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leaning in saddle

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  • leaning in saddle

    I need some advice on why I might be leaning in my saddle. It is actually when I trail ride for several hours that I do it, probably start it right away but it takes me awhile to notice it, but I thought dressage riders with such a great seat might be able to tell me why I am doing this. I end up leaning to the right, saddle slipping to the right a bit every few minutes. I straighten it but eventually it goes back to the right and I am uncompfortable (back starts aching). One would think that it is the saddle, or I did, but I am on my second saddle and have ridden on several different horses, and it always happens. So I am pretty sure it is me! Am I possibly putting too much weight in the left stirrup forcing my body to the right, or am I putting too much weight on my right stirrup making my saddle slide to the right? Anyone have any advice on this? I have thought perhaps I should move one stirrup notch up, but which one? Of course mentally I am trying to ride straight but need help on how to keep myself that way. Thoughts and suggestions would be great! I have a friend who says she does the same thing, so I must not be the only one
    To ride a horse is to borrow freedom.

  • #2
    Actually, it may not be "you" as much as you would think.

    In dressage, we recognize that a horse has a convex side and a concave side. (sometimes called stiff side and hollow side.) On the horse's stiff side, the horse's barrel rotates out against the rider's leg, even when you are going straight because his body naturally curves on the left (like a banana on its side.) All horses have this to a degree, although it is improved with the gymnastic exercises that we do in dressage.

    If the horse's barrel is bulging out against your right leg, it will tip you toward the left. (Most horses are hollow to the left.) In order to counteract that, you may start leaning to the right to attempt to compensate.

    The correction is to straighten the horse and not use your body to compensate. You need to keep the horse's head in a straight line between his shoulders, keep his shoulders straight, his backbone always parallel to the ground (not tipped to one side or the other) and equal pressure of his barrel between your legs. Easier said than done!
    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller


    • Original Poster

      oh achy back

      Thank you for the email, I do remember learning about convex and concave sides on horses. And now that you mention it, my one gelding always tries to carry his head to one side and I am working on straightening it. However this seems to happen on every horse I ride, thus why I was thinking it was me. But if more horses tend to bend that way then maybe that is the cause? I am doing a big ride this weekend, I will pay more attention to the way my horse is bending! Of course I was hoping for a quick cure light moving stirrups I did notice on the saddle I finally gave up I had the right stirrup stretched out more then the left. And of course I normally mount from the left side so find it wierd I stretched the opposite!
      To ride a horse is to borrow freedom.


      • #4
        check your stirrup lenght so you not odd and you wont lean having the correct lenght ghelps with your position

        stand to the left of the horse place your left arm outstretched with 2nd finger tip on the stirrup bar ie the bit where the stirrup leather buckle goes
        then with right hand hold the stirrup tread- and pull down the length of your left arm
        if the stirrup tred doent reach your arm pit and is half way up your arm its to short
        if the leather reaches your armpit with the stirrup dangling its to long
        the stirrup trad must reach your arm pitt-- repeat for right side

        oik up a one or two holes for jumping
        change over your stirrup leahters each side when cleaning so they get the same amount of wear and dont become strectch on one side as over use of dismountig nad mounting from the one side of the horse

        sit up straight chin up and look between your horses ears
        frust the bust and distrbute you weight evenly down through your back aand down your elgs into your feet-- heals down and and toes forwards- if you cant turn them in sligtly forwards is fine

        hands to be held evenly at pommel position -- pratice holding a whip across your hands and on your thumbs and dont drop it in walk or trot

        a horse will lean to one side if you odd and will lean, if you are stronger on one side
        mostly people are right handed so they tend to ride as they write
        so give as in you give in the side you strongest on then the horse wont advade you by being stiff on one side ,or lean on one side

        glad you have notice its yourself so full marks as most people normally dont and then get defensive when you say rider error which most of the time it is

        so bravo
        Last edited by goeslikestink; Oct. 28, 2008, 05:06 PM.


        • Original Poster


          Thank you for the advice! And what a terrific thing to do about swapping the stirrup leathers so they stretch evenly. I can't believe I haven't thought of that before! To bad I can't do it on my endurace saddle! Well I don't think I can but will look now!
          To ride a horse is to borrow freedom.


          • #6
            Make sure you're not collapsing your left side in an attempt to keep your left leg long, but the left stirrup ends up not being weighted, rather the right stirrup is weighted.
            Last edited by Valentina_32926; Sep. 26, 2008, 09:57 AM. Reason: typo
            Now in Kentucky


            • Original Poster


              I did notice that my right leg tends to be further forward then my left. Boy I am really messed up
              To ride a horse is to borrow freedom.


              • #8
                Try a chiropractor or acupuncture.

                In my case, I have a severely contracted muscle in my back that brings my left hip up. I overcompensate and lean right- but my right leg always hangs "longer" than my left and my left foot is further back unless I'm consciously working on it.

                According to the chiro my nerves are now "trained" this way and when I'm straight I feel like I'm leaning left, so I have to retrain my nerves to feel "correct" when I am straight.

                The acupuncture is supposed to release the muscle- haven't been brave enough to try it yet, but the chiro says it's going to be really helpful when I do!


                • #9
                  As above. I went to a massage therapist last week and he weighed me on two sets of scales, one foot on each. I am 4kg heavier on one side. So we are working on that and I have exercises to do to try to rebalance myself. I had a horse accident some years ago and put my pelvis out. So it is happening because my body is still trying to correct itself. Now that I am aware of it, I realise that I am doing lots of things because of this...like always sitting on my left foot, so am not allowed to do this anymore. Was talking to someone yesterday who had just come from another treatment from this person and he is now back to being even but he had been 10kg heavier on one side. Very interesting. I always wondered why I couldn't seem to weight my left leg or feel my seat bone as much as my right side. Might be worth a try


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Kit View Post
                    As above. I went to a massage therapist last week and he weighed me on two sets of scales, one foot on each. I am 4kg heavier on one side.
                    Get a Wii Fit! It does the same measurement and gives you balancing games!


                    • #11
                      I tend to lean,too....and this only happened after an ankle injury years ago....so, I am sure it was the weakness on that leg as a result. I noticed right away as one thigh always got a better workout than the other, and also the stirrup leathers were uneven after a while (I also now switch them periodically).

                      For me, when I work on the flat, I really try to work without stirrups and pay close attention to centering myself so that I know what it is supposed to feel like when I do pick up my stirrups again.

                      I can also suggest Pilates which helps strengthen the core a work on balance.
                      Founder & Donor/Account Advisor
                      Brennan Equine Welfare Fund


                      • Original Poster

                        helped with leaning

                        I had a 3 day ride this weekend so it gave me plenty of time to think/work on this. Friday I was leaning, Saturday it occured to me to check my saddle bags for even weight in them, well it turns out one was weighted more heavily than the other! I redistributed the weight between the sides and it has helpled incredibly! The weight of the ride side was pulling my saddle to the right! Boy did I feel stupid, but really happy that adjusting it has helped me so much! No sore back this weekend!! I am sure my horse is thankful also!
                        To ride a horse is to borrow freedom.


                        • #13
                          If all the horses you get on lean the same way, turn their head the same way, it might be due to something you do, but it also might not be. Quite a few people inadvertently always have their horse's head turned in one direction, so it just may be what the horse is used to.

                          Actually, leaning can be due to a lot of different things.

                          It could be due to gear in your saddle bags, but if it's a small amount of gear, I'd be hesitant to think you just solved the problem. There are many possibilities:

                          1. Due to a back injury, the rider 'sits long' on the injured side, putting more weight in the injured side's stirrup, collapsing the right side and drawing his uninjured-side hip up. He will have less bend in the knee of the injured side, and more bend in the knee on the collapsed side. It is entirely possible that the best solution for this sort of thing is to actually make the stirrup leathers uneven, and shorten the side the rider sits long on, so he gets a bend in his knee - in other cases the best thing to do is to get the rider to use both legs evenly. Back injuries may cause habitual repositioning of the rider or even a low level of pain and the rider may not even be aware of the pain or how he adjusts his position.

                          1a. Depending on the injury and amount of pain, the collapsed side of the rider could also be the injured side.

                          Due to the number of riders with back injuries, it's important to be sure any unevenness in sitting actually is due to the injury. Quite a few people with back injuries still sit quite evenly, so the problem can be due to something else.

                          2. Due to natural unevenness, and an inability to push equally from both hind legs that either hasn't been fixed by training or even has been made worse by training, the horse puts the rider over to one side. IF the rider tries to sit straight, the horse will push him back over. The horse puts the rider where he can most easily carry him, and 'easiest' may be away from the less able hind leg.

                          3. Due to an actual injury or gradually developing arthritis, the horse is uneven and trying to carry the rider where he most easily can do so. The rider keeps trying to scootch over to the middle of the saddle, and keeps sliding away.

                          4. Alot of riders tend to sit very, very much on the outside of the horse, especially when circling. The inside hip collapses, the inside knee and leg are drawn up, and the rider 'collapses to the outside', with more weight on the outside side of the saddle, and the saddle slips over to the outside. This happens especially at the canter. The rider may feel especially insecure at the canter if his horse goes very quickly, and is off balance with too much weight on his shoulders, leaning inward as he circles.


                          • #14
                            You are leaning because you are unbalanced in the seat. I did it too. The cure for me was riding without stirrups a lot. A few weeks without stirrups brought out better balance and a freedom in my seat I didn't know I lacked!


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by slc2
                              4. Alot of riders tend to sit very, very much on the outside of the horse, especially when circling. The inside hip collapses, the inside knee and leg are drawn up, and the rider 'collapses to the outside', with more weight on the outside side of the saddle, and the saddle slips over to the outside. This happens especially at the canter. The rider may feel especially insecure at the canter if his horse goes very quickly, and is off balance with too much weight on his shoulders, leaning inward as he circles.
                              I struggle with this with my one horse big time, ALL saddles on him will slip to the left after a right canter. I keep thinking it must be 'me', leaning to the left, but then again he's crooked himself too with uneven shoulders and stiff to the left. However when riding my other horse (who's stiff the right -opposite side as this guy-) I have the exact opposite happening, after a left canter with this guy the saddle will slip to the right.
                              When cantering both horses on their stiff rein virtually no saddle slip issues. (shouldn't it be the other way around?)

                              Is this 'me' or the fact that the horses are very stiff on one sides, that causes the saddle slip?

                              Also I get confused really. When cantering and keeping weight on inside seatbone, I tend to find that the horse's stride or inside leg is shortened because of my inside weight distribution, but when I weigh the outside of the saddle a little more, then I have a much more expressive strided canter.

                              Then again I have less slipping issues when I have the horse a little bit higher up in the reins and in a slower canter, which again would be less expressive and feels like I'm riding with the handbrake on.

                              I get so frustrated by this (especially as I'm saddle shopping at present). Do all of your saddles stay 100% in place after a canter without any slipping at the cantle.
                              I fix the canter slippage by doing a few strides of counter canter after each canter and that usually puts the saddle straight again, without me having to weigh one stirrup or without having to push the saddle back in place. (but I can't do this in a test really).
                              Is it possible for the assymetrical horse to canter without any slippage in the cantle region or am I looking for the impossible?
                              Last edited by Lieslot; Nov. 23, 2008, 06:53 PM.


                              • #16
                                Usually it just requires some riding lessons with a good dressage trainer.


                                • #17
                                  I am having that, but doesn't address the issue really .
                                  I'll have to get her to ride them again I guess.