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 Rode english for first time yesterday.Help?lol
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Country Bumpkin
Advanced Rider



USA
168 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2006 :  2:12:48 PM  Show Profile  Visit Country Bumpkin's Homepage Send Country Bumpkin a Private Message
I borrowed my friends english saddle and yesterday I tried it out on Squeaker.I don't think she has ever been rode english before,but she did just fine.
I didn't have an english pad so I just used a fleece pony sized western pad and a thin navaho blanket. I placed the saddle where I thought it should be but it didn't look right at all. So my first question is this: should the front of the pommel be at the withers,or should it be back some??
And I tightened the girth as tight as I could but it was soo loose and when I got down it slipped over on her side,towards her belly but she didn't freak out.
My stirrups were really short and felt uncomfortable so I let them out and it still felt wrong. The stirrups were also uneven,even though I had them in the same hole number. How long should the stirrups be? I know(think) that your knees are supposed to be bent more than in a western saddle lol but my knees and ankles were hurting so bad. And I did trot for just a moment and it was so bouncy,not like when I'm bareback or western lol. I felt like I was leaning to one side the whole time because the saddle was loose lol.
All in all, I didn't like my first experience with riding english. So I need some pointers here because I know nothing about english riding lol.

EZ2SPOT
Clinician

USA
3785 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2006 :  7:41:33 PM  Show Profile  Visit EZ2SPOT's Homepage Send EZ2SPOT a Private Message
It has been quite a while since I've ridden English, and I'm sure someone who is more experienced will answer your questions! But one thing that seemed pretty obvious is that you probably had WAY too much padding under the saddle, which in turn caused it to roll.

Regarding the stirrups seeming like they were uneven, they probably were! The stirrup leather on the near (mounting) side tends to stretch with time. Some people change them around now and then to even out the stretch. YOu can also punch another hole in the leather, if necessary.

Third, I guess there is a good reason English riders post to the trot! It has always seemed easier to me to sit a trot in a western saddle, than in when riding English. The stirrups on an English saddle being shorter probably are a factor. Maybe you could lengthen the stirrups a bit until you are more used to having them shorter?

EZ2SPOT
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OnTheWay
Clinician

1433 Posts

Posted - 01/31/2006 :  01:28:02 AM  Show Profile Send OnTheWay a Private Message
Well, I'm sure no expert either. However, since I just went through looking at/inquiring about/buying an English saddle, here's my understanding to pass on, assuming I got it right. There are different kinds of English saddles, the most common being Dressage, All Purpose and Close Contact. Dressage saddles have longer, straighter "fenders" (leather piece under stirrup leathers and I think they're called something else). With the design of the dressage saddle, your stirrups are longer, and I seem to think they're about as long as they are with a western saddle (anyone please correct or refine this if I have it not quite right). Then All Purpose design is a wider, more forward cut fender and Close Contact (for jumping) is even more so. The stirrups go shorter with each type in the order written, because the fenders are shorter (and more forward) with each type.

All that said, I don't see any reason why you'd have to ride any differently or lengthen/shorten your stirrups to anything different than you'd have with Western. I bought an English A/P saddle, and it doesn't matter to me where the stirrups "commonly" go, I put them at whatever length is comfortable to me.

However, the rule of thumb I was told is... let your feet dangle out of the stirrups. The stirrup floor should come to where your ankle bone is. Adjust it to there and that's supposed to be where you ride with it. Not sure if this is for A/P or Dressage, I do recall that Close Contact is used for jumping, and the stirrups need to be a lot shorter for jumping. I adjusted mine so they're comfortable.

As for the saddle slipping, hey I found myself not feeling as secure with my English saddle as well! First, I started with a girth that has elastic on each side. A lot of them do. Well, I never knew how tight to cinch it. Seemed tight enough, but I still didn't think it was and I found it really hard to evaluate because of the elastic. Then I switched to a Wintec girth (supposedly has some stretch but doesn't have the exposed elastic straps up to the buckles, and in fact, I don't think it has much stretch). That was better, but still there was something I didn't like. Then I realized that an English saddle doesn't hug over the horse's back like a western one. By comparison, they just sort of "perch" on top.

So I get the feeling they're just not as secure or as definite of a "molded fit" as you may be used to. That bothers me about mine.

If I get used to this English saddle, I'll look pretty funny also. Western boots, jeans, red clunky jacket, Dakota Troxel helmet with visor and... English saddle??? Hey, I don't care. I bought the thing specifically to have less "stuff" between me and horse and more leg contact. I don't mind hybrid-ing my gear. Whatever works that gives you the amount and type of contact you want -- offset by the amount of "surround-security" you want to feel in the saddle itself.

Though no expert, since I just went through all the question/answer stuff on english saddles, I figured something in what I was told may be of some help. What kind of English saddle did you get?
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Red Hawk
Clinician



USA
5092 Posts

Posted - 01/31/2006 :  10:58:25 AM  Show Profile Send Red Hawk a Private Message
The AP that OTW is discribing is what is commonly called a hunt seat saddle. I have one, myself, and have ridden basically "on-the-flat" for many years in English pleasure and hunt seat pleasure classes.

I agree with EZ that you probably had way too much padding under your saddle. Most English pads are fairly thin, though there are exceptions to every rule. OTW was correct in how to adjust stirrup length for a hunt seat style English saddle. I wouldn't advise lengthening them very much from this position or you are going to be out of position on your horse which, in turn, will put you off balance with less coordination. It does feel very strange at first (I know, since I've been there), but it will feel more "natural" in time.

Even after all these years that I've rode hunt seat, I still have problems with my saddle slipping when I first get on... no matter how tight I get the girth. So, I normally use a mounting block to get on. I also prefer a neoprene girth with elastic-type ends. My girth has this on just one end, and I use that end nearest to me when I tighten my girth. Because the girth goes around the horse's belly much more so than a western, I like that little give this type of girth allows. This gives the horse room to expand his rib cage so he can breathe easier when working under saddle.

One little trick you can do with an English saddle, is once you are mounted with your saddle positioned correctly, bring your leg forward (usually the left one, but you can do this from either side) and then reach behind your leg to tighten your saddle. You'll be amazed at how much you can tighten your saddle this way... sometimes a good notch or two. Another thing that works well with English saddles is to walk your horse around right after you saddle him and then tighten your saddle, again. This will usually let you tighten the girth a bit, too. It's also easier if you start to buckle the girth nearer the back of the saddle and then buckle the front. Then, you will probably discover your back buckle is loose and can tighten it accordingly.

Ideally, a hunt seat saddle should sit just behind the point of the withers, but this will vary according to your horse's conformation. My rule-of-thumb is the pommel should be the same height as the cantle... or nearly so. Again, this depends on how your horse is put together.

As for an English saddle being "bouncey" at the trot; Hunt seat saddles are normally this way since you usually "post" at the trot when riding in one. I've always thought the saddle is made this way to make it easier and more comfortable to post when trotting. Once you learn how to post, it's a very comfortable way to ride in a hunt seat saddle. This is also the reason why your stirrups are shorter... to put you in balance so you can post and keep your seat and timing with your horse.

One last thing is the way your horse should move. His stride should be longer and cover more ground in the walk and the trot. The canter should be collected and flowing. He should be on-the-bit and you should have light rein contact with his mouth and add just enough leg pressure to push his hindquarters well under him. Your basic body alignment should be just like when you ride western, though your upper body may lean ever so slightly forward as your horse's speed increases. Just don't over exaggerate it. In time, this will all feel very natural to you and your horse.

You've entered a brand new world of riding from the one you're used to in your western saddle, and it can actually be fun & a great alternative to riding western once in awhile. It also gives your horse something new to think about.

"God forbid that I should go to any heaven in which there are no horses"
--Robert Browning

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
-- Author Unknown
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Phoodforhorses
Beginning Rider



Canada
83 Posts

Posted - 01/31/2006 :  11:01:30 AM  Show Profile  Visit Phoodforhorses's Homepage Send Phoodforhorses a Private Message
As was said before, you probably had way too much padding. An English saddle pad is mainly used to absorb sweat and keep dirt away from the saddle. The Navaho blanket would have been enough.

The pommel should still sit over the withers but you need to pull up the pad to make a little pocket so it doesn't pinch down on the withers (same as western) when you tighten the girth. The front edge of the panels should lie just behind an imaginary line drawn straight up from the back of the horse's elbow. An English girth is generally harder to tighten. Try doing it a bit at a time. Walk the horse around, then tighten again. When you pull it out sideways from the horse's side, you should have no more than about two finger's width of a gap. You don't need to pull extremely hard to check, just a comfortable pull. With some girths you might need to ride at the walk a bit, get off and then tighten again.

The bottom of the stirrups should hang approx. at the ankle bone when you let your legs hang down comfortably out of the stirrups.

If you were using a jumping or close contact saddle, there is not much to it (literally). It is meant to have a shallow seat and panels that are smaller and more forward so you can get off the horse's back easily to get over the jumps. A dressage saddle is the opposite. It has the deepest seat and longest panels so you can have a longer leg and more contact with your horse's sides. An all purpose saddle is in the middle of the two and meant for general English riding (can do a bit of jumping, dressage or trail riding in it).

With all English saddles you will probably feel a little less secure in the saddle but should be able to adjust to it within a few rides.

Edited by - Phoodforhorses on 01/31/2006 11:05:30 AM
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OnTheWay
Clinician

1433 Posts

Posted - 01/31/2006 :  11:43:18 AM  Show Profile Send OnTheWay a Private Message
RH, I thought a hunt seat saddle was the same as a close contact, not an all purpose. And that your stirrups were shorter on the CC (jumping) saddle than on the dressage (with the AP saddle offering a little leeway to use more as dressage or more as jumping). Did I read your post wrong or was my impression wrong?

I only rode my AP (Wintec 500) a couple of times so far, actually once only for about 10 minutes and another time for about 1/2 hour. I fussed with the stirrups, thinking they were too short, and when I lengthened them to the prescribed ankle length, something about them got really uncomfortable, I believe the leathers were digging in or something. I didn't have a lot of time to fiddle with it, but it wasn't something I would have gotten used to.

So were you saying to have the stirrups a little shorter than that? Because otherwise posting on that saddle would be pretty much like posting on a western saddle (same stirrup length).

One thing I WOULD suggest for anyone going from a western to an English is a grab strap. This is a strap that hooks onto both pommel D rings and spans in between. I never used mine, but just felt more comfortable just having it there in case I got a little off balance and wanted something to grab onto. And I did NOT like the grab strap I saw in a tack shop. Really nice quality (rolled leather) and all that, but way too long. If you ever needed it you'd be holding a loop with play in it, not something with any tension to speak of. So I actually used a curb strap. I doubt it would hold up the same (round punch staple holds it together) but that's what I did.

RH and PFH, since you're both more experienced in English than we are, what are any tips for seat balance for feeling a little more secure? This is a pretty much "nothing" saddle compared to how a western saddle surrounds you. Not a big feeling of security at all. Especially since the stirrups swing so freely in any direction.

Also, was glad to read your suggestions on tightening the girth, because I had a heck of a time cinching that thing up. Once Cloud un-puffed I was able to go several notches, but to start with, dealing with those little buckles -- I was dealing with first hole and waht a pain in the neck.

As for blanket or saddle pad, tell us what you think of this... The woman at Stateline Tack spent some time in England, and she said in Europe it is VERY common to ride an English saddle with NO pad of any kind. Everyone does it. They rarely use saddle pads.

So what do either of you think of that?
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Red Hawk
Clinician



USA
5092 Posts

Posted - 01/31/2006 :  12:32:42 PM  Show Profile Send Red Hawk a Private Message
OTW; From what I have just read, I do believe that PFH has definitely been running in English riding circles a whole lot more than I have. She has given you excellent advice. I also may be confusing a hunt seat saddle with what you are calling a jumping saddle. If I were to clarify it a little more, I consider a hunt seat saddle one with a forward seat. I prefer knee rolls as compared to a close contact mainly because I feel more secure in the saddle. It gives my knees a bit more to grab. I've looked at all purpose saddles in the tack shop, and most of them don't appear much different from what I ride... though I could be wrong.

I'm afraid I have had no experience with riding in a dressage saddle or a "saddle seat" type saddle. This is the kind of saddle that you see on horses such as the American Saddlebred. They are also common in the show ring on TWH's, Arabians, Morgans, etc. and are ridden with a full double bridle (two sets of reins and two bits). Both these styles are traditionally ridden with longer stirrups than a hunt seat saddle. In the show circles I was in there was only these two styles... hunt seat or saddle seat. So, that's what I am most familiar with.

As for stirrup length; Like I said, I'm more familiar with what I call hunt seat, so I feel I'm probably not qualified to give you any more information on that than I already have. I use the method PFH has mentioned and know that a dressage saddle and a saddle seat saddle are a little longer from what I've seen at shows and horse expos.

You could probably ride English style without a pad if you want to, but I prefer a pad just so I don't have to spend so much time cleaning my saddle. It's much easier to throw an English saddle pad into the washing machine than to spend time scrubbing dirt off the underside of my English saddle. But that's just my personal opinion.

I know what you mean about feeling a little insecure in an English as compared to a western. It took me awhile to get used to not seeing that horn in front of me. Basically, you sit any saddle about the same. The only difference is your stirrup length. Ideally (and not very many of us sit this way including me), your head, shoulders, hip, and heel should fall in a straight line. Your hip should be directly over your heels. When you look down (without leaning forward) at your knee, you shouldn't be able to see your toe, but your toe ought to be in a direct line with your knee. This is also the way you should sit a western saddle, too. What this does is it puts your center of balance all in a line where your horse can best balance you and do his job without you interfering with him... and all this should be done in a relaxed manner. Believe it or not, it can be done! LOL

"God forbid that I should go to any heaven in which there are no horses"
--Robert Browning

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
-- Author Unknown
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OnTheWay
Clinician

1433 Posts

Posted - 01/31/2006 :  1:13:53 PM  Show Profile Send OnTheWay a Private Message
Yup, what PFH said was what my impression was pretty much. I was originally wanting a dressage saddle because it's relatively a deeper seat and the panels are longer and more verticle. HOWEVER, in trying them a woman at the tack shop said if I was thinking of using it for trails and not anything specific (English discipline of one sort or another) that I should really be looking at All Purpose, because it's right in the middle, you can treat it as either jumping or dressage. So that's what I did. I was looking at their used leather ones, but then that afternoon ran across a deal on eBay for a brand new Wintec 500 AP w/CAIR panels and quick-change gullet that I picked up for $338, new with tags. Shipping was only $20 so for about $360. They're selling in tack shops for $500, I figured if I didn't like it I could consign it for $400 and after commission, not lose much. I do like having SOME English saddle, so for that money will probably just stay with it unless I find I'm just not using it.

However anytime I feel less than 99% secure though, the first thing I think of is that Western saddle, ROFL. Not kidding, I just feel more secure. Everything on an English saddle is just so FLAT! And SPARCE! I mean, not much to the things. But then that's exaactly what I wanted it, so I could have more horse contact.

May take a few lessons on proper seat and balance. That caouldn't hurt in Western riding either. I have NO clue how my ear lobes, torso, hips and ankles line up. Probably not in a vertical plum line. I think it's hard to know unless you have a practiced eye trouble shooting from the ground.

Good info, PFH on the positioning of the English saddle! Positioning forward/backward is my biggest problem with either because of Cloud's weird withers. Lining it up so the panels drop a plumb line to the back of her elbow is a good guideline, at least, to start from.

RH, I'd always heard cantle should be slightly HIGHER than pommel. However, that's pretty arbitrary (higher or even or whatever) simply because depending on the English saddle, the cantle height varies considerably! Certain dressage saddles, the thing just is high any way you cut it (deep seated ones like the old Collegiates). And some English saddles are so flat there's barely a cantle at all.

So what I've been going by is the level-ness of the seat where your butt goes. Not tipped forwrd, not tipped backward, flat and level. But again, the line-up of front of panels with back of elbows is at least a criteria to keep in mind, that doesn't seem like it would vary with the English saddle one bit.

I didn't mean to take over the thread, I'm hoping that my questions are pretty much things OP would be wondering also if she's as new as I am to English.
C
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Stormie
Clinician

1630 Posts

Posted - 01/31/2006 :  1:53:06 PM  Show Profile  Visit Stormie's Homepage Send Stormie a Private Message
Anything that helps with balance will help you feel more solid in the saddle. Riding without stirrups, lunge line work,....look into some of the methods like Lynn Palm's that reall focus on that type of thing.

Stirrup leathers stretch over time so the near side one gets longer. You need to switch the leathers from side to side every so many months to help keep them even. BUT no reason you can put them in different numbered holes if that is what you need. Before my hip got fixed I always had to ride with one stirrup longer then the other and they weren't stretched at all. I had to or I always felt like my good side was falling off the horse if I put them longer or was pushing me off the other side if I put it shorter.
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Country Bumpkin
Advanced Rider



USA
168 Posts

Posted - 01/31/2006 :  11:26:23 PM  Show Profile  Visit Country Bumpkin's Homepage Send Country Bumpkin a Private Message
Ok,thanks SO much guys! I feel kinda silly asking all these questions because I have rode a long time but now I feel like a beginner again lol.I am pretty sure it is an all purpose saddle. I sat in it today on a stand so I could figure out how long to make my stirrups and I think I have them adjusted ok now.I am planning on trying it again tomorrow with the thin navaho blanket. It did look really funny though because the only thing english on her was the saddle lol. I had my reining bit on her with her blue and tan vaquero bridle,western pad lol and me in my western clothes lol.
Squeaker had to check the saddle out when she first saw it. She was really looking it over lol and when I put it on her she turned her head around to check it out lol.
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Stormie
Clinician

1630 Posts

Posted - 01/31/2006 :  11:50:04 PM  Show Profile  Visit Stormie's Homepage Send Stormie a Private Message
Don't feel too bad when I was racing Rosie I would run in her barrel saddle and her dressage bridle. It was just easier then swapping bits all of the time. I have also done a lot of trail riding with an english saddle and a western bridle or the other way around.
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Phoodforhorses
Beginning Rider



Canada
83 Posts

Posted - 01/31/2006 :  11:52:25 PM  Show Profile  Visit Phoodforhorses's Homepage Send Phoodforhorses a Private Message
As Stormie said, to help with balance, try things like riding without stirrups (just do this at the walk and little bits of trot to start). You could have someone lunge you so you don't have to worry about steering or starting/stopping.

On the lunge line work on things like reaching one hand as high up towards your horse's head as you can - then the other - then both. Do this slowly so you don't throw your horse off balance either. Reach back towards his tail, hold hands out to the sides like a bird, etc. Do these at the walk first, then at the trot but don't try to reach as far as you can at the walk or you'll be reaching the dirt. You could also try riding without stirrups on the lunge line too, but just take it slowly till you feel ready to push yourself just a tiny bit further. (Also, just a tip, when riding without stirrups, many people cross each stirrup over top of the horse's neck to the other side just in front of the saddle. This keeps them from bouncing around and accidently cueing your horse to go faster.

As far as balancing the saddle, each saddle brand and type is different in terms of where the deepest part of the seat lies. But I'd have to say that most should be fairly even in terms of the pommel and the cantle. For example, my last QH was very downhill (bum-high) so I had to have a saddle-fitter come out and restuff my saddle so that the front end was built up higher to have it sit even on the horse. You can buy wedge pads to help build up the back end of the saddle if the cantle is clearly laying lower than the pommel.

In terms of general English riding, the All Purpose is your best choice. I guarantee you that if you can do some riding without your stirrups (even at the walk) when you first get on, your stirrup length will feel better - maybe even a little shorter than you first thought. The rule of thumb is bottom of the stirrup at the ankle bone, but I always felt that was too short for me. If you make your stirrups a little shorter, you will probably also feel a little more secure. But make sure when you sit in an English saddle that you are not sitting too far back on your bu.t.t. cheeks or your legs will be too far forward (this will happen with stirrups too short). If you tend to lean too far forward you will be gripping with your upper thighs and knees to help you balance and you will have a hard time keeping your heels down.

Working on your balance when riding English is a bit harder at first but once you've got it, you'll wonder why you ever needed that horn in the first place.
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OnTheWay
Clinician

1433 Posts

Posted - 02/01/2006 :  06:43:28 AM  Show Profile Send OnTheWay a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Phoodforhorses

As Stormie said, to help with balance, try things like riding without stirrups (just do this at the walk and little bits of trot to start). You could have someone lunge you so you don't have to worry about steering or starting/stopping.

On the lunge line work on things like reaching one hand as high up towards your horse's head as you can - then the other - then both. Do this slowly so you don't throw your horse off balance either. Reach back towards his tail, hold hands out to the sides like a bird, etc. Do these at the walk first, then at the trot but don't try to reach as far as you can at the walk or you'll be reaching the dirt. You could also try riding without stirrups on the lunge line too, but just take it slowly till you feel ready to push yourself just a tiny bit further. (Also, just a tip, when riding without stirrups, many people cross each stirrup over top of the horse's neck to the other side just in front of the saddle. This keeps them from bouncing around and accidently cueing your horse to go faster.

As far as balancing the saddle, each saddle brand and type is different in terms of where the deepest part of the seat lies. But I'd have to say that most should be fairly even in terms of the pommel and the cantle. For example, my last QH was very downhill (bum-high) so I had to have a saddle-fitter come out and restuff my saddle so that the front end was built up higher to have it sit even on the horse. You can buy wedge pads to help build up the back end of the saddle if the cantle is clearly laying lower than the pommel.

In terms of general English riding, the All Purpose is your best choice. I guarantee you that if you can do some riding without your stirrups (even at the walk) when you first get on, your stirrup length will feel better - maybe even a little shorter than you first thought. The rule of thumb is bottom of the stirrup at the ankle bone, but I always felt that was too short for me. If you make your stirrups a little shorter, you will probably also feel a little more secure. But make sure when you sit in an English saddle that you are not sitting too far back on your bu.t.t. cheeks or your legs will be too far forward (this will happen with stirrups too short). If you tend to lean too far forward you will be gripping with your upper thighs and knees to help you balance and you will have a hard time keeping your heels down.

Working on your balance when riding English is a bit harder at first but once you've got it, you'll wonder why you ever needed that horn in the first place.



PFH, those are some excellent suggestions. I've read some of them along the way but forgot them.

I'm reeeeeally glad to hear you say you think AP is a good bet. After I bought mine, wouldn't you know, everyone I talked to said if switching from Western, definitely get a dressage because it's deeper seat, etc. etc. I think mine has a "reasonably" deep seat... not like some dressage saddles I've seen but better than other English saddles.

You mentioned the horn. I admit, that's a security blanket for me. I don't ride hanging on to it or anything, I just like having it there in case I feel I need something solid to grab onto. On the other hand, IF the horse ever fell I would hate to have that thing sticking up in case my best emergency dismount involved swinging my leg over the front. Same with lower cantle in back.

I've heard that the right "seat" on an English saddle is sitting a little forward compared to Western, so I may have been doing just what you said, sitting a little farther back. I tried sitting up straighter (more erect) and it felt unnatural.

I did have my stirrups shorter on my road test ride than ankle length, and when I got home, adjusted them all the way down to that. That's when I felt the leathers digging in or pinching.

Once the weather improves so I'm not riding Cloud on the rare nice day with 6-8 weeks in between, but getting her (and me) riding often enough so I feel she's a little more predictable, then I will try the English again.

One thing I LIKED about the English is also what I complained about though, sort of the other side of it. While the stirrups are free-er moving, the good thing is the panels don't go all the way, or are not as thick and cumbersome between your legs and the horse. Just really liked that contact. The first time I tried it (when I had about 10 minutes only) the first thing I tried was side pass (maybe leg yield) because I think somewhere in her background she was trained for it. I couldn't believe it, but she seemed to pick up on what I was suggesting a WHOLE LOT more than under the western saddle. She was trotting at a definite diagonal. Then from a walk, I pressed in with my lower legs (not heels) and she went from a walk to a canter and it seemed a lot smoother of a canter than I was getting with the Western. I was truly limited on time (testing this out fast before an auction ended) and with those observations, decided this was for me.

Now, of course, I'm a little intimidated by it. Hope what you said about getting used to it and maybe even preferring it will be the case! Thanks for the encouraging words and the suggestions!
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Annienigma
Tenderfoot

USA
2 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2006 :  02:17:23 AM  Show Profile  Visit Annienigma's Homepage Send Annienigma a Private Message
I am new to these forums and found them while looking for some answers about a saddle type (I have an antique: Buena-Vista or plantation style). I couldn't resist responding to this topic though. There was a similar thread under 'saddle types' in Dec '05 then I saw this newer one with the same questions.

It seems the question and the responses here are based on being able to balance on the saddle. I believe herein lies the problem. Regardless of the saddle you are on the balance should be with the horse. You should be riding the horse rather than riding the saddle. I've actually had a loose saddle slip all the way under a run-away horse yet maintained my balance on the horse's back.

I was born and raised in the Bluegrass (horse country) and learned to ride at an early age. As with many people I know here, rather they ride Western or English, I learned to ride bareback first. I wasn't 'allowed' by my instructor to ride with a saddle until I mastered riding bareback; including posting to a trot. This not only built up my muscles for riding but taught me correct posture and to 'feel' the horse and his movements and learn to keep my balance by keeping the center of gravity low, across the pelvis/hips. If you use your arms to hold on or grab hold of something you are causing your center of gravity to rise and it will actually cause you to lose your balance. You may occasionally have to lean with your hand on the horses neck or the saddle pommel to keep from being thrown too far forward (esp. if a horse bucks) but you learn to counter-balance to the horses movements by 'leaning' and 'twisting' your torso thus keeping the center of gravity low, similar to riding a bicycle or motorcycle.

As mentioned in this post, with some English saddles you have closer contact and a better feel of the horse and his movements. If riding bareback occasionally for practice sounds too much for you (you can use a blanket), then perhaps more practice riding English and more importantly as mentioned above, riding without stirrups for practice occasionally, including posting without stirrups, so you can 'feel' the horses movements and balance to them rather than to the saddle will be a lot of help to you regardless of the saddle you end up using. Remember when riding without stirrups though not to just let your legs dangle... If you can post without stirrups (using thigh muscles) you will be forced into a correct position naturally and will know where to set the stirrups' length.

Hope this is helpful.
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Hook
Trail Boss (Moderator)



Canada
6115 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2006 :  04:55:09 AM  Show Profile  Visit Hook's Homepage Send Hook a Private Message
Hi Annie Welcome to the forum from Canada.
Mrs. Hook learned to ride bareback and she would agree with you completely. She has way better balance and feel for the horse than I. Sound like you could add another experienced opinion to our discussuions.

Hook(ed)......on Horses

"The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. " Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
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OnTheWay
Clinician

1433 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2006 :  08:15:08 AM  Show Profile Send OnTheWay a Private Message
Agree with Hook, Annie, welcome!

One question about riding bareback though. My horse responds to legs squeezing, that's her cue to take off. I have tried squeezing with just my thighs and she seems okay with that, but wow, if my lower legs squeeze in even a little bit, that's her cue to speed up. So let's assume you're starting out riding without stirrups and you feel, at some point, like you need to clamp on tighter. I'm not sure if feeling off balance I could keep my lower legs exempt from that. So how do you deal with that?

Otherwise, sounds like everything you're suggesting is right on. I'm not sure I understand how to focus my center of gravity more into hips/pelvis... I hope I'm doing that already, but anything more you could write about that, I'm sure would be appreciated by more than just me alone. ;-)

You were saying to post the trot without stirrups, using your thighs and that would automatically focus your center of gravity where it belongs AND also tell you where your stirrups should be (length) to keep it that way. Did I understand that right? Because that's pretty clear and seems pretty do-able.

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Annienigma
Tenderfoot

USA
2 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2006 :  6:56:59 PM  Show Profile  Visit Annienigma's Homepage Send Annienigma a Private Message

quote from OTW
You were saying to post the trot without stirrups, using your thighs and that would automatically focus your center of gravity where it belongs AND also tell you where your stirrups should be (length) to keep it that way. Did I understand that right? Because that's pretty clear and seems pretty do-able.


It is a little harder to keep that position just starting out but if while the horse is standing still you can position yourself so that you can grip enough with your thighs to bring your butt up from the saddle, while remembering to keep your heels down, than you are pretty much in the correct position. Having someone watching of course helps. Also if you are gripping through your thighs and have your heels down you will find it actually forces your lower legs away from the horse so you shouldn't have the problem with cueing the horse to speed up. You would have to release the grip through your thighs in order to turn your heels toward the horse to kick her belly.
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fracturedbones
Clinician



3424 Posts

Posted - 02/03/2006 :  12:02:14 PM  Show Profile  Visit fracturedbones's Homepage Send fracturedbones a Private Message
My first lessons were English, but every ride not a lesson was always Western. When I started lesson years ago in Western, my instructor and everyone else kept telling me my stirrups were too short. Hard to get used to being longer, though have come down a ways.

I may borrow my sister's old English saddle one day...fun for arena but I'd sure rather be on a Western saddle (the horn factor!!) on a trail ride.
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