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Leg position for western rider

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  • Leg position for western rider

    I ride English. I have been taught that when viewed from the side, your shoulders, hips, and heels should be in a straight line. If you look down and see your foot past your knee, your foot is too far forward. I just wondered what the deal is for someone riding western (basic trail riding). Also when going uphill, I always stand in the stirrups and lean forward to get off my horses back. But I have never seen any of my western riding friends do this. I greatly appreciate any enlightenment that might be provided. Thanks.

  • #2
    Basically the same and you should be able to just see the toe of your boot past your knee, and that is because western boots have longer toes to accomodate the point - as it was explained to me by an old cowboy: sit down, sit straight and sit still (insert expletives where you think appropriate) and you should be fine. The leg position does change once you start specialising and/or competing; you certainly won't be able to keep that position chasing cows at speed, cutting, gaming or some general ranch work. As to hills, define hill. Going up the little hills here:sit down, it doesnt matter type but south of here, you grab leather, stand and lean forward because they are steep and high, and some, well, you just don't try going up or down, you find a way around.
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    • #3
      I always lean forward and get up going uphill and back when going down. I've rode both English and western and show dressage now but I've always learned this in both. Also if it's just trail riding I say be comfortable. If you are on a 3 hr trail ride then sometimes it's hard to always stay in a perfect position. Just be comfortable and ride. Now western showing then there is more involved in leg positions.
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      • #4
        Originally posted by rabicon View Post
        I always lean forward and get up going uphill and back when going down. I've rode both English and western and show dressage now but I've always learned this in both. Also if it's just trail riding I say be comfortable. If you are on a 3 hr trail ride then sometimes it's hard to always stay in a perfect position. Just be comfortable and ride. Now western showing then there is more involved in leg positions.
        This. And different western saddle types will position you differently. For example, my barrel saddle puts my legs in a more forward position. Its near impossible to get the shoulder/hip/heel position in this saddle. I have a Dakota equitation show saddle that pretty much puts me right where I need to be for showing.
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        • #5
          Originally posted by rabicon View Post
          I always lean forward and get up going uphill and back when going down.
          It's more for the rider's safety than the comfort of the horse.

          I believe the basic leg position is similar. However, I've always ridden the inside branch of the stirrup when riding western and I ride the outside branch when riding english.
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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Thanks everyone, that's helpful. So in what forms of western riding would you have your feet more in front and what is the reasoning behind it?

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            • #7
              I'm also curious about western leg position. It seems that a lot of western riders sit on their tooshes and put their leg more forward. Is this correct?

              I was also always taught that if I can see my toe when I look down that my leg is too far forward. Is it normal in western that you can see the toe? I cant wrap my head around it!

              I recently went to a small rodeo and a lot of the girls on the drill team had an english type seat, and posted the whole time. This looks more comfortable for me, being used to english. Their leg looked to be in an english position as well.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by AliCat518 View Post
                I'm also curious about western leg position. It seems that a lot of western riders sit on their tooshes and put their leg more forward. Is this correct?

                I was also always taught that if I can see my toe when I look down that my leg is too far forward. Is it normal in western that you can see the toe? I cant wrap my head around it!
                .
                You don't, properly, sit on your pockets and shove your legs forward - not in a show ring, unless you are doing reining or cutting. Obviously, the proper position is also going out the window with cutting and speed events. Casual riding is a different thing entirely so it seems and anything goes. I learned differently, you sit down, sit straight and sit still, no weird moving around sloppily or legs and elbows flapping in time to gait.

                As to seeing toes, seated properly, one should be able to see the toes of the boots, the last inch or so depending on toe cap style - you will see more toe on a sharp point than on a rounded toe simply because the boots are different than the very round toe of English boots. If you cannot see an inch or so of boot in a western saddle, and are wearing cowboy boots, you got your feet too far back
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                • #9
                  Overall your position in the saddle will be much more like a saddle seat or dressage position than a hunt seat position. Actually in my experience I would say saddle seat and western trail or pleasure riding have to most similarities.

                  Compare/contrast

                  Western http://d387n7te6hkkmo.cloudfront.net...POSITION_2.jpg

                  Saddle Seat http://www.gaitedhorses.net/Articles...saddleseat.JPG

                  Dressage http://www.usef.org/images/contentim...ssageSeat2.JPG

                  Hunt Seat http://www.horsechannel.com/images/h...g-trot-255.jpg

                  I disagree with sk_pacer, if you are riding in a balanced saddle that is the correct size for you (not one that has the srirrups hung too far forward to you or too large of a seat for you, both of which would tend to put you in a chair seat) you should not be seeing your toe when you look down your knee.

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                  • #10
                    No see toe

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                    you should be able to rise in your stirrups from any gait w/o touching the saddle- trail riders get lazy and run their feet forward and slouch for any number of reasons- but riding is riding and you should be at the ready to rise and get off of the horse's back.

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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by katarine View Post
                      No see toe

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                      you should be able to rise in your stirrups from any gait w/o touching the saddle- trail riders get lazy and run their feet forward and slouch for any number of reasons- but riding is riding and you should be at the ready to rise and get off of the horse's back.
                      Nice picture. And I really like that you are wearing a helmet which I almost never see on any western riders in my neck of the woods. You are only issued one brain.

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                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Renae View Post
                        Overall your position in the saddle will be much more like a saddle seat or dressage position than a hunt seat position. Actually in my experience I would say saddle seat and western trail or pleasure riding have to most similarities.

                        Compare/contrast

                        Western http://d387n7te6hkkmo.cloudfront.net...POSITION_2.jpg

                        Saddle Seat http://www.gaitedhorses.net/Articles...saddleseat.JPG

                        Dressage http://www.usef.org/images/contentim...ssageSeat2.JPG

                        Hunt Seat http://www.horsechannel.com/images/h...g-trot-255.jpg

                        I disagree with sk_pacer, if you are riding in a balanced saddle that is the correct size for you (not one that has the srirrups hung too far forward to you or too large of a seat for you, both of which would tend to put you in a chair seat) you should not be seeing your toe when you look down your knee.
                        The western rider looks like he is actually pretty balanced. The saddle seat rider looks like she is in a chair seat. The dressage rider looks pretty balanced- they just ride with a long stirrup. The hunt seat picture does not look as balanced as would be ideal (to me). Another thing I was told is that if the horse suddenly vanished from under you and you are in a balanced position, you should land balanced on your feet. A lot of folks I see riding western (and these are just the casual trail riders)- look like if their horse suddenly vanished they would end up square on their butts. Wouldn't it be easier for the horse if the rider had a balanced position in cutting and reining? Just wondering.

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                        • #13
                          Many people that trail ride never take lessons or have anyone watch them ride. Part of the reason is they just want to ride and really and truley do not care about position. I also see it with people that trail ride in hunt seat saddles. They ride to relax, period!

                          Good position is good position but if you are just beebopping around it is easy to fall into a slouch which puts your feet forward.

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                          • #14
                            If you tried to maintain a balanced equitation position while cutting or reining you would probably fall off your horse. Just as you move into 2 point to go over a jump, you change your position when riding western when a horse does some of the extreme manuevers it can do.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by sk_pacer View Post
                              You don't, properly, sit on your pockets and shove your legs forward - not in a show ring, unless you are doing reining or cutting.
                              If you go to local shows, you'll see a lot of bad riders ride like this in the ring. It seems like a lot of beginning western riders (or perhaps riders who have not had formal instruction) brace themselves between the stirrups and the cantle of the saddle. The think they feel more secure, but they really aren't. And it looks horribly uncomfortable!

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Renae View Post
                                If you tried to maintain a balanced equitation position while cutting or reining you would probably fall off your horse. Just as you move into 2 point to go over a jump, you change your position when riding western when a horse does some of the extreme manuevers it can do.
                                This. I barrel race adn show western pleasure - the barrel racing puts my feet forward, and I find that I have a harder time getting my legs back where they need to be when I'm schooling in my equitation saddle and in the showring.
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