Let’s dissect my position…

I have some still pictures from my second ride at my new barn. I have a post planned about my first ride, but wanted to get these up and hopefully get some feedback. Riding instructors, trainers, people who ride better than me… please tell me what I’m doing right and what I can do to improve!

Picture # 1

Picture # 1 – This is probably the best one. My heel is down, my elbows are bent, my back is straight and I’m looking ahead. I’m also on the correct diagonal. But look at Baron’s head! He is doing his giraffe impression! To be fair, he was riding in new surroundings and was very “looky,” but still, I would like to ride well enough to get him to round up under me and drop his head. HOW DO I DO THAT????? Feel free to give me some pointers! Everything I’ve read about dressage says that correct riding produces a round, relaxed horse. Is this something that will come with time and practice, or is there some secret formula I’m missing that would help him drop his head?

Picture # 2


Picture # 2- I think my position here is decent, but I’m on the wrong diagonal! Aaaaaaargh! I do have the straight line from elbow to bit; I concentrated on keeping my elbows bent during this ride. But look at my saddle… I think it’s too small. When I post, my backside is hitting the cantle quite uncomfortably. It’s a 16 inch saddle and I think I need a 17 or 17.5 inch. Or maybe there’s nothing wrong with my saddle and the problem is my position? What do you think???

Picture # 3

Picture #3- In this one Baron has started to relax. He’s stretching down and rounding up under me. My arms are straight, but I’m pretty sure I was consciously letting him have extra rein to stretch down. But, I’m on the wrong diagonal again. Ugh.

Picture # 4

This picture is clearly not Baron, but this is what we’re aiming for! Look at that gorgeous topline!

Here’s the video that these pictures were taken from.

Again, feel free to give me some tips to improve my riding. I appreciate having online horse friends to help me out!


8 thoughts on “Let’s dissect my position…

  1. Jenn January 18, 2011 / 4:10 pm

    The reason your butt is hitting the cantle is because you’ve adopted the “chair seat” position. A chair seat position often leaves the rider behind the motion of the horse. Drop your stirrups a hole and work on bringing your legs UNDER you, instead of out in front of you. Think of dropping a line from your shoulder to the ground…your shoulder, hips and ankles should all fall on that line. If you are comfortable enough to do so, try starting your rides without stirrups.

    In a correct, balanced position, the horse could be suddenly yanked out from beneath you and you’d land balanced on your feet in the dirt. Right now, if someone yanked Baron out from under you, you’d land on your butt. 🙂

    Good luck! Once you are moving WITH Baron instead of behind him, all will start to come together, harmoniously!

  2. trainingbaron January 18, 2011 / 5:44 pm

    That is very helpful. I’ve gotten conflicting advice on how long to have my stirrups. You’re right about raising them one hole because I wasn’t hitting the cantle until I raised them. I think having a longer leg will put my butt more in the center of the saddle. Thanks!!!

  3. Rebecca January 19, 2011 / 9:38 pm

    I agree with the first poster, try lowering your stirrups. My OTTB does the giraffe impression also, I would really love to know what the secret is to fixing that as well!

    Oh, and if you were to watch one of my lessons, all you hear for at least the first 1/4 of it is my trainer yelling out, Wrong Diagonal! 😛

  4. Debi January 21, 2011 / 2:02 am

    Hi there…would all my students were as dedicated as you! I watched the video through twice by the way, there is lovely synergy between you two! There is much correct, and with the previous posters suggestion you will do well. Now…have you tried to breathe with him? From my way and far away vantage point you appear to be holding your breath and waiting to mess up so you can come down on yourself. Ease up and soften yourself. Wiggle your lower jaw, it sounds funny but if your lower jaw is relaxed your pelvic floor and adjoining bits will also relax, and from that we build a deep secure seat.Another hint…ride with only your bones! Taking your muscles out of the equation helps align your skeleton..and guess what? The muscles come along for the ride!! Baron is a happy horse, see how his tail swings? When you ride a sitting trot, open your hips, do you feel tense through your upper thighs when sitting, that will tighten you and make you bounce. Opening your hips will also let your knees touch the saddle, right now there is a tiny gap between your knee and the flap. That gap means your lower leg grips and prevents you from having a deep seat. Regarding your diagonals, try sitting the first three to four strides to determine your rhythm and then start posting. Also practice feeling for his hind legs in the air…when his right hind is up, your right hip will be down. Use that to find your diagonal. Feel your ourside hip…it will drop and then be pushed up and drop and be pushed up…When your outside hip is pushed up…rise. Scary easy. Sorry about turning this into a mini lesson. It is -40 here, and I just came in to thaw after hauling warm water for all the school horses and feeding warm suppers.Questions? Just ask.

  5. Marissa January 21, 2011 / 4:01 pm

    There is an award waiting for you on my blog!

  6. Steph January 22, 2011 / 6:02 am

    I totally hear you on the wrong diagonal bit! I couldn’t get them for the longest time, but at least I think I have learned to reliably tell with my horse (finally).

    As for how to get his head down… I can’t really help you there. I can get my OTTB to lower his head, but then he leans on the bit and pulls me forward which isn’t good either. FWIW, it seems like you are a little tense in the video at the start, and then later you are relaxed and his head is lower.

  7. Jenn January 25, 2011 / 7:31 pm

    “Another hint…ride with only your bones! Taking your muscles out of the equation helps align your skeleton..and guess what? The muscles come along for the ride!!”

    It’s been a long time since I’ve heard this advice and it is SPOT ON! Imagery is a great way to learn to ride in balance, and this is one of the most helpful images (at least for me.) Thank you for the reminder!

    As for getting ole Baron’s head down….forget about his head. Seriously. Ignore his head. His head is UP because his back is tense and hollow and he’s not pushing through with his hind end. Why is his back tense? Likely because you’re not riding balanced, relaxed and in harmony with him…yet. 🙂 Fix that and the head will follow. If you try to force his head into a fixed position you’ll still have the root of the problem: He’s not through, round or balanced. And eventually, he’ll be sore, sour and unhappy if you just worry about the head instead of his whole body. He’ll get there. Give him, and yourself, time.

    I know it’s hard to ignore the head because it’s right there in front of you and it’s difficult to ignore that giraffe bobbing out in front of you, but work on riding him back to front instead of worrying about his front and it will all fall into place: naturally, beautifully and harmoniously.

  8. Amy January 26, 2011 / 11:06 pm

    Looks like you two are having fun and that is the most important thing. I love Baron’s white socks. I would say starting my OTTB I had a very similar position. I did have to take many lessons to help sort it all out but the #1 thing that helped me start to ride better all around and I could notice a difference in Steady was getting my feet back. Once I got my feet back I finally started to get balanced. It is a hard thing to change because I was used to that feeling. A trainer finally had to tie my stirrups to my girth and it finally sunk in. She told me I probably started it because I was balancing against his mouth. Pulling back and pushing my feet forward. hth

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