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Horribly embarrassed

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  • Horribly embarrassed

    So for the first time in several years of trying to learn dressage (coming from the hunter world), I had someone take a short film of me. My position is so horrible that I am totally embarrassed. First, I am in a chair seat. Worse, my toes totally stick straight out. I have always felt as though my ankle was breaking if I tried to point my toes forward. My natural position seems to be with toes out (I mean they now look even too far out for decent hunter position; I swear I'm much worse than I was when I had a decent hunter trainer years ago; I look like a novice rider.) Any suggestions on fixing my chair seat and my toes? (I'm actually too embarrassed to post the video, it is so horrible.)

  • #2
    Nothing like dressage to humble a person! Since I also suffer from your "faults" I look forward to hearing some helpful responses .

    Comment


    • #3
      Lessons on a lunge line without stirrups.

      Your feet will fall in a more correct position, when you are opening your hip joint so you legs "drape" around the saddle.

      Comment


      • #4
        yep, ankle has little to do with toe position, it comes from way up.

        The saddle might not sit right to have you positioned way to far back.
        Originally posted by BigMama1
        Facts don't have versions. If they do, they are opinions
        GNU Terry Prachett

        Comment


        • #5
          Try a saddle that's cut with a straighter flap so you aren't fighting your leg (if it feels stuck out in front of you) Thigh blocks may help. What saddle are you in, presently? See if you can try different saddles...

          After that, yes, without stirrup work is probably the best way to "relearn."

          Good luck!!!

          Comment


          • #6
            Don't feel bad, everytime I ride I picture that I have the most correct, beautiful, shoulder-hip-heel alignment with a lonnnnggg leg, heel down and beautifully draped on sides of the horse. Then I see myself on video and am quite humbled , and shocked , at how far apart it is between what I LOOK like and how I thought I was riding!!

            Ditto the suggestions above!

            Comment


            • #7
              Ride without stirrups, allowing your leg to hang straight down out of the hip socket. If you are not bent in the waist, but are in the saddle more toward a standing position than a sitting position--that is closer to correct. You need to stay in that position when you take your stirrups back. This is really hard without a lot of core strength.

              Hunter riders spend so much time in half seat that they develop strong front and inner quadricep muscles, calf muscles and lower back muscles, but the muscles at the back of the thigh and the ab muscles are very weak. When they sit in the saddle, they collapse at the waist (as you do sitting in a chair.) If you are collapsed in the waist and not stretched tall and upright on your seat bones then your thigh comes out of the socket with the knee pointing upward and the thighs are rolled outward. The outward rotation of the thigh also rotates the toes out.

              What can you do? For one, take up Pilates. It really strengthens the core muscles and helps you to hold the proper position. You may also want to look into the writings and videos of Mary Wanless http://www.mary-wanless.com/

              who has a really good technique for teaching these concepts.
              Good luck.
              "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

              Comment


              • #8
                Imagine (and put into practice) a femur straight and flat onto your saddle slap...and elongate your leg while imagining your legs are a wet heavy towel that hugs your horse. Think to yourself, "if this horse were to be taken from beneath me, would I stand up straight, fall backwards or forward?" You should be able to stand up on your two feet with a balanced positions and legs right under your shoulders if the horse were to "POOF" be gone.

                Somethine I always think about...to remind me to do this and have a breathing leg without gripping (which after time will becom second nature) is to always keep the knee on..your knee should always have contact....so that a dollar bill cannot get away if there were one between the saddle and you.

                Remember to sit on your crotch NOT YOUR BUTT PADS....in other words, DO NOT ROLL BACK ON YOUR butt bones. SIT UP STRAIGHT...knees on and under you at all times, and toes in. Tell yourself this every box you ride.

                My trainer WILL Make me stop and readjust myself. When you get to the upper levels and wear spurs and what not, if you do not learn discipline in your leg, you will give your horse mixed signals, spur him, and just be flat out disorganized, unfair to your horse, and non communicative.

                Do yourself a favor and practice the above at a walk (Stirrups crossed over, legs stretched down long)....as deep and light as you can, and brace with your back and your core in the half halts to control your seat....DO NOT learn to grip with your legs to control your body....THIS IS A MISTAKE so many make, and bad habits are hard to break. WHile this may take some practice, you and your horse are going to be so much happier...and he will thank you for it...and most importantly, when learning all of this, for the sake of the horse, DO NOT BALANCE with your hands. Learn to make these independent.

                Good luck and enjoy the journey.

                Build up by doing lots and lots of this MINDFUL position checking in conjunction with several walk and trot transitions, so as to make your horse honest to the aids and you learn to refine not only your position, but timing too!
                "Lose your temper, lose your horse" -someone wise enough to know better than to pick a fight with a 1200 lb animal that could launch you to the moon.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Eclectic Horseman View Post
                  You may also want to look into the writings and videos of Mary Wanless http://www.mary-wanless.com/

                  who has a really good technique for teaching these concepts.
                  Good luck.
                  I was going to suggest this too. Mary Wanless' writings helped me visualize how I should be aligned.

                  Let me also suggest that your saddle may not fit you well. If you are fighting your tack it's very difficult to stay in alignment. If the saddle puts you in a chair seat it's likely that the stirrup bars are positioned too far forward for you anatomy. I know people like to think that the saddle doesn't matter but that's just not true. I would try borrowing a few saddles to see if it's easier to find the right alignment.

                  Once you're in the right saddle, then the lunge work and no stirrup work will help strengthen your muscles.

                  One thing I love, love, love about my Roosli dressage saddle is that it makes sitting in a balanced position pretty effortless. My leg just goes where it is supposed to go. I have very long femurs so many, many saddles put me in a chair seat. I finally figured out that a saddle with the right cut flap (dressage and jumping) and with the stirrup bar positioned further back, makes a HUGE difference.

                  Good luck!
                  Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                  EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    First - check that the saddle is balanced correctly fore to aft. Until this is correct you will be p-ss-ng in the wind.
                    ... _. ._ .._. .._

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Yoga. My hips were so tight that I couldn't let my leg drape down. My leg pinched and my toes turned out no matter what I did. After a few months of yoga, I noticed that my leg was softer, and my toes were pointing forward.

                      ~Shelly~
                      http://community.webshots.com/user/smithereens_86
                      http://www.youtube.com/user/smithereens86

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I went to a clinic this year where I demonstrated the SOOPER novice tendency to bring my leg forward (so as to brace against the reins better on my forward TB ) the overwhelming opinion of the audience was "lunge line riding without stirrups" but the overwhelming opinion of the clinician was "she won't learn proper position IN the tack if she spends all her time working OUTSIDE her tack." My coach agrees with this assessment. The clinician (Mette Rosencrantz) was quick to point out that many (many, not all or even most, don't flame me) people use riding without stirrups as a crutch and it does nothing to help their position problems once they get the stirrups back.

                        Agree with checking saddle fit, and agree with working on pointing your knee the right way. Relax your lower leg for a while and don't concentrate on where your toes are maybe?? My coach has also suggested to me many times to think of my lower leg position as "just being there because it is attached"...I am probably killing her explanation...I believe it was to get me to stop thinking about heels down/toes forward and to start thinking about balanced seat and properly engaged thighs and hips.
                        Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Boy you are getting alot of great advice. Besides the change in seat you can achieve by working without stirrups and taking up the correct position, with your hips over your feet (or your lower leg pulled under your hips)and your shoulders over your hips, do try a different saddle. The picture, BTW should be a straight line throught the middle of your shoulder, through the middle of your hip, through the middle of your knee, throught the stirrup. Then, the line should be perpendicular to the ground, so get some photos and a ruler and see where you are deviating. Try the photos in different saddles, too.

                          My own trainer got a new saddle this summer, and she started wowing the judges, yes, feedback of the greatest kind. She started really feeling the strides and man did she look better. What she said she felt was that she wasn't fighting to pull her leg back anymore. Her leg falls in the correct place. Her new saddle is an albion, BTW, but that's neither here nor there, everyone is different. But do see if you can't try some different saddles and see if that helps. If you are lucky, you have a tack shop with used saddles who might let you take some of them home to try out. You may be pleasantly surprised.
                          Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by AnotherRound View Post
                            What she said she felt was that she wasn't fighting to pull her leg back anymore. Her leg falls in the correct place. Her new saddle is an albion, BTW, but that's neither here nor there, everyone is different. But do see if you can't try some different saddles and see if that helps.
                            I agree. I tried one of my instructor's saddles recently, and spent most of the lesson trying to get my legs under me. I'm sure a video or photo would NOT have been pretty.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Excellent advice given here. Here's one more thing that I don't think has been mentioned. Play around with your stirrup length. Try them a hole or two shorter. Try them longer. I had the opposite problem years ago when my teacher at that time insisted on adjusting my stirrups very long. Try as I might, I could NOT maintain a decent position and riding was uncomfortable. Why? Because I was being forced into a "fork" seat. When I changed riding teachers, the new one shortened my stirrups by two holes and voila! No more fork seat and I magically had better control of my legs.

                              Still had (and STILL have) years of work left to do, though! Don't be discouraged! This is a lifetime endeavor.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Horsepower View Post
                                So for the first time in several years of trying to learn dressage (coming from the hunter world), I had someone take a short film of me. My position is so horrible that I am totally embarrassed. First, I am in a chair seat. Worse, my toes totally stick straight out. I have always felt as though my ankle was breaking if I tried to point my toes forward. My natural position seems to be with toes out (I mean they now look even too far out for decent hunter position; I swear I'm much worse than I was when I had a decent hunter trainer years ago; I look like a novice rider.) Any suggestions on fixing my chair seat and my toes? (I'm actually too embarrassed to post the video, it is so horrible.)
                                and so---------matey sometimes why the toes stick out is becuase the stirrups are the worng length which effects your position read my helpful links pages on the sticky above
                                you will find how to alter your stirrups on there for jumping you oik them up one or two holes for gp riding they stay the same if in a gp saddle and for dressage you donk them down one or two

                                so alter the stirrups to the correct lenght - then sit in chin frust the bust and then that pushes the weight down your back and into your ankles if you cant turn toes in then do the next thing point them forwards - as long as they forwards you leg is on the girth

                                if your toes are pointing outwards your legs are off the girth and so is your knees and thigh
                                which is why you are unbalanced ------ easy to fix so work on your position then the rest will fall into place as in leg on secure leg open/closed legs as when you need to use your inner mussles to instruct the horse

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I believe that most people who ride in a chair seat are riding in a poory fitting saddle - poorly fitting for themselves or their horse. Especially if they come from hunter or jumper land because these folks need to have a balanced seat to maintain form over a fence. They often lean forward or have trouble stretching the legs down, but they rarely have chair seat problems in a properly fitted saddle.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I have recently bought two Mary Wanless books - helped so much as I now know how to correct my tendency to fall forward. Instructor was very surprised with improvement of my seat AND I feel much more secure.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Kaluna makes a good point...

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Equibrit View Post
                                        First - check that the saddle is balanced correctly fore to aft. Until this is correct you will be p-ss-ng in the wind.
                                        Big Fat Ditto.

                                        And ditto to those who said/agreed that often it's the saddle. But really, sometimes it IS the rider. I see so many Hunter riders who ride with their stirrup leathers angled forward because they are physically pushing back against the stirrups, when there nothing about the saddle that would have them do that.

                                        It takes a GOOD trainer to see the difference. It's freaky-scary how many trainers know less than nothing about saddle fit for horse and rider

                                        My next suggestion is find a really good Dressage instructor who LOVES to put basics on a rider, one who is not afraid to put hands ON you to move your body into the right position. It makes a world of difference to have someone emphatically PUT you in place, instead of you working incrementally towards it because you really cannot fathom being THAT out of position. It's really amazing how different just a couple of inches difference in position can feel - feels like miles, really.

                                        You can "feel" all you want, and in some/many cases is really helps. But for another many cases, your feel can deceive you 'til the cows come home.
                                        ______________________________
                                        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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