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What are you doing to become a better rider?

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  • What are you doing to become a better rider?

    I want to become adept at no stirrups work but do not just want to lose the stirrups cold turkey (I'm 49 and don't want to kill myself- or develop bad habits like a pinched knee). I am working on dropping my stirrups for short amounts of time with the goal of working up to at least 20 - 30 minutes no stirrups. I have no problems riding bareback and have a fairly independent seat and leg. I also want to correct my tendency to "jump ahead." I don't do it 100% of the time but I want to completely lose the habit. I have been working on jumping with no hands on neck, looking ahead or to the side (not down!!!!!), planning to move up to jumping with no stirrups. Hoping to find someone to make me do no reins on the lunge line!

    So what are you doing? Let's give each other positive feedback and support!

  • #2
    I'm learning a new discipline.

    I'm at school out-of-state and my horse (hunter) is back home. I met a girl wanting to start a collegiate stock horse team and I said, love to join but don't have a horse here. She got me in contact with the lady whose place we'd be practicing at and who had horses available for lease. So now I'm riding a 3 y/o registered AQHA, nice little horse (well, coming from HJ land, I think he's little!), very well trained for his age. I'm having a lot of fun. It's so much fun to be just trotting along, then lean back, put your feet in front of you and say WHOA, and the horse just plants their feet.

    I'm getting the chance to ride something green again, since the barn I moved to in January doesn't really offer that opportunity and it's low key fun. We're going to be concentrating on the pleasure and trail classes, I don't know if we'll ever show but it doesn't really matter to me. I'm learning something new and getting to experience a whole new side of the industry. And really at this point, any contact with a horse is appreciated.

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    • #3
      I'm riding the types of horses I know I don't ride well! Part of that is prep for IHSA, but a bigger part is wanting to be able to get on anything and feel at least somewhat comfortable. My type of ride is uphill and forward, and I have been trying to ride as many downhill/slow types as I can. I'm really starting to feel a difference, and going back and forth between the types is teaching me how to be a more subtle rider and only use enough aid to get what I need.
      Last edited by Rel6; Oct. 6, 2012, 03:23 AM. Reason: spelling

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      • #4
        At 44 I feel impatient at times, often thinking things like "tomorrow I'm going to stop jumping ahead - forever." And I long for the perfect leg. Completely eliminating fear. Never hunching my shoulders.....

        What I do is stay fit by swimming and doing the elliptical trainer. Dropping my stirrups (I can now get around the ring once). I've had my own horse for a year now, and a new arena, so I can ride 5-6 days a week.

        Yesterday I was frustrated after a fairly crappy ride. I try to keep everything in perspective by reminding myself that in only 5 years I've made great progress, and if it was no longer challenging I wouldn't be as driven.
        Last edited by keatssu; Oct. 6, 2012, 09:58 AM. Reason: Typo

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        • #5
          I'm also 49 and am trying to make October "no stirrups month". I pulled the stirrups off my saddle Tuesday and am planning it again today. We will see how it goes! I may chicken out as the month goes on.
          ~ Citizens for a Kinder, Gentler COTH...our mantra: Be nice. ~

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          • #6
            I am riding a pony! He really needs strong leg and seat aids, as well as a longer rein. These are all things that I have problems with, so he forces me to deal with my problems rather than hiding behind a well-trained horse.

            I also need to just get stronger and bossier with my aids, so the gym is helping with that!

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            • #7
              Most of what I'm doing is taking place off the horse's back. I'm not great at dieting, but many days when i hit a slump and am craving something nutritionally worthless, the thing that stops me is my riding. That's the only thing that holds any power, not a bathing suit or whatever- its thinking about how all the candy bars add up to a sluggish, huffing and puffing ride.
              I pass the slow time at work imagining how the typical ride goes and what my aides need to feel like, improving my posture and becoming more self aware. Doesn't happen all the time but I can use all the help I can get!
              Journal keeping after my lessons. I've been slacking on it a little, but I definitely retain more when I spend the time thinking about the lesson and recalling what my trainer has been saying.
              Yoga weekly, and practicing at home too. Helps with isolating certain muscle groups and improving my posture and core. Plus, i feel better after riding!
              I know there are a million other things I could be doing in addition.... :-)

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              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by snaffle635 View Post
                I'm also 49 and am trying to make October "no stirrups month". I pulled the stirrups off my saddle Tuesday and am planning it again today. We will see how it goes! I may chicken out as the month goes on.
                You're a tough lady!!! I wish you well. I'm still going to use the "ease into it slowly" method. Keep us posted! You'll have legs of steel!!!


                Thanks everyone for your responses so far and for those yet to come. It is interesting to read what folks are doing! The other thing I am doing is taking regular lessons with the wonderful trainer that I started with last April. We have improved exponentially since then!!! But still have a long row to hoe.

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                • #9
                  I've lost weight and I try to ride without stirrups every ride. I'm also aiming to ride 4-5 days a week, which is going to be more difficult going into the winter.

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                  • #10
                    Lots of admiration for those of you who ride without stirrups. I'm 60 and have decided not to fall off, if possible! Every time I ride I do a quantity of posting down, up, up. I can pretty much do this indefinitely now without losing breath or balance. It has improved my leg tremendously, and I do have my stirrups in the event of a sudden spook.
                    Mon Ogon (Mo) and Those Wer the Days (Derby)

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                    • #11
                      Yoga and pilates! A lot of my position issues on the flat (dressage-I'm an eventer) are due to my own crookedness/bad posture.

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                      • #12
                        I try to get on atleast 3 a day. I will say I have gotten lax in my no stirrup work (used to have 2 lessons a week that was 45 min of intense flatwork without stirrups).
                        EdgeBrook

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                        • #13
                          Karosel, isn't that funny how it works?? Once I realized what what my trainer was saying, that my collapsing shoulder was interfering with the horse's inside shoulder, it was much more incentive to get stronger, so that i could maintain that symmetry and lift through my own upper body. The horses don't lie....

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by bits619 View Post
                            Karosel, isn't that funny how it works?? Once I realized what what my trainer was saying, that my collapsing shoulder was interfering with the horse's inside shoulder, it was much more incentive to get stronger, so that i could maintain that symmetry and lift through my own upper body. The horses don't lie....

                            Yes! It's incredibly hard to straighten a horse when your own body is a pretzel! If I can't even stand up with out slouching and being crooked how can I possibly expect to ride with good straight posture? <sigh> being a tall female has its downside

                            Speaking of which, I'm going to pop in a Rodney Yee dvd and do an hour of power yoga. Better practise what I preach

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                            • #15
                              Weightlifting 2x a week! I've avoided weightlifting for who knows how long but started in July and I am loving every minute of it, and it helps with so much. A lot of the same principles apply (no knees overshooting your toes, flat back, relaxed hip, weight in the heels) and you don't actually get bigger, I've gone down a size in breeches.
                              If only horses would use their athletic powers for good instead of evil. ~ MHM

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                              • #16
                                I ride at least once a week bareback or no stirrups (I only ride 3 times a week).

                                Tomorrow I'm going to start running again. It's finally "cooling off" here I'm SoCal so I don't have any excuses anymore.

                                I've also started being a working student at the barn once a week. It's a new barn for me and the trainer grew up English but now rides almost entirely western. It's great because I get the exposure to a different discipline, I usually ride 2-3 horses that day that I wouldn't normally ride and challenge me a lot, and I learn a lot from just being around the barn (handling training issues, maintenance of horses, listening to the vet when he's out...)

                                What I should do: stop slacking about my weight lifting class twice a week.

                                Go to the chiropractor then get to yoga twice a week to stay even! (I'm so crooked right now it's clearly affecting my riding.)
                                Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique

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                                • #17
                                  30 min of cardio 4 times a week then weights for 20 min after. It has worked wonders for me over the past few weeks! I have been getting so much more out of lessons because I am stronger and more fit.
                                  Southern Cross Guest Ranch
                                  An All Inclusive Guest Ranch Vacation - Georgia

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                                  • #18
                                    I moved my horse to my trainer's barn without any sort of arena. In just a week it has been so beneficial for my horse and for me. He's doing lots of hill work and is no longer sucking back or being resistant every single ride like he was at my old barn. (Old barn had a smaller indoor and an outdoor, but the only decent footing was the indoor unless it happened to rain and we haven't gotten a lot of that this year.) As a result, I'm learning how to ride him differently (more like a "normal horse"!) since I no longer have to worry about pushing him forward as he is now light and forward all on his own. He's also no longer spooky and even though I wear them, I've had no reason to use spurs on him in over a week. It has been the best medicine for both of us.
                                    "I was not expecting the park rangers to lead the resistance, none of the dystopian novels I read prepared me for this but cool."

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                                    • #19
                                      Things I am currently doing:

                                      1. Keep a riding journal. I log all of my rides in a journal with a few brief notes- how the horse felt, what issues came up, things that need more work, etc. This has helped quite a bit with riding and showing multiple horses (I normally ride anywhere from 4-6 horses at a time). It allows me to go back and review what I need to work on with each individual horse rather than rely on my memory.

                                      2. Show in dressage. Riding in a separate, but very related discipline has been good for my flat work. It has helped me lengthen my leg and develop my seat. It also forces me to be very accurate and has been good mileage for my horses. It's also nice to have the tests to look over for review.

                                      3. Video/photograph myself riding and showing. Obviously I can spot position flaws in myself much better this way. It is a double edged sword though. Often the horse looks much better than it felt while I look much worse than it felt!

                                      4. I have been trying to make my training rides more "intentional" meaning that I don't just go through the motions (especially with my warm up). I ride with more of a purpose, trying to create more quality and consistency. I also have been challenging my horses with new exercises and harder flatwork.

                                      Things I need/want to do:
                                      1. Work more without my stirrups. There is just no reason why I shouldn't!

                                      2. Exercise more off the horse. I am young and thin but I know I need to get into the habit of staying fit NOW before I get old and fat!

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                                      • #20
                                        Here are some things I started doing recently:

                                        1) lots of 2-point at a canter and hand gallop. Take one foot out of the stirrup and hold one hand out to the side with other hand bridging the reins. Alternate which foot is in/out of the stirrup and which hand is holding the reins.

                                        2) Go Fox Hunting. Learn to ride over varied terrain at whatever pace is dictated by the group.

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