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Bareback? No stirrups? What's best for position improvement?

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  • Bareback? No stirrups? What's best for position improvement?

    Just this week, I've started riding my 5 year old bareback in all three gaits. He's really great about it, and I've always felt it improves my position. He's also excellent about being ridden without stirrups. My question is this: since I now can ride both bareback and without stirrups, what might help me with my position most? What exercises might I try? My position problems are these at the moment:

    1. I sit too much on the back of my thighs and sometimes sit on my pockets too much.
    2. I don't grip when I ride, and I have good balance--I can sit the trot very well. But I have a "long" leg and one that tends to creep up--I tend to weight my right stirrup more.
    3. I'm short armed with a long necked horse. To get him soft, I need to bend my elbows, but I sometimes don't.
    4. I also, in general, can be too "static" as a rider--I'm very still, too still, according to most observers.

    I'd plan on warming my horse up w/ stirrups or on the lunge before I work on my position, just fyi. Just curious about what has helped people.
    2007 Welsh Cob C X TB GG Eragon
    Our training journal.
    1989-2008 French TB Shamus Fancy
    I owned him for fifteen years, but he was his own horse.

  • #2
    Well.... written language is really a very flawed tool for this sort of thing. You would really need video. If you don't want to 'put it all out there,' then maybe just PM a video link to a few people you like/trust/value their opinion.

    Position corrections are about both 1) how the body is used and 2) how the brain uses it. Riders have to develop their neurology over time (develop "feel") in order to be able to make meaningful changes. If you cannot perceive the change, cannot feel the 'wrong,' the 'right', and the difference between the two, then the change is not worth much as a long term tool.

    As a RWYM aficionado, so I would start by looking at the mechanics of your rising trot.

    Does the front of your body lengthen, shorten, or stay the same when you rise? Can you control the rise? Can you get to the top of the rise and pause there? When you come down to the saddle, how do you land in it? Is your weight mostly transferred to your seat bones? Or do you keep more of your weight in your thighs? Does the weight in your stirrups stay consistent as you rise, or does it increase at some point?
    "Friend" me !

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    • #3
      I think the best exercise you can do to improve how your leg falls is to work on rising trot without stirrups while vaulting. This will make you hold on with your knees, find your position faster while not holding with the reins.

      As for the elbows, my trainer once passed a broomstick in front of my elbows and behind my back. It hurts as hell, but I can promise you after a couple of rides like this (and actually riding the exercises with the broomstick) you'll learn to keep the elbows where they should be!

      Finally, as for you being too static, that usually is because you are to tight on horseback. As soon as you find your balance you'll relax and you'll be more of an effective rider.
      www.facebook.com/lusitanos4sale

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      • #4
        FWIW if you have a tendency to "sit on your pockets" I don't think you should ride bareback as that tends to put you in a chair seat. Riding bareback is good to get you to feel the motion of the horse but it's not going to do much for your position. Sitting on a balance ball with your feet off the ground will teach you more about pelvic alignment
        I wasn't always a Smurf
        Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
        "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
        The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Thanks for the responses. Carol, yeah, I do think BB can make someone sit on their butt more, but it's been helpful as far as dropping my leg and sitting evenly so I don't slide off.

          Isabeau, I have vids off the training journal in my sig (the link is on the right). I guess I'll put it out there for those that care to look.
          2007 Welsh Cob C X TB GG Eragon
          Our training journal.
          1989-2008 French TB Shamus Fancy
          I owned him for fifteen years, but he was his own horse.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by SCMSL View Post
            I think the best exercise you can do to improve how your leg falls is to work on rising trot without stirrups while vaulting. This will make you hold on with your knees, find your position faster while not holding with the reins.

            As for the elbows, my trainer once passed a broomstick in front of my elbows and behind my back. It hurts as hell, but I can promise you after a couple of rides like this (and actually riding the exercises with the broomstick) you'll learn to keep the elbows where they should be!

            Finally, as for you being too static, that usually is because you are to tight on horseback. As soon as you find your balance you'll relax and you'll be more of an effective rider.
            Not sure clinching with your knee is correct and elbows should be able to move. If the elbows remain behind the back which a broomstick would place them, then the rider should be shortening their reins to bring the hands out in front and the elbows to their side. And since the body needs to stay tall in the saddle the elbows need to move with the horse so your seat can stay in the saddle and the body doesn't pump with the horse. If the rider sits tall, holds the chin in (not tucked), looks ahead and thinks about pressing the shoulder blades closer together, that usually gets the rider off the pockets. But at the same time, the rider needs to keep their shoulders back so as not to lose the proper alignment.

            The biggest thing the OP might want to look at is the saddle. Is the saddle correct for the rider and the horse combo.

            The other thing, is TIME. It takes lots and lots of time to develop soft/following/giving hands, a proper alignment and an effective seat.

            Comment


            • #7
              Actually, bareback at the trot and canter makes it pretty hard to have horrible position. The only thing I would be careful of is making sure you don't give your horse a sore back, which is easy at the bouncy trot and awkward transitions canter/trot.

              Posting without stirrups would also help you stay more forward..although it's hard to assign things to work on without "seeing" you.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Thanks, Arab-Mare. I was curious about how often/when people rode bareback or stirrup-less and how it helped them. Anyone care to share? I'm fine with people commenting on me, but I'd be just as happy to hear about others who have used these tools in refining/improving their position.
                2007 Welsh Cob C X TB GG Eragon
                Our training journal.
                1989-2008 French TB Shamus Fancy
                I owned him for fifteen years, but he was his own horse.

                Comment


                • #9
                  FWIW, recent article - I think in Equus - said riding bareback (a lot, not just occasionally) is bad for the horse's back....So depending on how much bareback you're intending to do, you might want to reconsider (weight concentrated in smaller area compared to saddle). Perhaps riding w/o stirrups might be better? Lunge lessons? (I wouldn't take lunge lessons on MY horse (I want to live!), but if someone had a nice reliable horse, I sure would love some lunge lessons in order to work my my position.)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I was very very crooked so while I was looking for a saddle I rode bareback. Boy howdy! The first time I sat on Fella bareback I felt like I was a couple inches to the right of his spine! Here's a picture of us the first time -notice the height difference in my shoulders and the difference in my legs. http://www.flickr.com/photos/5296733...in/photostream

                    The first corner we went around (left lead) I thought I was going to come right off..at a walk!

                    I was crooked and as stiff as a board. I'm still a bit crooked -going to work on that, but now I move with my horse, even in my saddle (treeless).

                    I was also able to separate my aids -my shoulders and arms were not nailed to my trunk, my hips moved, etc.

                    I noticed that Fella was much more free and forward bareback than all the saddles we tried.

                    Paula
                    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Sandy,
                      I haven't seen that article, but that seems to be counter to what I've experienced. Both my young horse and my old TB seemed to really like being ridden bareback--they moved out nicely and were very soft--like what Paula described with Fella. At any rate, I don't plan on doing much of it--10-20 mins a week.
                      2007 Welsh Cob C X TB GG Eragon
                      Our training journal.
                      1989-2008 French TB Shamus Fancy
                      I owned him for fifteen years, but he was his own horse.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by SisterToSoreFoot View Post
                        Sandy,
                        I haven't seen that article, but that seems to be counter to what I've experienced. Both my young horse and my old TB seemed to really like being ridden bareback--they moved out nicely and were very soft--like what Paula described with Fella. At any rate, I don't plan on doing much of it--10-20 mins a week.
                        Well, they weren't saying "never" ride bareback, just that extensive bareback, or particularly a heavy rider riding bareback, etc. could cause issues They had - what? ultrasound? (don't have the article in front of me), or whatever would show heat and pressure concentration, and it was much higher and focused on one area (rider's seat bones) in bareback than with a properly fitting saddle that spread the weight, and they said excessive bareback would tend to cause damage to the horse's back. Not a problem for me: I wouldn't DARE ride my present horse bareback unless it was an emergency situation and I had to flee from the murderous, invading hordes!

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Thanks for clarifying, Sandy. I think we'd both get fed up if we did too much anyway!
                          2007 Welsh Cob C X TB GG Eragon
                          Our training journal.
                          1989-2008 French TB Shamus Fancy
                          I owned him for fifteen years, but he was his own horse.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Grab mane, smile or laugh and just have fun..... In this process you will find your seat, hands and heart of riding

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Indeed. I hacked out on a bareback pad. It was funny how connection just sneaked up on us.

                              Paula
                              He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by SisterToSoreFoot View Post
                                Thanks, Arab-Mare. I was curious about how often/when people rode bareback or stirrup-less and how it helped them. Anyone care to share? I'm fine with people commenting on me, but I'd be just as happy to hear about others who have used these tools in refining/improving their position.
                                If you ride without stirrups you can't brace in your stirrups (duh!) so you learn to use the rest of your legs and core. The trick is then, when you pick up your stirrups, to NOT go back to bracing into those stirrups. You want to have the same contact between your feet and stirrups as you do with the reins and your hands
                                I wasn't always a Smurf
                                Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
                                "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                                The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  This young woman has a gazillion videos as she trains her horses in bareback dressage. She's in the Netherlands. I love to watch her progress.

                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_qTnQNMY-k

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I actually think bareback and no stirrups are both the enemy of someone trying to fix the specific problems you list.

                                    I loved an exercise I saw recently in a Pierre St Jacques clinic. He had someone changing diagonals by standing. Over and over. It's HARD, and if you are not properly lengthening your legs to the stirrups, if you're gripping, or if you're weighting your stirrups unevenly you WILL find out.
                                    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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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by SisterToSoreFoot View Post
                                      Sandy,
                                      I haven't seen that article, but that seems to be counter to what I've experienced. Both my young horse and my old TB seemed to really like being ridden bareback--they moved out nicely and were very soft--like what Paula described with Fella. At any rate, I don't plan on doing much of it--10-20 mins a week.
                                      A way around that might be a "treeless" saddle with the appropriate spine-relief pad under it--horses love these and they are comfortable as an easy chair; it's also pretty hard to have a poor position in one of these.

                                      The main question to ask yourself about your position now is, "Are you in your own way?" If your aids are effective, you are not impeding your horse's correct movement nor generating tension, who cares if you don't "look" like some supposed ideal? Horses/riders come in all shapes and sizes, and form and function are tied together. The "shape" needed to ride a 17.2 hh. WB effectively may not be the same as what you need for a round-bodied 15-hander! If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by fairtheewell View Post
                                        This young woman has a gazillion videos as she trains her horses in bareback dressage. She's in the Netherlands. I love to watch her progress.

                                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_qTnQNMY-k
                                        Yup, I love watching her. She's my "there" to my "here" in alot of ways -fitness (horse and rider), forwardness (horse), relaxation, etc.

                                        Paula
                                        He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

                                        Comment

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