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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

May 3, 2009

Added five more minutes of trotting =Trotting total 10 minutes

I'm trying to sort out how to get that nice easy trot that I know she is capable of vs. the "frenzied" trot that she does. We had about 10% of the good trot today from our ten minute trotting session. Yesterday it was 0%, so at least a slightly better outcome. I'm really boiling down to it being ME. Either my posting is all wrong, or my body position, or something. I think I tend to lean forward, which in body language urges her onward, faster, faster, then breaking into the canter. I also feel like there is too much motion in my attempt to post. I've seen those who do it right and it loos effortless. I'm expending a lot of energy trying to do it, which makes me pretty darn certain that I'm doing it all wrong. Doug says I'm getting my upper body into it, eventually leaning more and more forward until after a few strides I start losing my balance point, and wanting to tip. The only time I feel effortless and reasonably balanced when on a slight uphill grade. Which forces my balance point back, right?



  1. Well, I would suggest riding without stirrups. A lot.

    Was forced to try it at horsecamp several years back for 4H, and found muscles I didn't even know I was supposed to be using. Had to spend enough time riding w/out stirrups (and this was English riding, so we had to post) that I got very sore, but that meant I was doing something wrong before.

    At first you won't believe you even *can* post w/out stirrups, and you certainly can't post any higher than the horse's movement pushes you, but really that's all the higher you "ought" to post anyway.

    But, I was a much more confident and secure rider afterwards for doing it, even though I pretty much hated doing it at the time. So it's worth the effort. BUT, only try this when your horse is in a good mood!

    Also, do you have any way of taking video of you riding?? It's another helpful tool, you can actually see what you're doing, then change it, then keep re-taking video until you find yourself getting it right, and you know what "right" feels like.

    I almost hate writing these tips, because I have a TON of improvement I could be making by doing the exact things I am writing about! You'd think if I knew the answers, I'd be a more correct rider!! But, it takes more work to change the way you do things, so I really applaud you for working towards making it right!!


  2. Hi EG, I've been reading your last few posts with some interest. Over the past year I've developed similar riding habits, and have been working hard the past few months to correct them. I posted on my blog about a month ago about my frustrations and the exercises I've been doing to help. I found that I leaned forward from my pelvis, which inevitably pushed my leg out of position and I ended up without any balance. It became really hard to ride effectively, plus it was uncomfortable.

    I'd recommend a few things - the first being, as Nicole said, riding without stirrups. If you're uncomfortable doing this alone, have someone put you on a lunge line. Even if you're not trotting, you can still work out a lot of kinks. The best part of working on a lunge line (and if your horse isn't a dead-head on the lunge, perhaps you should find a local instructor to do lunge lessons with) is that it allows you to totally devote your brain to developing your seat. Make conscious efforts to grip through your thigh and rock back on your pelvis, and keep your shoulders back. At first, you'll feel very awkward - as if you're leaning too far back, but eventually you become accustomed to it.

    Another thing would be to invest in some good lessons to work with a trusted trainer (I prefer someone with a dressage background) to help you and Phebes understand what you're asking each other. Horses try to understand us, but sometimes we send very blurry signals - such as riding with an awkward seat that's ineffective. A good instructor/trainer will be able to teach you proper half halts and other exercises you can do to distract Phebes mind when she starts into that "gotta catch the other horse" mode.

    A good book I would recommend is Sally Swift's Centered Riding - I find her mental imaging a blessing to help understand what I'm trying to ask my horse. See if you can find a local clinic to go to. I'm going to my first Centered Riding clinic in June and couldn't be more excited.

    As far as groundwork goes, I would look into the TTouch method - they have some really interesting groundwork exercises in those books that could enhance your on-the-ground communication with Phebes. There is also a post on the Saddle Fitting blog that mentions some good books for ground work:

    I think that's all I wanted to say. I hope it helps some!

  3. I agree you should ride without stirrups. I rode bareback for years and still do every so often for remembrence, although the treeless saddles really help with that.

    But I think you shouldn't do it on Phebe, not the first few times anyway! It's not easy and it's not fair to her, she's young and just started undersaddle. Do it on an old school master horse. Just my warning. Not that I think she will buck you off, but that it could screw up her training for a while.

    This won't help at all, but some of us have an unfair advantge in riding because of the way we are built. I have NO weight in front of me (boobs), and the majority of my weight is in my legs, and I have long legs for my torso. When a person has a bigger top and shorter legs, they are automatically at a disadvantage in learning the correct seat. But it can be done, obviously! You just have to work even harder.

    Glad your finally getting to ride her some. Find a trainer who has a horse you can ride. That's my recommendation. Keep riding Phebe too. But do your practicing on the old schoolmaster until your trainer says you got it right!


  4. I'm sure without stirrups would help, but I have NOT been able to do that. I have one of those builds that Michelle was talking about (LONG torso and short little legs). It is hard. I do EXACTLY what you describe in your post, made worse by the fact I rode polo which is a very forward seat anyways. I've literally never had to sit down in the saddle.

    One thing that is helping me is lots and lots of arena work. The more trot/canter transitions, sitting trot, and circles I do, the easier it is the post. I went on my first trail ride on Saturday after 2 weeks of arena work and was ESTATIC at how easy posting seemed to be.

    Good luck!