sort of physical disadvantage we have to work with, and if we're lucky it's also one we can turn into a strength. I'm super short, which means my legs can't hang on well, but at the same time I'm able to have a draping leg (since my legs can't grip anyway!) and still keep my balance well with my low center of balance.

    I've seen a woman who is a similar body type to WFP who falls off ALL the time. It's a lot of body to balance, she tenses up at dressage shows or events and easily gets her horse off balance. Her horse then stops x-country and she comes off because her balance is too far off to help herself. WFP is the other end of the spectrum where that much height can be used to help stabilize the horse when needed, but my guess is despite being so thin he is EXTREMELY strong and veyr well balanced. Another long and lean type is Edward Gal - I don't think it's a coincidence that he sits so very, very still at that height - I doubt with his build he could be anywhere near the amazing rider he is if he weren't more still than the more average body types. Heather Blitz uses her height/torso length a little differently, but since she rides a GP horse she had bred for her she was able to go with a BIG horse to help minimize effects as well.

    I think Becky has publicly discussed her very hard time trying to deal with her weight, and I feel for her. I am heavier than ideal and my body just doesn't want me to be thin. But I'm not an elite athlete and it doesn't make me top-heavy. I'm sure she is extremely fit, but would rather weigh less if it were possible without even greater heroic efforts on her part, as it sounds like the efforts she makes now (from interviews I've read) are pretty heroic in themselves.
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed


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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sannois View Post
    My problem I am trying to relate to my student, who has no core strength, and carries her weight in her upper body, why she is having problems with balance, and control with her horse.
    Her horse is VERY easily influenced by weight, he is fun in that sense, because he is very sensitive, but her being heavy has really cause problems in that area with his very sensitive self.
    I found out that with my nephew up on my shoulders in the swimming pool, the more he moved around the harder it was to keep my balance. I know a couple of nice riders who are weebles and have a much harder time balancing in the saddle, lack of core strength making that much worse.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jealoushe View Post
    WFP was speaking at Rolex about how long it took him to learn how to balance ona horse. He spent years perfecting his seat.
    Well, there's hope for me then!

    Quote Originally Posted by subk View Post
    What I find interesting about WFP is that even with as tall as he is his stirrups are cranked way higher than most. I watched him and Buck walk/hack around the schooling ring side by side after the jog Sunday. Buck was about 90° at the knee and WFP looked around 70°. (Of course, they are opposites in body type!!) But even being top heavy just because of his size he stays *above* his horse instead of *on* his horse. In that loosening up ride Sunday am, other than walking he posted the trot (changed diagonals in the air instead of sitting one) and cantered out of the tack--horse was still connected and in a frame he just wasn't sitting on him. It was unlike anyone else in the ring.
    .
    We saw WFP warming up before his first XC ride and I was shocked at how short his strirrups were. They weren't jockey short but they were certainly less than 90 degrees.


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  17. #17
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    Jun. 20, 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by Camstock View Post
    I noticed exactly that about WFP, too. I am 6'3", so I always watch the tall riders particularly. Speaking for myself, I also spent years in my youth working only on position, lots with an instructor and lots with a few horses who *would not jump* if I got ahead with my long lever of an upper body. In a way I wish everyone would have that instant feedback that some horses give to tall riders until they learn how to manage the levers of long arms, torso and legs; but I can tell you the learning process isn't pretty. I tend to have a much more upright position and shorter stirrup like WFP too. (I am very much not in his league, just saying our body types indicated the same solutions for the physics realities.) Interestingly, I also switch diagonals in the air instead of sitting two, where did that come from?

    To the Becky question for the OP, first, God I love her. She is a most, kind, funny, thoughtful, knowledgeable instructor and good person. I wondered for a moment whether her horse struggling late on course had something to do with her weight, but then I realized she is a brilliantly balanced, experienced rider who probably weighs less than WFP. He is very thin, yes, but the infrastructure still weighs a lot. I think Becky got unlucky. All sorts of brilliance was eliminated on Saturday, including Mary King, another one I am a huge fan of. No one is questioning Mary's weight. I seriously thought her horse was running away from her though. Is Mary King too thin and not strong enough? Ha ha. Just kidding, but it proves a point that we are quick to judge the heavier rider where we let the others go without a thought.

    For your student, she knows she is overweight. I would privately explain that she has the choice to either advance in her riding or not, and it is largely dependent on her commitment to her weight AND her riding. To some, advancement is not worth a lifestyle change, and that is an acceptable choice. I would have this conversation because I have found that some people do not see that the two things - improved fitness and improved performance - are related. Astounding, but true.

    Good luck
    Mary King wasn't eliminated, she retired.


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  18. #18
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    I don't know how tall Becky is, but she does not appear to be particularly long in the leg, regardless of her weight. Having a lot of leg to wrap around a horse IMO makes it a whole lot easier to "stick".

    It does appear to be a real struggle for many people, and my private observation is that we are, among many other things, PROFOUNDLY STUPID as a society in general when it comes to food choices. I count myself to some degree--I have a weakness for lots of things that are not particularly healthy in the food department! But I *know* what's bad and what isn't. I can't help but wonder, being a closet grocery store stalker who looks at what people are putting in their cart and simultaneously assessing their, umm, BCS, where on earth people get the idea that food choices don't matter?!

    Rant over. Back to my non-lunch of saltine crackers.
    Click here before you buy.


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  19. #19
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    I am far from an elite rider. I'm probably built similarly to BH, and in my adult life have weighed along a range of 20 lbs more than now and 40 less. In my experience, even a small decrease in my weight improves my stability and sense of security in the saddle to a clearly perceptible extent.
    I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
    I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09



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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by deltawave View Post
    I don't know how tall Becky is, but she does not appear to be particularly long in the leg, regardless of her weight. Having a lot of leg to wrap around a horse IMO makes it a whole lot easier to "stick".

    It does appear to be a real struggle for many people, and my private observation is that we are, among many other things, PROFOUNDLY STUPID as a society in general when it comes to food choices. I count myself to some degree--I have a weakness for lots of things that are not particularly healthy in the food department! But I *know* what's bad and what isn't. I can't help but wonder, being a closet grocery store stalker who looks at what people are putting in their cart and simultaneously assessing their, umm, BCS, where on earth people get the idea that food choices don't matter?!

    Rant over. Back to my non-lunch of saltine crackers.
    My late sister always battled with her weight. She ate enough to be overweight, but not as large as she was the majority of her life. She did research hypothyroidism and presented her multiple symptoms to her DR's. All said her numbers were on the low side of normal range and poo-poo'd her symptoms. My DR put me on meds because a) my symptoms and b) my numbers, like my sister, are on the low side of normal. My numbers are now normal.

    Don't know BH, but have to wonder how someone who is active as she is constantly battling her weight. She may be or may not be another person dealing with a thyroid issue.

    i do often wonder if my sister would still be alive if one of the DR's had looked at her as a human, not as a fat woman.
    "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
    Courtesy my cousin Tim


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