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Thread: Help! Non stirrup work!

  1. #1
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    Default Help! Non stirrup work!

    Really need some help with my non stirrup work! I seem to bounce around no matter how much I relax which in turn leads to my legs coming upwards no matter how much I try not to grip! they seem to do it without me wanting them to! I use my thighs and calves to help me stay on and try not to grip with the knee but my legs still slide upwards, usually my right one which causes me to nearly slip off all the time! I have weak legs and nerve damage anyway so find it hard to grip the horse. I cant seem to stay in the saddle as I am either slipping to one side or the other! This makes me nervous as I dont want to fall off so I end up grabbing mane or saddle! Its really annoying me that I cant seem to get this as I used to be more confident with it! Any help would be gratefully recieved!

  2. #2
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    Try not to use your legs to grip at all as that may be why your right one is coming up.

    To get the hang of it you need to be able to let go of the contact and just do a little steering if necessary.

    People may disagree but I think when you are beginning to find your seat in sitting trot you need to rock back on your seatbones and have your legs flopping loosely out in front , holding on to the back of the saddle can help.
    You have to try and feel the side to side movement of the horses back and let your seatbones rise and fall in synch. with that movement. Being on the back of the seatbones seems to help this and when you are secure in the rhythm you can come to a more upright position.
    Some people seem to be able to bypass this part and go straight on to the upright position .
    This may seem very unorthodox but do give it a try.

    It sounds to me that you are just suffering from a lack of confidence which is causing you to tense your stomach which seems to pull everything up.

    You have to start with very very short bouts of it as once you feel your balance going you will tense and stiffen and inevitably start to bounce off.

  3. #3
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    Relax, don't think about what your doing and ride like a sack of spuds :P

    Because you're worrying about it, you'll be subconciously tensing up with out meaning to, which is unbalencing you. Ramblings idea of holding the back of the saddle is a good one if theres anyway you can (private lunge lesson?)

  4. #4

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    Have you asked for lunge lessons and do non-stirrup work as this helped me with my leg position as you don't have to worry about having to control the speed of your horse at the same time. For non-stirrup work what I do is sit up tall and pull my stomach muscles in as this helps me a bit, but i'm the same as when going bit more to the left I feel as if I may fall off as my left side is my weaker side when I ride as I can't do anything about it lol!!

  5. #5
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    As rambling says, you shouldn't really be gripping at all with your legs - it is the stability of your seat and looseness of your legs that allows you to follow the movement of the horse.

    I have a vague memory that you said on another thread you have a bad problem with your ankle? I find that when my legs get tense - whether I've got stirrups or not - the tension actually originates in my ankles, not my leg muscles, and if I circle my ankles and flex my toes up and down to loosen my ankles up, the tension in my legs drains away too. Can you tell if your legs are getting tense from the top down, or the bottom up?

  6. #6
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    as the others have said it's all about relaxing, tensing up really starts you bouncing out of the seat which just makes you even more tense My RI has just started me doing work without stirrups, and suprisingly I'm finding it easier to sit than with them in canter. Granted it's only on the one horse so far, and he has high withers which forces me to sit on the back of the seatbones as mentioned by Rambling (or I get bashed *cough*). On others I know for sure I'd have a good chance of sliding off the side hehe

    As my RI keeps saying "smile and breathe, smile and breathe"!

  7. #7
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    You have to try and remain very soft through your boy and follow the movement. I have my lower leg against holly's side but I don't grip at all I find this helps to keep me straight and soft in the saddle... Holly and I were doing no stirrup work today including some medium trot... Thankfully Holly isn't very bouncy lol
    ...

  8. #8
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    Get yourself on the lunge - that way you dont need to worry about direction and can concentrate on yourself. I had to start no stirrup work with my boy this way because he is incredibly bouncy - I could walk trot and canter my last horse with no stirrups no probs - not so with Arion, hes made of rubber I swear it! lol

    While on the lunge with reins tied up, hold the front of the saddle and just concentrate on your legs, getting them as loose as possible - then you can start removing one hand, then eventually the other - when you can trot around in a sitting position with no reins and your arms out to your sides, sitting trot will be so easy

  9. #9
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    Agree about lunge lessons - but honestly - however hard this sounds - sitting trot with no stirrups is something you have to be taught how to do. There are very few people to who it comes naturally. But if you are well taught - stage by stage and understand the reasons for what you are doing, it will come easily.

    People used to be taught to grip with their legs. Do you know why that has stopped? It is because squeezing with your legs lifts you out of the saddle. And reduces your stability.
    It also obstructs the horse - all four legged animals swing their bodies from side to side as they walk - this allows the movement of their hind legs.

    You can stop a horse just by squeezing your legs under you - try it next lesson. Then relax your legs and allow the horse to walk forward.

    The purpose of doing stuff without stirrups is to put all your weight on your seat. Stop thinking about what you are doing or cant do with your legs. They are not important. What is important is to feel through your seat how the horses hind legs are moving.
    In walk, you should feel your hips sink down a little in turn, first one and then the other. Relax and count the steps and breathe deep and slow. Walk is a four beat gait - count the steps as your breathe slowly in and out.

    Once you can sit easy in walk and feel the horses hind legs working under you, you can try it in trot. Trot is a two beat gait, but the hind legs move exactly the same as ijn walk. It may feel like you are being bounced into the air. But that is not what is really happening. It is a first one side lift and then the other, just as it was in walk. You may need to trot slowly to feel it at first. Let your legs hang down, keep breathing, forget about your body position and concentrate on what the horse is doing and feeling the horse through your seat bones.
    This is sometimes easier with no stirrups than it is with stirrups - so dont give up hope.

    What is the point of doing this? First it will keep you safe in the saddle if you can sit deep and secure.
    Next, if you feel the hind leg movement through your seat, you can eventually guide the horse by slowing or quickening that movement.
    Or by cueing for canter or a turn at exactly the right moment when the horse's legs are in the best position.

    It takes a little time and practice but even when it becomes second nature to you and you dont need to think about it any more, it is important never to lose that sense of the horse moving under you -

  10. #10
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    Excellent answer as usual from Skib. You have put it very well However there is just one bit I have to disagree with -

    Quote Originally Posted by Skib View Post
    sitting trot with no stirrups is something you have to be taught how to do
    I learned to ride without being taught at all! Nobody ever taught me how to do sitting trot without stirrups. I don't really think it's something you need to be taught - relax your legs and sit up straight, and you've got it. The hard part is teaching yourself to relax your legs, but that comes with practise and confidence, not just instruction.

    Personally I think the best thing you can do to improve your seat is ride bareback. When you trot bareback, sitting to the trot is your immediate reaction, because it is so much more effort to rise to it (although rising trot bareback CAN be done, I wouldn't recommend it unless you are happy to lose the use of your legs for the rest of the day ) The benefit of trotting bareback is that when you get tense anywhere from the hips down, it bounces you off the horse's back and prevents you from following his movement - and if you are REALLY tense, it bounces you off the horse altogether

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