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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec. 13, 2013
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    5

    Default Question about upper body position and balance in two point

    I got back into riding several months ago after a long time away. I've been riding about four times/week and have made a lot of progress getting back into shape, getting my shoulders back where they're supposed to be, etc.

    However, I don't feel like I'm progressing much with getting my two-point position to look like what my instructor wants to see. (She has a strong equitation focus. I'm not particularly interested in competing in equitation, but I do want to have decent riding position.) She wants me to straighten up more--my upper body angle is apparently too far in front of the vertical. However, when I try to comply, my overally balance shifts too far back and I can't hold the position.

    I feel like I have a good base of support, with weight in heels, correct stirrup length, and leg under me. (Instructor hasn't had to ask me to correct my leg position in quite awhile.) When I angle my upper body forward a bit more in two point, I feel very balanced and secure, and don't need to use the horse's neck for support in the canter.

    I've been trying hard to get my back where my instructor says it's supposed to be. I wind up putting a lot of arch in my back to get the angle more vertical, at least at shoulder level--my hip angle probably even closes a bit more through these contortions. I feel tense through my whole body trying to accomplish this and not fall back on my seat, and it's exhausting.

    Could this have something to do with my own body type--that maybe I just need a bit more forward angle to balance? I'm 5'6", with proportionately longer legs, a very short waist, and top heavy in bust, shoulders and upper arms.

    I'd love to get thoughts or pointers from others who might have had a similar issue, or taught those who have. Does this sound like something I can fix, or is it possible that what's right for my body type just different from the textbook ideal?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2003
    Location
    Norcross GA
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    1,980

    Default

    Sounds to me like you are closing your hip angle too much?

    If you've got a solid base, but still feel off balance, my guess is that you need to strengthen your core - the muscles that keep you upright. They probably aren't strong enough to hold you midway. Just standing on your own two feet, slight bend in your knees (so they aren't locked), put your body where -you- feel most comfortable bent forward. Now try where your instructor wants it. Harder, right? And you're standing - so you know it's not a problem with your base!

    Living with a personal trainer, we like to explore exercises to help strengthen me in my riding. He gives me ones to try, and I tell them how I feel they relate. One I have found for "breakover" and jumping position that I love is called a Good Morning. I found a decent youtube video of it here: http://youtu.be/t2pGlRwZnk0

    Also helpful: Back extensions http://youtu.be/ph3pddpKzzw
    TIMBERRIDGE SPORTHORSES:
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec. 20, 2011
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    1,192

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tonya_K View Post
    I've been trying hard to get my back where my instructor says it's supposed to be. I wind up putting a lot of arch in my back to get the angle more vertical, at least at shoulder level--my hip angle probably even closes a bit more through these contortions. I feel tense through my whole body trying to accomplish this and not fall back on my seat, and it's exhausting.
    Instead of arching your back to get yourself more upright, think of tucking your tailbone under. Your spine shouldn't arch inwards or outwards but remain neutral.

    Posture diagram.

    If I understand you correctly, you're trying to get your shoulders back/chest upright by putting yourself in a contortion like B (lordosis). You're using the small of your back to "sit up".

    If instead you think of yourself more along the lines of C (flat back) where your tailbone is curled under yourself, you'll find "upright" coming from your hips.

    The results are going to be the same (ie, more upright and open). But you won't get that horrible pain between your hips and shoulder blades nor be quite so stiff.

    The above worked for me. I had a tendency to lose balance when I tried to sit up by using my lower back -- I think it's cause it created such stiffness that it cascaded down into my legs so I couldn't flow along.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan. 27, 2003
    Location
    CA
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    10,657

    Default

    Honestly, it could be our saddle and the alignment it puts your body in. If you are fighting for balance when you are in an upright two-point, it most likely means the stirrups bars are too far forward and you are leaning forward to get over them so the balance becomes natural. Can you try different saddles?
    Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
    Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"


    1 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec. 13, 2013
    Posts
    5

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    Thank you, TwoDreamRides. I don't have the best back, and I'm sure some exercises could help me overall. But I to think my problem is more than a strength issue--I feel off balance right from the start, not so much like I'm just tiring too soon.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec. 13, 2013
    Posts
    5

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    VaqueroToro, thank you. Right, I'm arching my back as a workaround, because when I try to get more upright with my back in a more neutral position, i want to fall backward. I can try for a more flat back and see what happens. I have some lower back issues and I think I'm a bit swayback, so that doesn't help. As you say, being off balance makes everything stiff--not good.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec. 13, 2013
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    5

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    RugBug, I was thinking that maybe I should try another saddle and see what happens. When I first started back riding, I was using a Prestige, which felt good to me, but my instructor said my leg was too far forward. I tried to get my leg back in that saddle, but it just wasn't happening. I switched to a CWD, and the instructor was happy with my leg position, so I stuck with it. But I will say the stirrup bar placement in the CWD took some getting used to, which is something I'd never experienced before, so maybe it's not quite right for me. Plus it has a high pommel, which can cause, um, discomfort. I guess I could pull the Prestige back out now that I'm in a bit better shape and see what happens. At least I won't have to hurt my back carrying it around--the CWD is so heavy!



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul. 2, 2003
    Location
    Woodland, Ca
    Posts
    6,178

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    Either your lower leg is too far forward or your saddle is not balanced correctly, most likely high in front.

    However, since you say you have a weak back, try pilates. It will make a huge difference in a fairly short time.


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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul. 31, 2006
    Location
    Indiana
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    1,258

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    For me, I tend to fall back when I am using the back of my thigh and calf to balance. I found this habit came about when I was trying to find the happy medium between perching and driving. The more upright body position and deeper seat my trainer wanted me in was correct, but I picked up bad habits because I was trying to compensate for muscles areas I was weak (my thigh, calf, and lower abdomen).

    You likely have a well positioned leg but may be engaging the wrong muscles to maintain that position. Instead, think about contracting the inside of your thigh, your knee maintaining contact on the saddle, and the inside calf muscles. As you bring your upper body back you should stay strong in your abdomen, lengthen your thigh, and balance on the inner part of your leg. Pushing your hips forward slightly will also help.

    Good luck! Glad you started riding again
    There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the
    inside of a man.

    -Sir Winston Churchill



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun. 13, 2001
    Location
    usa
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    6,097

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    Your lower leg is too far forward. Try this (standing still). Put the lower leg far forward and try to get up, you cannot. Now put it too far back, it is really easy. Now gradually do it with the leathers hanging vertically (they should always be so). You should not be pinching to do 2point, feet should be fairly parallel.
    I.D.E.A. yoda



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec. 13, 2013
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    5

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    Quote Originally Posted by ideayoda View Post
    Your lower leg is too far forward. Try this (standing still). Put the lower leg far forward and try to get up, you cannot. Now put it too far back, it is really easy. Now gradually do it with the leathers hanging vertically (they should always be so). You should not be pinching to do 2point, feet should be fairly parallel.
    Thank you, I'll give this a try. I guess if I make sure the leathers are vertical and I'm still tending to fall backward, then I probably have a saddle or stirrup bar issue?



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun. 23, 2011
    Location
    hunterdon, nj
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    871

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    A huge thing that helped me with this was two posting or changing your diagonals up. Up two, sit two. Up two, sit two. You will get thrown all over the place unless you are correct.


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  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec. 27, 2001
    Location
    Washington, DC
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    6,433

    Default

    Without seeing you it's impossible to say, but certainly the wrong saddle could make this very hard to fix. I would try several different makes if I were you -- if the one puts you leg in the wrong place and the other puts your body in the wrong place, there are lots more out there with different balance points!

    All the other points about core strength and relative position of all the pieces are helpful too.

    Wanted to share something I heard in a clinic recently -- another student had a pronounced arch in her lower back, which the (European) instructor said he sees all the time in US riders and thinks is a real position flaw. He had her soften her ankle a little and stop "jamming" her heels down -- this enabled her to keep her back flatter and maintain two point in a softer and more neutral way. I was really surprised at the connection but it did work. This is not to say you shouldn't be deep in your heel, but there is a difference between a strong leg that flows down into a flexed ankle and one that is pushed down and stiff. Something to play with.
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