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Do you force yourself to ride "even?"

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  • Do you force yourself to ride "even?"

    Whenever my stirrups are even, my left one feels shorter. I think this might be an actual physical thing because I've had some surgeries on my left side. I force myself to ride even even though it feels uneven...

    Do any of you feel uneven when you are even? Do you adjust so that you feel even, or do you forge yourself to ride even.

    I'm maybe a half hole to a hole different...

  • #2
    Everyone is assymmetric (humans are, by nature...think about your insides, one side has the heart, the liver is mainly situation to one side...all kinds of things.)

    Centered Riding Clinics are GREAT forums to experiment with the concept of "even" and explore how your horse (who is also assymmetric) responds.

    My legs and hips are relatively even. I don't have a major deformity or anything in that area, so I adjust my stirrups evenly, and when I feel "uneven"...I probably am.

    With my arms/shoulders...different story. My right arm is 4 inches shorted than the left, my fingers don't close completely, I don't have full range of motion in fingers, wrist, elbow OR shoulder, and most of the flexor muscle structure is missing. My right arm is even LIGHTER than my left! Consequently, I don't use my rein length as my major hint that my upper body is balanced. If my hands are in exactly the same spot along the reins relative to my horse's mouth, he's either bending, or I'm letting my right side stretch forward to make up distance.


    I guess it depends on how assymmetric your surgeries have made you.
    Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior

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    • #3
      It can totally be a physical thing.

      When I first started back riding about two years ago, I was riding two holes uneven and felt that I really wanted to be three holes uneven, but I wouldn't, on principle, let myself. It was bothering me that I was so uneven, but I rode better that way. Part of this is because my one ankle is just not at flexible as the other due to an old injury.

      About six months ago, I had to start seeing a chiropractor and I jokingly told her that my one leg is longer as evidenced by my stirrups. Oddly enough, the leg with the shorter stirrup, is actually my longer leg. She explained that it was my hips that were out of alignment not my uneven legs that were causing me to ride uneven. Within a few adjustments, I am quite comfortable riding only one hole uneven. Every once in a while I feel tempted to even them up to force myself to ride even, but I can live with being comfortable with one hole difference, rather than the two or three I was at before.

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      • #4
        I have also had a ton of surgeries, including a total knee reconstruction, on my right side so I know just what you mean. And yes, I do ride with my stirrups set so they are even.

        I am *always* trying to stretch/lengthen my right side to compensate for my inclination to favor it, and riding with that stirrup a half hole shorter wouldn't help that cause at all. In fact, my PT cautioned me years ago about guarding against sort of curling up on that side of my body and I am pretty religious about it, both on and off the horse. It makes a huge difference in my overall degree of mobility and comfort.

        If I allow my stirrup to be a half hole shorter on that side, the disparity also "travels" up my leg and affects how evenly I sit on both seat bones, etc which is obviously not a good thing, and interestingly enough, in the end, it results in more discomfort, not less, once I get off the horse. Even after years and years of dealing with this issue, though, it is pretty much a constant battle, and I would guess it's going to stay that way.
        **********
        We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
        -PaulaEdwina

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        • #5
          Yes.

          I buy lined, no-stretch leathers and put each on the same hole.
          They are set even (and incidentally they also feel even but I have been setting them this way for years).

          Interestingly, I sat on Luke The Horse Simulator at a show once and according to the sensors or whatever the person teaching the simulator lesson said I sat pretty much exactly centered. Couldn't get the damn thing to WHOA but I sat in the middle.

          So whatever that's worth.
          The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
          Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
          Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
          The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by Lucassb View Post
            I have also had a ton of surgeries, including a total knee reconstruction, on my right side so I know just what you mean. And yes, I do ride with my stirrups set so they are even.
            So that they are set even or so that they feel even?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by AmmyByNature View Post
              So that they are set even or so that they feel even?
              So that they are SET even, ie, on the same hole on both sides.

              Initially they did not feel even, but that is no longer the case. However, I will note that I feel more stretch (through the hip, mostly) on my right side, whereas my left leg just kind of normally "hangs" that long on its own. Maintaining that posture used to take a constant, mindful effort and is now more or less second nature, but it's definitely something I had to teach myself to do over time.
              **********
              We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
              -PaulaEdwina

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              • #8
                While we're on this topic, does anyone have any good exercises to make you SIT even?

                What feels "straight" to me isn't and I don't have anyone with me 3/4 of the time to tell me to "lean out" or whatever (lean out to me is straight, apparently). If anyone has any good ideas for corrections, I'm all ears.
                ---
                They're small hearts.

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                • #9
                  Yes, I force myself to sit even. A dressage clinician recently helped me figure out that the reason my right leg/stirrup feels so much shorter than the left is caused by my entire torso being oriented slightly to the left (about 5 degrees off center) and tending to collapse my right shoulder. When I hold my upper body correctly, the stirrups feel almost even. And all these years I was blaming it on my uneven leg length caused by mild scoliosis. It probably DOES go back to the scoliosis' effect on my spine/pelvis/etc, but it's not as simple as saying "one of my legs is longer than the other so my stirrups feel uneven."
                  Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Trixie View Post
                    While we're on this topic, does anyone have any good exercises to make you SIT even?

                    What feels "straight" to me isn't and I don't have anyone with me 3/4 of the time to tell me to "lean out" or whatever (lean out to me is straight, apparently). If anyone has any good ideas for corrections, I'm all ears.
                    For starters I would buy stirrups that will always be the same length, put them on an equal hole, and focus on weighting them evenly.

                    If you start with a level foundation to build on I think you will be on the right track.
                    The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                    Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
                    Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                    The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

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                    • #11
                      Trixie, is your saddle still straight?

                      According to my saddle fitter, plenty of saddles start to take on the imbalance of their rider...which creates a cycle that can be tough to break.


                      If you can train with a mirror, try using a contrasting belt at your waist (dancers use this, ballerinas will wear a light coloured belt against their usual black bodysuit)

                      Wear plain, light breeches or tights that don't have any fancy seams or colours on them to skew your eye. Likewise with shirt, anything with a contrasting line can cause problems...you're usually just glancing in the mirror!


                      One thing that my Feldenkrais practitioner/clinician/horse's breeder and trainer taught me was to take a little feeling of "wrong"...then to TRY and be MORE wrong. For example, I felt I was sitting too far forward, so he had me put ALL my weight forward while my horse walked, then rock all the way back and to keep doing it until my brain learned "forward" and "behind" with respet to my moving horse. THEN he had me try to sit balanced, and re-analyze whether I was too far forward or back. Turns out I had a tendency to sit back more than anything!

                      The big message from Feldenkrais training is that you need to provide a new motor input for your brain to start developing a "new" way of moving. Instead of THINKING that you need to drop your heel, the practitioner might position your leg so that the heel drops...and then tell you "there, THAT" now replicate THAT. You consciously get your brain to find out the "command" that creates that same input.


                      It's so neat for riding. It really fascinates me, because even if you don't have a practitioner, your horse is a BRILLIANT mirror, if you know what to look for. Think you lean left? Pick up a trot and REALLY lean left. What does your horse do? What does he do when you lean right? Can you isolate small feedback from the horse on a slight lean after identifying what he does in the "large" lean?

                      Just musings, I think this stuff is very cool...but because humans can get easily lost in their own heads (to the point of actually not seeing what's in the mirror) it definitely helps to have another human come and look at you.
                      Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Really interesting post, rugbygirl!

                        My legs are not perfectly even (are anyone's?), but I always ride with even stirrups. I've been using nylon lined stirrups for the last decade or so and have had zero issues inequal stretching. I don't know if that's because I've focused enough on equal balance that I don't stretch one more than the other side (highly unlikely ), but I won't ride with anything else now.

                        Trixie - I had an issue with symmetry from side to side...I wanted to twist in my seat which put my left leg too far forward and my right leg in the correct place. I addressed it via no stirrups, which worked wonders in conjunction with being acutely aware of where my body parts were at all times. And because sitting unevenly impacts your leg position, it was really simple to look down and see whether my toes were in the same place on either side. If they weren't I wasn't sitting evenly, if they were I was.
                        __________________________________
                        Flying F Sport Horses
                        Horses in the NW

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                        • #13
                          Yes. Most people have a dominant leg (mine is my right leg) and tendency to be uneven. That is not good for the horse and you have to mindfully be aware of and counter that tendency. I check whether I have equally weighted my feet several times per ride, especially after I've been doing lateral work since that has a tendency to make me uneven since your legs are doing such different things. And since I do a lot of lateral work, I try to remind myself to get back into neutral.

                          I replace my leathers every few years once I notice stretching which I do, even with the lined ones. Maybe more due to the fact I often mount from the ground since I have to set my own jumps, since I do try hard to ride even. My left always ends up longer. I switch them out regularly but still they start to deviate from each other over time.

                          Also -- avoid oiling your leathers to prevent stretch.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Very interesting. Ok, you all have motivated me to work on riding with my stirrups even ... after this weekend's show . I've always been a get on and get the job done rider with limited formal training, but since I have started back riding with a goal of showing, I am really trying to work on my position flaws. Lately, I noticed that I have somehow gotten rid of my crooked ankle flaw -- which I noticed has plagued me since I was a leadliner oh so long ago. Maybe there is hope for the crooked stirrup leather flaw, too? Thanks for bringing up this topic AbN.

                            I have also invested in a pair of lined stirrup leathers that shouldn't stretch and alternate them periodically. My previous pair was always stretching and it was really hard to keep them even (or at least feeling even).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              If I have a student that wants to ride with their stirrups uneven, I send them to Physiotherapy. Often it is an issue with posture/hips and allowing them to continue to ride with uneven stirrups just makes the issue worse. I don't think just forcing the stirrups to be even will be enough to make you even out hips that are crooked...instead I think you will end up riding with a more open knee angle on one side; you need someone to help you get to the root of why you want the stirrups shorter which could be a really good instructor, or a physiotherapist type person.

                              I did have a student once you found out her one leg was considerably shorter than the other, which had been throwing her entire body out of wack for years (when walking around). For her it made sense to have the one stirrup shorter so she could maintain an even hip and knee angle when riding, and as she resolved her leg length different in real life, her riding and general posture improved.
                              Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

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                              • #16
                                Gosh, mine are not even at all. I also have an angled stirrup on my left stirrup and a flat stirrup on the right. My left side is all messed up and because of weird hip issues, I need a slanted stirrup on that side.

                                To think I'm only in my mid 20s...
                                Southern Cross Guest Ranch
                                An All Inclusive Guest Ranch Vacation - Georgia

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by AmmyByNature View Post
                                  Whenever my stirrups are even, my left one feels shorter. I think this might be an actual physical thing because I've had some surgeries on my left side. I force myself to ride even even though it feels uneven...

                                  Do any of you feel uneven when you are even? Do you adjust so that you feel even, or do you forge yourself to ride even.

                                  I'm maybe a half hole to a hole different...
                                  My left hip is higher due to very mild scoliosis which tilts my pelvis.
                                  I'm sure glad I never had a trainer make me ride with even stirrups...or one that would have told me to see a doc about it. geez.

                                  and
                                  I have 20% more dorsiflexion in my right ankle. Think, it so easily flexes that if I'm galloping it may slip out of the stirrup because my toe almost points straight up.

                                  When I ride with my stirrups even then my right leg is longer...and it drives me nuts!!

                                  So I ride with my right stirrup 1 hole higher and I also have to push that foot further in the stirrup to impede flexion.


                                  When I fell off last year I busted my left leg up pretty well--to where my foot wouldn't even flex flat on the ground. My achellies tendon was trashed and my calf complex was busted into one giant knot. (along with a winky lil hairline in my tibia...ugggh)
                                  But I had to ride...right!

                                  Because I was totally unable to flex my lower leg, I had to drop that stirrup 6 holes to make my legs drape evenly on the horse.

                                  Your ankle flexion has a tremendous effect on leg length when riding!!
                                  http://kaboomeventing.com/
                                  http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
                                  Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!

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