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Exercises for short riders?

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  • Exercises for short riders?

    Hey everyone! I'm 5'1'' and regularly ride big warmblood types. I am soon going to be moving up to some bigger fences (moving from 3'6'' to 3'9''-4ft) and was wondering if anyone can give me some tips on how to keep my leg stiller. I have a hard time wrapping it around a horse's barrel so it slides forward slightly and then slides pretty far back over fences.

    Any exercises on or off the horse would be appreciated!

  • #2
    You need to get your legs super, super strong. No stirrups for you! I'm also wondering if your saddle doesn't put you in the best position, since you said your leg slides forward slightly. It is so, so important to have a saddle that fits you when you're tiny - I know I had a lot of trouble in some IHSA saddles because I was swimming in them and couldn't hang on very well (at Nationals, I had a tough time staying with my horse because the saddle was HUGE for me).

    You have to think not to brace in your heels to try and compensate for your height. I'm also around 5'1'' and occasionally found myself doing that in IHSA flats when I was on big horses who got heavy; I was always better without my stirrups because I couldn't brace my foot that way.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/supershorty628
    Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!

    Comment


    • #3
      I feel your pain...I am 5'1 on big barrelled warmbloods who are 17hh. No I was not foolish enough to buy them that way. I am stuck with what I have bred. I have not found anything that really helps except to have a strong core and use stick'um. A short person on a big barrelled horse pops off easily if the leg moves even a little. Sometimes I pray there is a horse under me on landing and certainly the more push they give (like over a bigger fence) the harder it is to manage my body. I have been thinking recently I need a thin horse or a bad jumper that has no push. I will be watching this thread for suggestions too.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by supershorty628 View Post
        I'm also wondering if your saddle doesn't put you in the best position, since you said your leg slides forward slightly. It is so, so important to have a saddle that fits you when you're tiny - I know I had a lot of trouble in some IHSA saddles because I was swimming in them and couldn't hang on very well (at Nationals, I had a tough time staying with my horse because the saddle was HUGE for me).
        .

        My saddle has a long flap. -facepalm- I know. Why did no one tell me that was a bad plan?! I would love a saddle that fits me better (I've been cruising used ones online) but I just can't afford it at the moment.

        Also, what level are you in IHSA? I'm open/open and I have heard that when you're shorter you really have to fight for your ribbons because you're just not going to make as pretty a picture as a taller rider (and in open you have really solid eq in the flat classes anyway.)

        Comment


        • #5
          I did open/open and had no trouble getting ribbons, particularly on the flat. I have pretty good proportions for equitation though; I have a short upper body and comparatively long legs. I did have an alarming tendency to draw enormous horses, but it almost always worked out.

          This is what I looked like on a relatively narrow 16.1 hand horse at Nationals -- I fit him pretty well because he didn't have a huge barrel. http://pets.webshots.com/photo/27524...54933411fmbUzd

          Whereas one of our shows up here, I drew an 18 hand behemoth (he was lovely to ride, I just felt like a flea or a Thelwell kid sitting up there) and looked ridiculous: http://pets.webshots.com/photo/21286...54933411wNuGnZ

          My mare is 15.3 7/8 hands but has a big barrel, so I look kind of small on her too, especially when I have my stirrups hiked up for big classes: http://pets.webshots.com/photo/24282...54933411dYjRnh
          Last edited by supershorty628; Apr. 4, 2011, 09:51 PM. Reason: Fixed links (hopefully)
          http://www.youtube.com/user/supershorty628
          Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!

          Comment


          • #6
            I'm about the same height and have been stuck on horses of all sizes for as long as I can remember. My first big jumper was a 16.3h Hanoverian I leased at age 11... you can imagine how tiny I must have looked up there! But yes, lots and lots of work without stirrups to get your leg strong. Through practice I also got a really good sense of where my horse was going to be (this is harder when you ride a variety of horses) and could anticipate where I needed to balance if we got a bad distance to a fence. Also, I found that both vaulting and yoga helped with the strength and balance (particularly the vaulting). I know those aren't options for everyone, but I found they both really helped with my riding - not to mention are extremely fun.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Its funny because I have also tend to gravitate towards big horses. I did the short stirrup on a 16.2 ottb!

              My last horse was a jumper, and she was about 17.2 with a belly.

              I have to say I haven't found my height to be that detrimental. I've definitely had some solid places, and if I didn't do well on the flat I usually knew why (horse was head tossing, my leg got a little loose, bouncy horse in a sit trot, etc.) But my coach has mentioned it a few times and was curious to see if anyone else felt the same.

              Couldn't see the fb pics, but I imagine myself on an 18h horse and can probably get a fairly accurate mental picture!

              Comment


              • #8
                Whether you are short or tall strong legs are a must. I have the opposite problem, very tall. No barrel to put my legs around.
                If you have a good ground person, have them lunge you on your horse a couple of times a month. No stirrups, no reins.
                http://STA551.com
                845-363-1875

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by supershorty628 View Post
                  I did open/open and had no trouble getting ribbons, particularly on the flat. I have pretty good proportions for equitation though; I have a short upper body and comparatively long legs. I did have an alarming tendency to draw enormous horses, but it almost always worked out.

                  This is what I looked like on a relatively narrow 16.1 hand horse at Nationals -- I fit him pretty well because he didn't have a huge barrel. http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/...770419&theater

                  Whereas one of our shows up here, I drew an 18 hand behemoth (he was lovely to ride, I just felt like a flea or a Thelwell kid sitting up there) and looked ridiculous: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/...770419&theater
                  Can't see the pics. Can you chance the settings? (Don't mean to be a pain I'd just like like to see

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If you're concerned with your saddle fit, then definitely keep hunting! I bought a new saddle last year with a short flap (I'm 5'2") and it made a huge difference. I actually rode in my old saddle the other day and within 10 min, I was like "oh, right, I remember now...) I know it won't help for IHSA, but I also know you're not doing 3'6"-4' in IHSA. Haunt Beval's used site and any consignment tack shops near you. Good luck and congrats for making it to 3'6"-4'!
                    "Radar, the man's ex-cavalry: if he sees four flies having a meeting, he knows they're talking about a horse!" Cptn. BJ Hunnicutt, M*A*S*H Season 4, Episode "Dear Mildred"

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by JBCool View Post
                      If you're concerned with your saddle fit, then definitely keep hunting! I bought a new saddle last year with a short flap (I'm 5'2") and it made a huge difference. I actually rode in my old saddle the other day and within 10 min, I was like "oh, right, I remember now...)
                      What kind of saddle did you end up getting? I haven't seen a lot of brand that offer a shorter flap.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I too am usually short-on-wide. It's the wrong conformation and look. But I do like me a phat ol' hunter.

                        I'll do a somewhat technical riff on what others have said.

                        Yes, to no stirrups. You do need a lot of muscular strength so that you aren't temped to just jam your heel down to get the job done.

                        Yes, to a short-flap saddle that you aren't fighting. Chances are that you have ridden in saddles that haven't supported you the way the "more normal" sized tallies get from theirs. You may not know what you are missing.

                        Yes, to more core strength than your average bear.

                        But you need to put the leg- and core strength together. What makes your leg hold still is two things, IMO;;

                        1) Strong, flexible hips that let you turn your whole leg forward from the top. It makes your leg pretty and gives you the best shot at relaxing your hips.

                        2) The ability to find and relax your hips as you ride. Think of them as the "shock absorber" or "the middle man" between your thigh and everything higher up. Lots of people hold their hips stiff in order to stabilize their upper-body. But then your leg will swing.

                        It takes some time and practice to figure out how to relax those deep muscles around your hip joints If you are strong everywhere else, it's easier to "not cheat" and stiffen them. But good hips are key to that Centaur look where your thigh down is rock solid and part of the horse and you do whatever you like with your upper body.
                        The armchair saddler
                        Politically Pro-Cat

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Short stuff

                          Hey, I can relate, too. There is no substitute for a strong leg, so yep we have to ride without stirrups. But we shorties still have to compensate for less leverage. It can be done - watch Margie Engel ride over big courses! Saddle fit is a good point, too. I had a variety of top saddles - Hermes, Butet, etc. - but I didn't realize how much the fit would help me until I worked with a saddle fitter. Finally, one trainer (who is also short) told me to turn my toes out more than typical for equitation. This really helps get "more" leg on my horses - all round warmbloods. A dull, round spur with a longer neck can also help with some horses. They look big, but they aren't severe and give a little more "reach."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Very interesting thread...always wanted to ask this...

                            I too am 5ft "tall" (if you want to call that tall...) and am showing two different horses. Both have big barrels, long strides but are totally different in height: one is 16h and the other is 17.3h.
                            I have found that not only embracing your horse with your legs is an issue but also the leverage, as someone stated before. I have watched Margie Engle over and over and what I see is that she keeps herself very centered and her horses tend to jump a little more high-headed and somewhat more flat (not letting them use all their bascule completely...). Horses with more natural impulsion seem to be a must and her release is a bit tight (not because she wants to but because of arm length). Correct me if I'm wrong in any or all of this...
                            Both my horses are a little difficult for me: one because of size (17.3 although fortunately uphill and pretty light) and the other because he is very downhill with a big stride and long back (that's where the leverage problem kicks in...). Big mare is easy to get impulsion and balance but her jump is too powerful at times, the smaller gelding is a little unbalanced and hence comfortable impulson is hard to achieve.
                            Keep the input coming. This is very interesting!
                            Over what hill? Where? When? I don\'t remember any hill....

                            www.freewebs.com/caballerizadelviso

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Ack, I don't know how to link Facebook pictures anymore with that stupid slide show way of showing them...I'll save them to my laptop and upload them to another website...

                              EDIT: Revised links should work now.
                              http://www.youtube.com/user/supershorty628
                              Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by supershorty628 View Post
                                Ack, I don't know how to link Facebook pictures anymore with that stupid slide show way of showing them...I'll save them to my laptop and upload them to another website...
                                Press F5 to refresh the page (it will come up with the old format) then right click and copy the image's URL.
                                My CANTER cutie Chip and IHSA shows!
                                http://www.youtube.com/kheit86

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by To the MAX View Post
                                  Press F5 to refresh the page (it will come up with the old format) then right click and copy the image's URL.
                                  You're my new best friend for telling me that.
                                  http://www.youtube.com/user/supershorty628
                                  Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I am 5'1 and just went through the whole process of trying to find a saddle to fit my leg. I was looking at saddles at Dover for under 1,500 and alot of them were ruled out because it was to long on my leg. I ended up with an ovation. The first time I rode in it I felt like my leg was all of a sudden there. I have only had it a week but I feel so much strong on my 17h. wb cross.

                                    I hope strong enough to stop him from bucking at the first show.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by jay0087 View Post
                                      I am 5'1 and just went through the whole process of trying to find a saddle to fit my leg. I was looking at saddles at Dover for under 1,500 and alot of them were ruled out because it was to long on my leg. I ended up with an ovation. The first time I rode in it I felt like my leg was all of a sudden there. I have only had it a week but I feel so much strong on my 17h. wb cross.

                                      I hope strong enough to stop him from bucking at the first show.
                                      I actually have an ovation! Maybe I should see if it would cost me anything to trade my used one for another used one with a regular flap...

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Just to jump in, I am 5'1 IHSA rider too! I have been lucky and I usually draw horses that fit me pretty well.

                                        Any ways, I have a 16.5 Antares that I found well priced on ebay and I couldn't recommend it more, fits my petite self really really well.
                                        “It's about the horse and that's it.” - GM

                                        !! is the new .

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