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Sitting heavy as a light rider

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  • Sitting heavy as a light rider

    I only weigh about 95 pounds on a heavy day, recently going down from 105 in a few months time from some medical issues. I'm a new-to-dressage rider and my biggest current problem is sitting deep and heavy into the saddle. Not only do I weight very little, but I'm also trying to figure out my new balance with the loss of weight.

    I have a very lovely coach who is working me through the problem, but thought I'd see if anyone had any other advice or exercises for lighter riders. It doesn't take much for my horse to pull me forward. I'm trying to arrange a few lunge lessons soon, which will hopefully help.

  • #2
    Think of "leading" or "initiating" each stride from the front line of your body at the base of your belly.

    (As opposed to scooping or pushing from behind.)
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    • #3
      Are you under the impression that sitting deep is sitting heavy ? I don 't think that is the case. Sitting deep is more a case of posture and balance; ie. anchoring your centre of balance directly over that of your horse. When sitting deep you can either go with the motion or against it, depending on what you are trying to achieve.
      (your centre of balance is below your belly button, and your horse's is just behind his withers) You can find some interesting articles on The Seat here; http://www.gfdressage.com/
      ... _. ._ .._. .._

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      • #4
        This is an interesting topic as I rode in a clinic and was told I "sit too lightly" when posting the trot. I am very average in height and weigh 125 lbs. I ride at 3rd/4th and have attended clinics by trainers who ride and teach FEI and Olympic level clients, and have never been told this before. I was told that I needed to sit heavy to push the horse's back down in the sit phase to make the horse to push me back up...don't even think about lifting myself up.

        Clinician said I had a pretty, but not effective seat. Another brief explanation was that I should stretch tall from the chest up, but slump/sit heavily from the mid-ribs down. I have a sensitive horse who can get a little quick if tense, but not terribly so as some hotbloods can be. I have tried to work on this a bit with my upper level trainer, but even she isn't sure what the clinician meant and she watched my session!

        Is this what you meant, OP? Does this sound like a familiar directive to anyone?

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Sorry, I should be more clear with what I am asking.

          Clearly as a lighter rider, I will struggle more with trying to sit down in the saddle with a "heavy" seat that keeps my butt anchored in and is not easily swayed by my horse who tries to pull me out of the saddle. Currently my horse can easily pull on the reins, I come forward, lose my seat and then am suddenly not a very effective rider!

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          • #6
            That is about a lot more than an ineffective seat. It also has to do with your horse not pushing from behind, or being "through" and balanced.
            ... _. ._ .._. .._

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            • #7
              @lusoluv: You were probably rising to quick and probably tightening your butt in the process. By doing so, you quicken your horse's strides from behind and didn't let him the chance to really push as you were already ahead in the motion and thus making him rush.
              And the tightening of your butt and belly in that phase can evidently cause tension in your horse's back. Especially with an already forward and easily tense horse.

              It is like jumping ahead. So yes, I've heard that comment and was told to : Take a deep breath and take my time to sit and wait and let the horse rise you. And rise lower.
              The sitting phase is the most important because this is where cues can be given.

              As for OP, you need more strenght in your core and upper body than becoming heavy. You need to also teach your horse to balance himself in front of your leg and not by leaning on your rein. Self carriage!
              Since you were sick, I suggest you take your time to get back to your usual strenght and try not to worry so much about not being as efficient as you are use to. Walk shoulder-in, haunches-in, leg yield and half pass will be your best bet to get back in shape, be coordinate and balanced, and put your horse's butt at work!!! (those exercices on the long sides, diagonals and on circles!)
              Hope you'll feel better soon!
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              • #8
                I am tall/thin, and really struggled for years to be effective and strong. Then I discovered my core muscles, and now I don't need to be strong to be effective as I am able to be balanced and in control of my upper body.

                Having control of my core made me more aware of my seat and my horse's back, which makes me better able to anticipate and get my leg on before being pulled forward.

                I wish someone had shown me this when I was a kid.
                Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by CHT View Post
                  I am tall/thin, and really struggled for years to be effective and strong. Then I discovered my core muscles, and now I don't need to be strong to be effective as I am able to be balanced and in control of my upper body.

                  Having control of my core made me more aware of my seat and my horse's back, which makes me better able to anticipate and get my leg on before being pulled forward.

                  I wish someone had shown me this when I was a kid.
                  Yep. Core strength is different from weight/muscling a horse around. EVERY rider can easily be pulled forward by a horse who wants to turn into a freight train if not using their seat/core correctly. I tend to only be able to describe it in person by showing muscle groups/demonstrating position, but part of using the core is described by Mary Wanless (this is thirdhand, so if I misstate, someone please correct me) as pretend you're sucking on a lozenge. Like you have it at the roof of your mouth, held there by your tongue, and suck. Feel the muscles which engage? That's the start of the feeling you need in using your core correctly. It's more than that, and it's using lower abdominal muscles than that, but it's a starting point.
                  Originally posted by Silverbridge
                  If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.

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                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Thanks for explaining that Alibi. I'm at least few months away from having my full strength back, which is making riding difficult, but not impossible. My coach understands my current limitations, but we're also trying to work through some issues with my mare that needs me to sit up and be a more effective rider. When I'm not, I become a passenger and she decides to take charge, which usually means bucking. She's not at all a nasty girl, I love my mare, but she's a mare that thrives with strict rules and guidelines. If you give her an inch, she'll take a mile.

                    I'll have to remind myself to not be too hard on myself until I'm actually able to work to a degree that will let me develop my core muscles. Easier said than done! Its frustrating to know what you'd like to do, but to have a medical issue hold you back.

                    We're working on a lot of leg yielding right now since its been very good for me as a rider (and of course for my mare as well!).

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by netg View Post
                      Yep. Core strength is different from weight/muscling a horse around. EVERY rider can easily be pulled forward by a horse who wants to turn into a freight train if not using their seat/core correctly. I tend to only be able to describe it in person by showing muscle groups/demonstrating position, but part of using the core is described by Mary Wanless (this is thirdhand, so if I misstate, someone please correct me) as pretend you're sucking on a lozenge. Like you have it at the roof of your mouth, held there by your tongue, and suck. Feel the muscles which engage? That's the start of the feeling you need in using your core correctly. It's more than that, and it's using lower abdominal muscles than that, but it's a starting point.
                      Is this in "Ride with your mind clinic"? I actually just picked up this book and have started reading this, so its nice to know she touches on the subject!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        If you were sitting back more instead of tipping forward, your horse would pull you deeper into the saddle when she got strong. You don't need to get stronger to practice sitting on your back pockets.
                        2012 goal: learn to ride like a Barn Rat

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                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Clever Pony View Post
                          Is this in "Ride with your mind clinic"? I actually just picked up this book and have started reading this, so its nice to know she touches on the subject!
                          I don't know - but I'm sure it's a topic she covers. I have about 50 books on my list to buy, and it's on that list... She actually covered it in clinics I read reviews on.

                          I've been physically capable of using my core correctly for a month now (due to back issues I mention elsewhere) so I'm looking for every visualization I can find on how to learn to do so after a long time of not understanding why I couldn't "get it" because I didn't realize it was a physical issue.
                          Originally posted by Silverbridge
                          If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.

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                          • #14
                            Posted by Lusoluv:

                            I was told that I needed to sit heavy to push the horse's back down in the sit phase to make the horse to push me back up...don't even think about lifting myself up.
                            The above ^ description is probably the worst suggestion I have ever heard on how the rider should use their seat while riding.

                            The rider should learn to "brace the back"/stiffen their back in order to stop the upward swing.motion of the horse's back if they want to do that, but no rider should be taught to sit heavy so the horse will push against such heavyness to lift the rider up.

                            Absolutely no way a rider is going to develop properly with that type of misinformation.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Clever Pony View Post
                              Sorry, I should be more clear with what I am asking.

                              Clearly as a lighter rider, I will struggle more with trying to sit down in the saddle with a "heavy" seat that keeps my butt anchored in
                              no, you shouldn't
                              and is not easily swayed by my horse who tries to pull me out of the saddle.
                              This has to do with you finding the correct balance point for your pelvis, and keeping your shoulders back and down. There's a video on my site called "the importance of shoulders" that explains the physics behind this. They need to meet you at your core (think where your uterus is) than at the back of your shoulders

                              Currently my horse can easily pull on the reins, I come forward, lose my seat and then am suddenly not a very effective rider!
                              then you have most likely a shoulder problem, not a weight problem.

                              my instructor is 5'4" and maybe 95 pounds, very fine boned petite lady, and I've seen big ol 17h horses *try* to root with her, and they get nowhere... it's like they meet an immovable wall. correct position is what makes a rider strong, not weight.
                              www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                              chaque pas est fait ensemble

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Thanks OP for letting me chime in on your thread, and thanks Alibi and BaroquePony for your responses.

                                Alibi: your explanation is much clearer of what the clinician probably meant, but his German command of the English language probably limited his ability to convey the idea better.

                                Baroque Pony: I think the explanation of pushing the back down turned me off from clinician as it sounded like a crude method of influencing my horse and frankly getting a little quick at first, but being able to settle my horse in a few minutes seemed preferable to being heavy and pushing down his back!

                                OP: if your horse can root the reins out of your hands and you feel it's shoulder/arm strength you are lacking, you probably just have your elbows slightly in front of your body. This is just enough to tell your horse you aren't seated well on your sit bones and he can take advantage - whether you are 95lbs or 195lbs. the result would be the same. If you let your upper arms hang vertically out of your shoulder sockets and your elbows are right at your hip points with a 90 degree bend in your elbow, any tugging by your horse will pull you into the saddle & sit bones vs. forward. You don't have to be strong to hold your reins and position correctly, but you do have to be very "body aware".

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