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Position Help Dressage Gurus!!

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  • Smthn_Like_Olivia
    started a topic Position Help Dressage Gurus!!

    Position Help Dressage Gurus!!

    I'm an older rider, but passionate about learning dressage. I started late, and then rode in a bad saddle for a year that pitched me forward, in addition to sitting at a desk all day for work. I film a lot of rides to see what I am doing wrong, but for the life of me, I can't seem to keep my hips forward in the saddle, especially when posting. No matter what, I push my hips back, and bring my shoulders forward. I can fix it in the walk, it's not terrible in the canter, but when I post, it's like my body automatically assumes this terrible position. I take lessons and my trainer will constantly say, "Sit back!" but I can't actively correct it unless I'm thinking about it or someone says something.

    Was hoping some of you may have some tips or tricks to help me work through this as I've been struggling with it since I sold my old saddle late last year. It's gotten gradually better, but nothing I'm happy with when I go back and watch my videos. I need something else besides "Sit back" to help me correct this. For instance, I use to struggle with keeping my legs long and was constantly drawing them up in the saddle. Then a friend said, "Think of it as dropping all your weight down into your heels." And that did it. Within a couple weeks of using this reminder, I no longer have a problem with my lower leg. So I'm hoping that with all the knowledgeable folks here in this forum, I can get some tips to help me correct this problem with my hips and leaning over them.

  • outerbanks77
    replied
    Oh, how cool that you got a signed edition of Centered Riding! I would be tempted to get another copy for reading and keep that one well-preserved.

    Leave a comment:


  • alicen
    replied
    Try this in front of a full length mirror: standing sideways assume riding position. Post. At maximum rise extend the belly outward- get it out there, despite our cultural indoctrination to the contrary. Assuming legs are ok, practice on horse. Focus only on belly out as you rise. "Rise-out, rise-out, rise-out." Exaggerate at first, then refine.

    Leave a comment:


  • Smthn_Like_Olivia
    replied
    ^^Have ridden twice trying this. First time was definitely harder than it sounds, but last night was a little easier and definitely helped a lot! My seat was much more connected and not hovering. Problem I had though is it confused my horse! Lol. I guess he's gotten used to my hover seat. Only in the walk and canter does my seat feel really connected, so last night, when I found my stride with this, he got confused and kept thinking I was asking him to canter, because even though I was posting, my seat was still there. It was kind of neat. Lol.

    Also received my Sally Swift book yesterday! Have only had a chance to flip through, but saw some really great stuff and can't wait to start digging in! Best part is, I ordered the book off Amazon used for around $5 in excellent condition. When I opened the cover, it was SIGNED To Olivia - Sally Swift August 2nd 1994! My name is not really Olivia, but I thought that was pretty cool! Signed ALMOST to the day 25 years ago to someone named Olivia and ended up with me in mint condition. :-)

    Leave a comment:


  • mvp
    replied
    Originally posted by Spectrum View Post
    A lot of responses here are backwards. Tipping forward is 90% of the time due to gripping with your legs (usually your knees or lower legs) which pushes your seat out of the saddle and raises your center of gravity, and generally tips you forward. You can fight with your core, your elbows, your chin and your shoulders forever but you will never be able to sit back if you are gripping with your legs.

    Pushing your heels down (usually done the wrong way) generally makes people push their calf forward and sit in a chair seat.

    What you need to do is to take your heels *away* from your horse. When you are on the up part of your post, you need to relax your hips and flow your weight into your heel pointed away from your horse (which incidentally will also eventually put your heel in a relaxed down position if you can master it). Then on your down post you need to relax into this.

    Now.... Th first time you attempt this, I can 100% promise you will A) feel extremely destabilized and ready to fall off (because your leg has been holding you on your horse this entire time instead of your seat) and/or B) get the worst charlie horses in your hip flexors that you could have possible imagined, which will force you to stop your horse and completely push your butt out of your saddle until the charlie horse relaxes.

    BUT.... This means you are doing it right. I swear. You have a ton of muscle memory right now that is telling your hip flexors and your thighs to grip the heck out of your horse, and when you make a conscious effort to use opposing muscles to push your leg off your horse's side and out into the great beyond, your hip flexors are going to throw a tantrum. So you could also try this at the walk first and feel your seat sink back into your saddle before trying it at the trot. Or do it on a longe line with a friend who has a good sense of humor.

    It will take practice, but I promise if you can point your heel away from your horse, it will enlighten you to a whole new world with your seat, an independent leg, and your posture. Also, if you do this in a chair, you'll notice that if you are slouching when you do it, it pulls much harder on your hip flexor, so that can be your hint to help you sit up a bit as you stretch your leg down.

    Good luck!
    I can't quite picture what you mean. (But I'm game and I'll try anything!). You mean try to turn my whole leg out from my hip so that my toes are pointed toward one another through the horse and my heels stick out (ideally) 90 degree from the horse's side?

    Leave a comment:


  • Sunsets
    replied
    Replacing your desk chair with a fitness ball (or one of those fitness ball/chair hybrid things) really does help. if you are anything like me, you won’t be able to do more than an hour at a time until your core and back muscles get used to it.

    Yoga can also be super helpful for tight hips. Ask an instructor to show you good hip opening poses, and do them on a regular basis.

    Leave a comment:


  • Smthn_Like_Olivia
    replied
    Spectrum you are absolutely correct in your assessment. Part of the problem is that I am riding a young horse and I use not only my lower leg, but my thigh and hip to guide him. So in the process of posting and trying to bend or straighten him, I end up gripping with my thighs and almost hovering slightly over the saddle pitching me forward. This is only something I've recently discovered since starting this thread, reading through all the responses, and studying my riding videos.

    My last ride, I really focused on trying to sit deep, but it was a struggle. It's much easier at the walk and even the canter, but once I start posting, it's like everything goes out the window! These tips are very helpful and I will try it this evening when I ride! Thank you! The heels out tip is genious and can't wait to try it!

    Leave a comment:


  • Spectrum
    replied
    A lot of responses here are backwards. Tipping forward is 90% of the time due to gripping with your legs (usually your knees or lower legs) which pushes your seat out of the saddle and raises your center of gravity, and generally tips you forward. You can fight with your core, your elbows, your chin and your shoulders forever but you will never be able to sit back if you are gripping with your legs.

    Pushing your heels down (usually done the wrong way) generally makes people push their calf forward and sit in a chair seat.

    What you need to do is to take your heels *away* from your horse. When you are on the up part of your post, you need to relax your hips and flow your weight into your heel pointed away from your horse (which incidentally will also eventually put your heel in a relaxed down position if you can master it). Then on your down post you need to relax into this.

    Now.... Th first time you attempt this, I can 100% promise you will A) feel extremely destabilized and ready to fall off (because your leg has been holding you on your horse this entire time instead of your seat) and/or B) get the worst charlie horses in your hip flexors that you could have possible imagined, which will force you to stop your horse and completely push your butt out of your saddle until the charlie horse relaxes.

    BUT.... This means you are doing it right. I swear. You have a ton of muscle memory right now that is telling your hip flexors and your thighs to grip the heck out of your horse, and when you make a conscious effort to use opposing muscles to push your leg off your horse's side and out into the great beyond, your hip flexors are going to throw a tantrum. So you could also try this at the walk first and feel your seat sink back into your saddle before trying it at the trot. Or do it on a longe line with a friend who has a good sense of humor.

    It will take practice, but I promise if you can point your heel away from your horse, it will enlighten you to a whole new world with your seat, an independent leg, and your posture. Also, if you do this in a chair, you'll notice that if you are slouching when you do it, it pulls much harder on your hip flexor, so that can be your hint to help you sit up a bit as you stretch your leg down.

    Good luck!

    Leave a comment:


  • Smthn_Like_Olivia
    replied
    I have ordered the Sally Swift book as well! Hoping to get it this week! Also continuing work on strengthening my core as well as loosening my hips. I've found that I am very tight in my hips!

    Leave a comment:


  • minniethemare
    replied
    I've seen the Sally Swift book recommended countless times and have finally ordered one (had to buy textbooks anyways, what's one more book). Can't wait for it to get here and see what all the hype is about!

    Leave a comment:


  • Isabeau Z Solace
    replied
    Mary Wanless Ride With Your Mind system.

    Leave a comment:


  • Cat Tap
    replied
    Two people have beat me to it but Sally Swift's book was a great break through for my riding back in the day. It was also very helpful when I was teaching. I used to say instead of thinking up and down in the rising trot think of forward and back, push you hips towards your hands.

    Leave a comment:


  • tulachard
    replied
    Sorry if this is a duplication, but an exercise that really helped me to get everything aligned is the "up-up" post. Meaning, you hold the "up" portion of your post for two beats instead of just one. Then, you can post normally a few strides and then back to "up-up". Repeat as much as possible. You can't do this exercise if you aren't aligned properly - you'll either fall forward or backwards (ask me how I know ). It's a great test of your balance.

    Leave a comment:


  • islgrl
    replied
    You should read Sally Swift's book "Centered Riding" as another poster has mentioned. It is full of excellent visuals.

    Leave a comment:


  • foggythistle
    replied
    Something that helps me is to visualize coming down from your post close to the front/pommel of the saddle. You can't do this if your shoulders are in front of your hips.

    To do this your thighs/knees have to drop and your heels have to be more under your seat bones

    Leave a comment:


  • twinmommy
    replied
    Well it's difficult to give advice without pictures or video There could be so many things going on.

    I can speak to my experience. I used to just ride and did nothing else for fitness - because I would rather ride than do just about anything else and my free time is limited. I wasn't overweight and most people would have thought me pretty fit but I actually wasn't. My riding reached a plateau that I couldn't seem to get past. In August 2016 I decided to get stronger and fitter and found workouts specifically for dressage riders. I rode in a clinic in November and had many people commenting on how much my riding had improved. The difference was actually way more than I had expected. I feel like I found the holy grail of dressage that so many people never find.

    For me, specifically, I think it was core strength, especially my upper core (ribcage area, mid-back) that was the biggest difference. Also, weight training for my chest and upper back really helped with my posture. Also I spent about 15 minutes every day just stretching my hips.

    You don't say if you have a fitness regimen off the horse? It's a lot of work and hard to find time (I get up at 5:00AM and go to the gym 5x a week) but now that I'm at a point where I basically just maintaining, I really enjoy it. There is a reason why the most successful dressage riders also work out regularly. All the position advice in the world won't help if you physically cannot do it.

    Leave a comment:


  • Smthn_Like_Olivia
    replied
    Wow...this is a gold mine! Such great stuff here! Thank you all SO MUCH! I have currently been reading "Way to Perfect Horsemanship" by Udo Burger that was suggested on another thread, but will definitely look into those mentioned here as well!

    But these are the kinds of things I need to help me work through my shortcomings. Different ideas and perspectives to communicate the end goal are always beneficial and I appreciate the many contributions!

    Leave a comment:


  • atr
    replied
    Thinking of shoulder blades rolled back and down, combined with positve tension in the latisumus dorsi and around the rib cage is what has helped me gain control of my upper body. Then the lower parts just seem to hang off it in a more natural fashion.

    Leave a comment:


  • evilc123
    replied
    Lots of wonderful gems here, but I'll add my "envision" trick. Envision that your belt buckle is the forward most part of your body (aside from your hands). I like this one because it is extremely simple to envision and I always notice a difference in the horse when I apply it.

    (My own variation of this trick is to imagine that my belt buckle is the thing attached to horse's bit rather than the reins. This helps me ride more effectively from my seat on my hot horse who I tend to brace in my heels and hands on.)

    Leave a comment:


  • merrygoround
    replied
    When you are doing the rising trot, your shoulders should be back, and your chest raised. Then think of leading the rise with your hips first. Your thigh should be gently against the saddle-no gaps- from your knee to your 'jelly bun' soft gluteal muscles.

    It is great if you can open the muscle at the top of your leg so there is minimal angle but at this point in time it's probably among the impossibles. . Your lower leg drapes against the horses side unless you've got it in use for bending or turning. The knee stays relaxed as does the ankle so that the weight can drop down through your knees and through your ankles which must be able to give. This latter is of even more importance at the sitting trot.

    Leave a comment:

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