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Critique my video, please

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  • Critique my video, please

    If you have 10 minutes to watch, I'd appreciate feedback on this video of my mare and I, especially regarding how to make my seat and legs more stable.


  • #2
    Your perching forward a tad bit. Your bum needs to be more underneath you. Once your bum is more underneath you, you should feel it in your tummy muscles. Practice it at the walk to get the feeling of it. I would practice without stirrups becuase it is easier to sit correctly without them. However you will be using your muscles differently and it may feel a bit like torture and you will probably be sore the next day but it's worth it

    Patience and Consistency are Your Friends


    • #3
      I would say that saddle doesn't fit you well. It almost looks like you're perching on your toes a bit, almost like your leg isn't connected to your seat. I might venture to guess that the stirrup bars are a little too far forward for you so that your leg moves around a lot as you try to "catch up" with your balance.

      I'd be interested to see what happens when you shorten your stirrups a hole - but then I imagine your knee might come forward of the flap.
      "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


      • #4
        What I see is slightly different than the above poster, although I think her suggestion to work w/o stirrups is spot on. I'm seeing this: You seem to be collapsing through your middle which is curving your body into a "C" shape; this is bringing your hips too far under you, and simultaneously rolling your shoulders forward, and your elbows out, and your palms down. Similar things are happening in your legs; you appear to be slightly pinching your knee and thus shortening through your calf which is rolling your heel up. If you were my student, I'd have you work on the longe for a bit without reins or stirrups, and we'd focus on solidifying your core, and "opening" your chest and hip.

        To begin: imagine feeling as if a bungee is attached to the top of your helmet, pulling up through your tailbone, spine, and neck -- you want to feel your spine be straight, but not stiff. At the same time it can help to envision a similar bungee pulling forward from your navel: when you rise to the trot, lead with your belly-button. Don't stick your haunches out behind you and arch your back though; that'll cause your horse to do the same

        I'd also have you do some warm-ups in which -- at the walk -- you lift both of your legs out to the side. You'll notice that it is NOT your calves and heels that keep you on the horse, but your hip bones This is called the "flipper" exercise -- if you can get a copy of Centered Riding you'll see it explained and supported with pictures.

        Essentially, I'd like to see you open your hip angle, relax the knees, and drop down (not force down) through the heel. Open the front of your body up, and feel as if you had little weights dangling from the bottom of each shoulder blade and each heel. Remember to breathe as you do this Sometimes when students try to work on their position, they hold their breath which causes more tension.
        Piaffe Girl -- Dressage. Fashionably.


        • Original Poster

          I do feel that I am constantly pulling my leg back, but it won't stay. I have another dressage saddle, and will see if it fits my horse and helps my position.

          I have been a "hunchback" my entire riding life. I will nag myself about it next time I ride!!

          I did wonder if my stirrups were too long. I will shorten them and see what happens.

          Do you all recommend no-stirrups work at all gaits including posting trot? I haven't done that since I was a kid!

          We are finally having a lesson next week after a decade with only a few lessons. We are coming back into work after a two year break. I would like to show Training Level this year with her... do you believe that would be doable?

          Thank you all so much! You have given me much to think about and work on.


          • #6
            I recommend no stirrups exercises in all gaits. Rising trot w/o stirrups is great, IMO, because you cannot post w/o stirrups and point your toes down. It's important not to allow yourself to hunch or pitch forward if you post though. Better to post correctly for only a few strides, than to post incorrectly for an entire session.
            Piaffe Girl -- Dressage. Fashionably.


            • #7
              Originally posted by grey_pony View Post
              I do feel that I am constantly pulling my leg back, but it won't stay. I have another dressage saddle, and will see if it fits my horse and helps my position.
              Yes, because the force of your stirrup placement is working against you.

              If your horse is good on the lunge line, then have your instructor lunge you for no-stirrups work so that she can help you reinforce good posture habits. A lot of times when people work without stirrups they end up putting themselves in a chair seat so it might not necessarily be the solution for you to try to do that yourself.

              With regard to your body position, yoga or pilates would be good to help you stretch and open up through the front of your body. Most of us are inclined to be hunchbacks because of how we spend our days sitting at the computer or driving - everything we do is in front of our bodies so it takes focus to open up through your chest.

              Here are some exercises you could do:

              1) inhale and reach your arms up overhead. As you exhale, bring your arms down and clasp your hands together behind your back; roll your shoulders up, back, and down so that your shoulder blades slide down your back. Hold for three breaths then inhale and sweep your arms up overhead and repeat.

              2) bridge pose. Lie flat on your back. Bring your arms close to your sides with your palms into the ground. Place your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart, and draw your heels toward your butt so that your fingertips can almost touch your heels. As you exhale, take the curve out of your spine so your lower back is flat on the floor. As you inhale, slowly peel your back off the floor, pushing through your heels and using your arms for balance. Your feet, shoulders and neck will stay on the floor and your shoulders will support you (don't put pressure on your neck). Lift your butt as high as you can and focus on pushing through your feet, feel like you're squeezing a block between your knees so they don't splay open. Keep your chin tucked and look at your hips and notice if one hip is higher than the other. If so, press the foot of the lower hip into the floor more to see if you can lift that hip. Inhale/exhale three times and on the last exhale, slowly lower to the floor.

              3) roll up a towel or small blanket so that it is long (you may need to fold once and then roll along the long side, not the short side). Lay the towel/blanket on the floor and then scoot your butt right up to the end of the roll (the short end where you can see the spiral of the roll). Now lay back so that the towel/blanket is along your spine and your head is resting on the blanket (that's why you want to roll it longways - so that you have room for your head to rest). Lie in a savasana-type position with your legs a bit separated and your arms about 45 degrees away from your torso. Just lie there and breathe and let your shoulder blades release and your chest open. Stay there for a few minutes.

              I think that riders really benefit from unmounted exercises because you've got enough to think about while you're in the saddle to focus on so many things at once! Doing yoga or pilates will help you develop body awareness so that you can begin to feel not only when your body is out of position/alignment, but how to change it.
              "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


              • Original Poster

                Originally posted by Pocket Pony View Post
                Yes, because the force of your stirrup placement is working against you.
                Do you think this could be fixed with a saddle fitter adjusting the saddle? I am currently trying to find a local saddle fitter. There is a Schleese saddle "clinic" a few hours away, but the timing doesn't work out to go to it. Unfortunately I have only had the saddle adjusted once in the 6 years I have owned it!


                • #9
                  Adjustment will help the saddle fit the horse better if that's the issue, but it won't change how it fits you, necessarily. Seat size, flap length and placement, and stirrup bar placement won't be affected.
                  Piaffe Girl -- Dressage. Fashionably.


                  • #10
                    I’d like to see more contact at the walk. Your reins are too slack at times. Your elbows should be closer to your sides. This will help keep her head from nodding. When you ask for the free walk, her head shouldn’t go all the way to the ground. Have her stretch no lower than her knees. Again, you need to keep a constant contact. Don’t throw away the reins. When you pick her back up to a medium walk, it should be quicker and smoother and she should follow the contact. You need more of an angle at your elbows. Keep a steady contact when you ask her for the trot. Heels down, toes pointed forward. Someone told me to think of flashlights on your toes lighting the way forward. A stronger core will help you with your position. You are letting her pull you forward. I would ask for more forward at the trot. You want her reaching underneath and she’s not doing it a 2:50 in the video. The long and low again is too low and you’ve lost your contact. Same as in the walk, when you pick her up at the trot you loose all contact. No flopping reins! 3:31 When you are trotting in the circle she should be bent to the inside. Your inside shoulder should be back and you should see her inside eye. 4:21 – things are coming together and this looks good! She’s reaching underneath at the trot, her nose is on the vertical. 4:51 She’s on the forehand at the canter. Think about sitting deeper in the seat and encouraging her to put her butt down and use more of her back legs. As with the previous two gates you tend to reach to forward with your hands, instead of keeping your elbows at your hips. This allows her to pull you forward and encourages her to fall on the forehand. Think of sitting there with a strong core, and moving your shoulders back. 5:47 Her trot is much better after the canter. Look at that frame at 5:47. She’s doing her job, however your hands appear to be on her neck. Keep the correct angle with your elbows so that you keep a constant contact on her mouth. 6:12. Even on a break there should be contact. You’ve thrown everything away. I would not switch the whip every time you change directions. Also, you should learn how to flip it, instead of pull it through. Pulling it will be distracting to the judge. And you don’t want to be flipping it each time you change direction in a test. 7:37 Take a look at that frame. Your reins are far too long. She is ahead of the vertical and completely downhill. Although your position looks good! Don’t let her pull the reins out of your hands, as this makes her lose her position. 7:42 You are cantering around with floppy reins. Don’t do that! Her poll is no longer the highest point of the body. Her head should not be going down that low at the canter. 7:44 she picks up her head, and because your reins are too long her nose is out and she’s not using her back legs. 7:51 Try moving her head from left to right in order to encourage her to reach for the contact. Think “uphill” as you canter. You want her to push herself with her back legs, not pull herself with her front. 8:13. What are you doing with all of that slack in the reins?8:30 you’ve let her go during the transition to a trot. Keep your core strong when you ask for the downward transition. Don’t give her the reins when she transitions. Keep your contact and your position between gates. Overall you have a strong seat and you will benefit with a trainer on the ground giving you real time instruction. When you are sitting correctly it helps to know it, so that you get that feel. And when you are doing something wrong, it helps to know that, so you can fix it immediately. Only a trainer on the ground can help there. Been there done that. ☺


                    • #11
                      Try putting a riser pad under the back of the saddle. It looks like it's unlevel, as in the back is lower than the front. If the back is higher and you feel more correct, you won't have to lean forward and hunch to get your balance. You will be able to sit straighter. Also, a hole a two shorter stirrups. See if that makes a difference.


                      • #12
                        I have no advice, but your horse is absolutely adorable!


                        • #13
                          I see a lack of connection. It looks like you are trying to be "kind" to her mouth. Instead your contact in inconsistent. Sit up. Relax your upper body (especially shoulders) and ride from your elbows. At first try actually looking up at the sky. You will feel like you are falling backwards but it will help straighten your position. If you are trying long and low let her slide the reins through your fingers instead of just giving them away. Open your hips. Cute pair.

                          I agree with trying a riser pad.
                          Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"


                          • #14



                            • #15
                              Oldies but goodies - thanks for posting that luvmydutch!

                              OP - watch the above youtube videos as we can all use a refresher on the basics!


                              • #16
                                The cantle of your saddle is too low, forcing you to sit behind the sweet spot. This part of the saddle is much wider, therefore your thigh cannot drape out of the hip socket correctly. This is causing the C back, chair seat, collapsed core, and leg struggles.
                                It's hard to tell for sure but it looks like you have a banana backed horse in a flat panel saddle with big gussets. The tree is also A and the horse is U.

                                A temporary fix would be to fold up a towel neatly under the back half of the saddle. Wedge enough til the top of the pommel, and the piping on the cantle are level, and your stirrup hange straight down. It's NOT a long term solution, but will do while you find and appropriate saddle.

                                Look into a nice lovatt and ricketts, or some of the teknas might work.
                                chaque pas est fait ensemble


                                • #17
                                  Listen to Jane!

                                  grey pony.- Jane as usual says it very well. Your elbows must give. Contrary to a previous poster's comment, horses nod, particularly at the walk and canter. The nod becomes less obvious in the collected gaits, which are still well above what you should be asking your horse. If your horse is so willing to stretch down that he almost reaches the ground, fine, take advantage of that. On a free rein, you haven't much choice. On a long rein, you have some control, but be subtle. In order to follow that nod your arms must give. Even in the collected walk, there should be a give, as the collecting comes from your seat and legs, not the reins. If you want an exaggerated but good example of how elbows can and must move, watch a jockey!!!!

                                  As far as your body goes, if you raise your shoulders,and roll them back, and open your chest, that roundness should disappear.

                                  You might want to come up a hole on your stirrups, and get a mental picture of you kneeling in order to bring your lower leg back and stabilize it. I know many of the UL riders ride with very long stirrups. They are riding from great strength, on exceedingly well schooled horses. However, if you are fighting an ill fitting saddle, it will make your life very difficult.

                                  Your horse is not only lovely, but is also a love.

                                  Ride on!!!!
                                  Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                                  Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                                  • #18
                                    I love your horse! I can't tell from my view if the video if it is a mare or gelding ( for some reason I am thinking mare) but the horse looks correctly trained and happy in its' work.

                                    I would investigate saddle fit for you. What you are riding in not only doesn't help you, but it looks to me as though you are so spending most of your riding fighting a saddle that is too small, esp. in the seat, so it is impossible for you to sit correctly balanced in the center of it. You can do all the position fixes you want, but if the saddle does not fit you correctly you will be constantly pulled back into an incorrect position.

                                    I would encourage you to ride in some different saddles and see how your position is effected. Once you are no longer fighting your tack your time spent improving your position will reap much better results


                                    • Original Poster

                                      You all are giving me such great advice, I can't wait to try to make some changes. I especially found the Jane Savoie videos helpful and easy to understand. I will definitely address the saddle issue, since it seems I can't really make progress until it is fixed. Luckily I am somewhat of a saddle hoarder, having 6 saddles and one horse! Hopefully one can work temporarily until I can meet with a saddle fitter.

                                      I am so excited to go out and ride now. I just have my toddler with me and hubby is at work. Can't I just put her in a backpack and take her riding too?! Lol, kidding... but I really am eager to implement some of this advice you all have given.

                                      Thank you for the compliments on my horse! She is a 16yo Arab/Standardbred mare, and has the best personality. Very special horse.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by grey_pony View Post
                                        Do you think this could be fixed with a saddle fitter adjusting the saddle? I am currently trying to find a local saddle fitter. There is a Schleese saddle "clinic" a few hours away, but the timing doesn't work out to go to it. Unfortunately I have only had the saddle adjusted once in the 6 years I have owned it!
                                        If you ask for a saddle fitter, in your area, someone on COTH should know one. Some saddle fitters are very intent on selling "their" saddles, so an independent one, if good is best.

                                        You have to tell us where you live.
                                        Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                                        Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.