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Improved poll for sitting position
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I would like to sit on my horse in position
   
   
   
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David Genadek
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 Posted: Sun Jun 1st, 2008 02:52 pm
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miriam wrote: Back to position;
Intellectually I know that there is closeness with or without the saddle. Here's a situation that is very marvelous for me; I tie the mecate around my waist, ride the bike to the horse, drop the bike, put the rope on him, get him ok, find a rock to get on and go awhile. And we don't go so far but we will go 'around the block'. And the 35lb saddle and blanket are a long ways away. I believe there is nothing else like bb, nothing to compare to the sensation, and I just feel closer to God. My horse doesn’t bend as easily with the saddle on so that’s a topic I’ll have to take up with you Dave. When in the saddle, I’d like to be sitting in the bb position. Can you come to Harry’s clinic in Eagle Lake this summer for a saddle fitting, and to design a proper one for my pony?? If not, then I’ll have to follow your measurement guide on the ATH website.
Miriam,
   I doubt I will be able to make it up to Harry’s clinic, Liz will be in Canada so I will be on animal duty.   I could try but I couldn’t promise.
 It is pretty hard to get someone in the Bareback position you can get close but the thicknesses of the saddle will put you a bit further back .
    Now let me share a recent observation since you mentioned a bike and Deb mentioned a car. One of the things that seems to confuse people about straightness is the word ride. We ride a bike and when we do we lean it to make it go in a direction .  We drive a car and to get it to go in a direction we steer it. A horse is more like a car but people like to ride them like a bicycle which makes them go crooked.
David Genadek

David Genadek
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 Posted: Sun Jun 1st, 2008 03:08 pm
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In our barn their hangs a quote from Liz it says: "True horsemanship is a place of being before a means of doing."
  Some might question what this has to do with where to sit or how a saddle fits.    What I have come to know is that it has everything to do with it. If you put the means of doing before the place of being the horse will often be crooked then you will look for a means of doing to correct the problem, like shimming uneven or getting a bigger bit. That misses the fundamental issue. In the end the first step to training any horse is to find that place of being. No trainer can do that for you. 
David Genadek

Leah
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 Posted: Mon Jun 2nd, 2008 01:22 am
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David-Can I steal your last post as a quote? I like it.

Last edited on Mon Jun 2nd, 2008 01:22 am by Leah

David Genadek
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 Posted: Tue Jun 3rd, 2008 12:50 am
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Leah,
    You would be welcome to use it as a quote but you need to attribute it to Elizabeth Graves and not myself. However, I can attest to the power of the concept.
David Genadek

miriam
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 Posted: Fri Jun 13th, 2008 09:59 pm
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About biking vs horseback riding; yah there are big differences, and some likenesses too. Both are about the rider's ability, require the rider to be balanced, and alert. My situation is that the saddle is kept back at the house (half mile away) so must be driven to the horse. The bike deal works nice for little jaunts here and there.

Saddles will always at the least, raise us up higher than sitting bb. And I will take the food for thought and chew on it, and won't plead or gripe - just gnaw away! I really do like the idea that the relationship with the horse is primary - and with that in a good place, that all else will fall into place. This makes things quite a bit easier really, a 'can do' without any fancy stuff.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Jun 14th, 2008 06:43 pm
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Yes, Miriam. And continue to bear in mind that unless you use a saddle, you will never learn to use a saddle. Unless you use stirrups, you will never learn to use stirrups.

"Feel", as I have been indicating to you in the other thread, is not to be taken literally. When we speak of "feeling" the horse's back, we do not mean that you should be having skin-sensations in your butt.

"Feel" is the flow of the life in the body. I have said again and again in this Forum: you need to feel of your horse, feel to your horse, and let the horse feel back to you. Your feel is your Inner Body. Your horse's feel is his Inner Body. It is up to you to figure out how to open yourself so that your horse's Inner Body can touch your Inner Body, and how you can gain the skill and self-awareness so that your Inner Body can reach through both your skins to make contact with the horse's Inner Body.

If you have not done so, then besides Joseph Campbell then you need to read Eckhart Tolle, preferably starting with "The Power of Now." That will then be the end of this kind of question. -- Dr. Deb

jlreyes
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 Posted: Thu Jun 26th, 2008 05:27 pm
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I'm still obsessing about where I sit versus where the saddle should sit: With new awareness from this discussion,  I realize I tend to be a B person (bareback and in an AP English saddle) and I'm not sure I understand what the A people are really seeing/feeling when they are in motion.

Furthermore, there are similarities between riding a bicycle and riding a horse. When I'm riding my road bike: (1) Being passed by my friends makes me kind of grumpy; (2) When my friends are too far away I want to rush and catch up to them; (3) When my friends are too close to me I want them out of my space; (4) I rush when we turn towards home; (5) Puddles are scary - wet tires are slick tires; (6) I'm not too thrilled about bridges; (7) When someone is in front of me, I want to catch him/her; (8) I LOVE running down hills; (9) I try to rush up hills to get them over with; (10) I'm not thrilled about dogs; and (11) Cans/garbage in the road might kill me.

Ask my how much more empathy I have for my darling boy when we're trail riding now - All of the problems I thought were his are REALLY MINE!!!

Humbly, Jennifer

Last edited on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 10:11 pm by jlreyes

miriam
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 Posted: Thu Jun 26th, 2008 09:37 pm
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Aren't I too far back in this position? And, as David has noted, isn't he putting his wt forward b/c of it?

PS: How can I post an avatar?

Attachment: buckskin.jpg (Downloaded 564 times)

Last edited on Thu Jun 26th, 2008 09:53 pm by miriam

David Genadek
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 Posted: Fri Jun 27th, 2008 01:17 am
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   The purpose of this was to let give everyone an idea that what the saddle industry is shooting for is to center the saddle on T14 when you combine that with how they tell you to place the saddle  it will have you weighting the lumbar span on many horses but not all (look back at the measurements I posted earlier in the thread).  I’m saying the industry should use T14 as the backward limit of the seat which means the saddles have to be shaped very different than what they are. The fronts have to be opened up like a big funnel and the riggings have to be designed to pull the center of the saddle down.  My rational for this can be found in the back issue of Inner Horseman Year 2002: Theme -- "Saddle fit, design, and function."  Really most of  this is just intellectual masturbation for saddle makers and equipment designers and although it should be of interest to the rider so they can understand what they are being sold in the end it boils down to you feeling your horse.   Nothing can answer your question about where to sit better than sitting on the horse bareback in various positions.  Where you have the best feel is where you want to sit.  I have found people doing this can prove the anatomical realities that Deb outlines in the Inner horseman very quickly.
Miriam, I would place the saddle a bit further forward but more importantly I would work on getting your pelvis level as that will change your position a lot.  Here is a link http://elizabethgraves.blogspot.com/2008/06/refining-those-skills-challenging-our.html      to Liz’s blog on a section that has some great shots of saddle position. You will see a Haflinger with a dressage saddle on it. We ordered the saddle the way we wanted it and it fits great but The manufacturers rep thought we were crazy.  You can also go look at Harry’s site and watch what he does at the clinic. But most importantly learn to feel it.
Jennifer,The bike anology is just about steering the horse and just away to think about it. I do think your observations on the emotional side of things is of really great value!
   For those of you who have been participating in the threads about using running martingales side reins ect.  Go to the above link and look at the photo where Liz has the horse doing a shoulder in with no reins just her leg and a touch of her finger on the neck.  I see a lot of horses  with saddle fit trouble because the trainer thinks they need these devices.  Side reins ok if used right but from what I have seen not needed if one knows what they are doing.  Running Martingales –why? Unless you want to keep equine chiropractors busy. You can see all the effects in the back, these miss used training techniques  create  a large percentage of the saddle fitting problems.
David Genadek

miriam
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 Posted: Fri Jun 27th, 2008 06:46 pm
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Hi Dave,

I can't look at your link from my work computer but will check it out later.

About the saddle, due to the horse's shape, it just always slips back to where it is in the pic. Should I use the breast collar to keep it more forward? I'm quite a bit more forward at BB. I had Harry check it for fit and he thought it seemed to be close enough - could be better due to pony's specific shape, but the boy didn't seem to be sore from it after a rather long arena workout.

When you mention leveling the pelvis, are you referring to R to L or front to back? What are you seeing in the pic? I was told that I collapse to the left and go fetal (news to me!). With this in mind I've worked on postural changes. What else can you suggest?

I know I need him fitted for a new saddle but thought I'd wait until he was a bit older (which is likely now as he'll be six later this yr). But his general body shape will always be such as it is - even with better riding - but I can help (so sayeth HW).

Thanks, Miriam

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Jun 28th, 2008 06:07 am
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Miriam -- Good, I am glad to see you're practicing in a saddle. This is the only way to learn how to ride in a saddle.

Anyone who has spent a lot of time riding bareback will find a difficulty in using the stirrups when they return to using a saddle. This is another main reason why riding bareback should be discouraged. You need your stirrups as you develop your seat, for a very important reason: stirrups act like "training wheels". They allow you to lose your balance more or less without severe penalty (such as falling off).

Yes: I know: we hear all the time, especially from the U.K., the story that goes "my father wouldn't permit me to use a saddle until I could jump well and ride under all other circumstances without one." However, I need you to THINK what this really means. First, WHEN was this the way? In the Edwardian and Victorian eras. WHAT was considered to be the ideal riding style in that century? It was "grip with your knees". Jumping was not understood; Caprilli hadn't come along yet; military officers and cross-country riders on foxhunts, as well as steeplechase jockeys, sat in the "back seat". Riding in collection was not practiced by the majority of military officers; the old 17th and 18th-century High School practiced by Reis d'Eisenberg, Gueriniere, and others was considered arcane and antique, totally out of fashion.

"Grip with your knees" is exactly what you will develop in yourself if you ride bareback BEFORE you have learned how to function correctly in a saddle, using the stirrups. For a review of all the physiological evils of gripping with the knees (which means using the major adductor muscles of the legs), go to Knowledge Base in this website and click on "Who's Built Best to Ride". When David mentions "you need to get your pelvis level," this is one of the evils: gripping with the knees freezes the pelvis to the thigh, so that the pelvis cannot adjust or "settle" to where it should be. Only when the major adductors are not engaged can the pelvis freely rotate on the heads of the femurs.

So, Miriam, what we do with stirrups is we use 'em. This is not to say we stomp down in them. There should be no particular weight in your heels, no particular effort to either push the heels down or raise the toes. BUT the leg has a weight, quite a bit of weight, just on its own, and this weight (without adding anything to it) must be ALLOWED to FALL down into the stirrup. Remember the axiom: your legs should hang over the saddle like an old pair of chaps hanging over a nail.

The more you GRIP with the leg, the more trouble you'll have "holding" your stirrups, because GRIP makes your leg creep upward. So of course, if you've been doing a lot of bareback riding, you'll think you have to PUSH DOWN to make your feet stick in the stirrups. Don't push down.

Instead, begin by taking an internal survey of what your legs are doing. You need to be aware of what the muscle-groups in your legs are doing. Specifically:

1. Your buttocks should not be pinching. There should be absolutely NO effort in the buttocks. Your buttocks should be so loose that they feel like big flaps -- one flap on one side of the saddle, the other flap on the other side.

2. Your knee-bones should not "particularly" be in contact with the saddle. Depending on the person's individual shape, the shape of the horse, and the type of saddle, your knee bones may "happen" to be in contact with the fenders or saddle panels -- or not. You are to make NO effort to bring them into contact while riding on the flat (jumping downhill is another matter, but it is not the situation we're working with here). Making no "particular" effort to bring the knee-bones into contact will translate to UTTER RELAXATION of the major adductor muscles, which are the bands or masses of muscle on the inner aspect of the thighs. These are the muscles most prone to be sore after riding. They should never be sore -- it is undue effort -- GRIPPING -- that makes them sore.

3. You should be making no effort to stomp down in the stirrups. If you are, you will find that the quadriceps muscle mass, which lies along the top of your thigh, will be engaged. If you focus on your knee joint, you will find that it feels stiff. Your knee joint should feel totally at rest or at ease, and the quadriceps muscle should be so relaxed at all times that you can take a grip of it between thumb and forefinger and shake it like jelly. UTTER RELAXATION OF THE QUADRICEPS.

4. When you need to touch, bump, or kick your horse, you do that with the motion you would use to kick a soccer-ball, i.e. the same motion you would use to kick a ball off of the INSTEP of your foot, rather than the toe. This is an oblique forward-and-inward motion. A great old instructor once said to me, "you're trying to make the horse's hair stand up" -- excellent graphic way of putting it. When you make this motion, you are not gripping with the major adductors, but instead engaging the sartorius muscle, which is a minor adductor and the only adductor that, when engaged, does not freeze the pelvis down onto the top of the thighbones.

5. Once you've surveyed your legs, you should also survey your lower back. It goes without saying that there will be some tension there -- that's the case for every human being over the age of 10. BUT you can, by an act of will, turn some of that tension off. You can only do this if you first turn your butt muscles totally off. There is an upper band of butt muscles that goes horizontally at the level between the rounded part of your buttocks and your lower back -- be sure you talk to that band. Then breathe in, "aiming" your breath so that it feels like it's trying to come out your lower back. This will materially help you to relax the lower back muscles. As your lower back relaxes, it will flatten -- lose some of the lumbar curve.

6. As this happens, the crotch area of the pelvis will rise. The pelvis is a solid bone with no joints within it; therefore, if the lower back relaxes, and the lumbar curve flattens, this pushes the tailbone and the rear aspect of the pelvis down. When the rear aspect of the pelvis goes down, the front aspect of it must rise. You can aid this to some extent WHEN OFF THE HORSE ONLY by doing sit-ups, Pilates, etc. that work the abs, but you are to make NO SPECIAL EFFORT to raise the crotch when actually on the horse. When you are on the horse, it is important rather to have everything "fall" into place -- you develop your improved posture off the horse, then you bring that to him when you mount, and it WILL fall into place.

7. Spread your legs. I am telling you this particularly, Miriam, based on the photo you supply above, but it's also a very common bit of advice I give to clinic participants worldwide. You are to figure out how to sit LESS on your thighs, especially on the backs of your thighs, and MORE directly down on the part of your body that is between your legs. To be explicit, I mean where the Kotex goes. This is an area that is, in total, about 2 to 3 inches wide and up to around 10 inches long. First, you have to permit the saddle to go all the way up into this space, so that there isn't a millimeter of space between the saddle and you. To permit this, you must spread your legs -- the TOP of your legs -- wide enough apart from side to side. This, more than anything else, is what puts one of your legs on one side of the saddle, the other leg on the other side of the saddle, ditto your buttocks -- like that old pair of chaps.

8. As to the 10" of length from the crotch to the anus, within that length you need to find where you sit to be best balanced and, more importantly, most able to maintain maximum relaxation of your back when the horse is moving at a trot or canter. This is another aspect of "levelling your pelvis". If you sit too far to the front, your legs will be too straight, like a clothespin, and your back will hollow -- the result of the pelvis being tilted down in front. If you sit too far back -- and let me add that it is a VERY rare woman who does this, because our anatomy generally does not permit it -- but if you could sit too far back, your back would become too rounded -- the result of the pelvis being too much tilted down in the rear (this IS possible for most men, who need the opposite advice of most women. Women generally need to RAISE the crotch, men generally need to be told to LOWER it).

Somewhere between too far to the front and too far to the back lies the ideal spot for you, Miriam. But remember -- before you go looking for the front-back position, FIRST you have to open the tops of your legs. I speak of the space between the tops of the legs as the "cathedral ceiling" -- you want the saddle to completely fill this space, so that you feel pressure on the lips of your vulva (not to mention on your seatbones, the most prominent parts of which flank the vulva).

The more you can UTTERLY RELAX all the major muscles of your legs, the easier it will be for you to open the cathedral ceiling.

Once you get the hang of this, then you will begin to feel your stirrups properly. The stirrups teach you balance and confidence WITHOUT gripping. Once a student can ride on the flat in a saddle, using stirrups, without gripping at all, then I will consider taking away one stirrup at a time, and then finally both stirrups, while I longe the student. The objective of this course of education is to produce a rider who can ride bareback, or over a jump, or sit to the trot, with beautiful leg position, a perfect seat, and no gripping at all. Only when there is no gripping can there be refinement of the leg aids -- only when the horse stops having to "ignore" the excessively muscular use of the legs will he then tune in to subtle signals coming from the legs.

Only when the student has developed perfect balance from learning to ride without gripping, can she begin offering subtle signals of any kind.

This is what Harry is telling you, Miriam -- yes, you, and yes, anybody who is willing to work on it in the right way can achieve the kind of seat that makes life a joy for the horse.

And, one last note: when you learn to open up the tops of your legs more and let the horse in there, you will find that you suddenly, and almost automatically, are able to sit "off the cantle", over the proper vertebrae, in your saddle. David is dead right about what's needed as to tree re-design: the front end does need to be opened and made more funnel-shaped, so that the whole saddle -- and with it the seat -- can come forward a vertebra or two. Nevertheless, I am telling you that you will be able to help your horse a good deal even before David's ideals are fulfilled, by simply learning not to sit on the backs of your thighs. -- Dr. Deb

kindredspirit
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 Posted: Sat Jun 28th, 2008 01:03 pm
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Awesome Dr. Deb!

I find this post to Miriam very helpful and timely for me.  I have had good instruction on the proper seat (ie relaxed) and it has helped me and my horse enormously.  Having you point out the specific muscles groups is a great visual for me.  I looked via GOOGLE each muscle that you mentioned.

I am headed out to ride and see what my body reveals to me!

Thanks again for all the details!


Kathy Baker

"If the rider is not in harmony with the nature of the animal, then it will perform as a burden with no display of pleasure."  Xenophon
  

Last edited on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 05:32 pm by DrDeb

Pam
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 Posted: Sat Jun 28th, 2008 05:45 pm
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This is the best description I've heard on how to sit properly. 

There was another thread recently where it was mentioned that one should position their legs as though they are playing soccer - I find that visual works very well for me.  It keeps me from gripping with my knees.  It probably wouldn't hurt to play some soccer to get the correct tone for riding.  Another thing that helps me with position, but is a by-product of teaching the horse to be more in front of my leg (mentioned by Dr. Deb in a recent thread), is when I take my legs completely off my horse to give him a big wallop when he isn't listening to me.  This puts me in the perfect position, with no grip what so ever and I find I am quite comfortable right now with my legs off my horse as much as possible. He is very happy with this as well and that just tells me how much I probably grip with my legs normally.  Now, if I was riding bareback I would never take my legs off my horse like that, I need the security of the stirrups right now.  Falling off my horse is not something I need in my riding career, besides, my horse won't let me get on him bareback.  He is smarter than I am at times...Thank God!

Thanks.....Pam

Last edited on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 05:48 pm by Pam

kindredspirit
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 Posted: Sat Jun 28th, 2008 05:53 pm
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Pam,

Dr. Deb's description offered me some good pointers when I went out to ride.  The feathering the hair on the horse's side was a big plus in keeping me relaxed and not bracing and my horse's lateral work was very much improved as a result.  One interesting side note in all my experimentation was I consistently started out on the wrong diagonal during the rising trot, which is not something I generally have problems with. Maybe I was putting too much focus elsewhere and lost a bit of feel.  Not sure but will pay attention during the next ride.  I had a great ride with these pointers at the forefront, well at least I thought so, and I think my horse thought so as well, and I guess that is all that counts!

Thanks again,

Kathy  

 

cyndy
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 Posted: Sat Jun 28th, 2008 08:16 pm
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Wow, Dr Deb! That was a very detailed lesson! I tried it today. Each horse had a little different "feel" to it (wider back, taller, bigger mover, wider barrel, etc) I knew I had a slight twist in my back. I have been reviewing Mary Wanless's books and DVDs, plus Sally Swift's "Centered Riding" ( Both good info). But, I still couldn't quite put my finger on what I was doing wrong. I experimented around riding three horses,- one horse was much easier to get things right, one horse's crookedness was making things worst for me (may have been who put that twist in me in the beginning!), another horse was way too wide to "hang down like a pair of chaps". I finally worked it out just right! Of course, "right" is going to take some new muscle memory, and keeping relaxed during that will be a challenge!


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