Major Seat Problems!! :(
Last Post 18 Oct 2009 05:42 PM by BuckskinPaint. 11 Replies.
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huntseat_chicUser is Offline
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13 Oct 2009 03:59 PM

         I have been riding for about four years now.  Over the summer I was a pretty great rider ( that is good enough to win first place out of ten riders in junior huntseat walk/trot) and I should have gotten better.  The complete opposite happened and I haven't just gotten worse, I've gotten to be a terrible rider. The trouble is all in my seat. Let me explain this short and sweet:

         I sit on the right side of the saddle ( enough for you to be able to read what's written on the back of my shirt ).  My right leg is almost completely invisible from behind because I sit on one side. My right toe points out.  My left knee is always on the horse. My left toe points straight.  My right hand is always closed.  My left hand is always open.  If you can't already tell, everything I'm doing causes my horse to run into the rail. My problem:  I can't stop.

        When it really shows is on my turns.  Because my left hand is open, allowing my body to sit on the right hand side of my horse, I don't steer. Because my body is twisted, when I feel like I've pulled my hand all the way behind my but, and I'm falling off the horse,  all I've done is turn my body straight.  My horse can't feel me turn, and so he doesn't know when to turn.  He always slows dramatically in the turns because he doesn't want to hit the fence ( I obviously am not capable of steering him ).  Because I am posting faster than he trots, he feels pinching and swings his head all crazy.  I try to turn him, and instead of my left knee coming off, it goes on even harder.

         You don't know how long I'v been working on this.  During every lesson, I always want to cry because no matter how hard I try, I can't get that left knee off.

        I want to do lunge work and sit the trot to correct my seat.  I've already done this in one lesson, and the ending result was that I could actually post the trot with a relaxed left knee and everything was alright.  But when we went to the rail I lost it.  I want to keep doing lunge work, and create correct muscle memory.  Then when I go back to posting with stirrups, my seat will want to be straight rather than sideways.

         My instructor didn't let me do lunge work during my last lesson,however, because she wanted me to get ready for the show.  My lesson was HORRIBLE! Why? Because we weren't correcting my problem.  By posting sideways on the rail I was only enforcing it.  My show was terrible as well.  I practiced two hours before the show, and all my instructor said was to keep practicing, keep practicing.  I know what I'm doing wrong. I just CANT STOP.  I physically dont know how to loosen my left leg's tight grip.  I am in a lock, and I don't know how to break out.  Every time I try to turn, my body uses my knee pressure to force the resistant top half over, creating a corkscrew. 

      PLEASE SOMEONE HELP

    FluffyDUser is Offline
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    13 Oct 2009 04:06 PM

    There are a ton more experienced people than me on here, but here is what I would do..  Take a small twig/pencil, - etc.  Hold it in each hand as well as the reins - this keeps your hands spaced correctly as well as keeping both hands closed.   Also, I would try riding without stirrups - I too sit on the right.... riding without stirrups as well as bareback has helped a TON!  Ride with your left out of the stirrups, right in... then switch...

     

    flakemusic_horseUser is Offline
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    13 Oct 2009 04:16 PM
    There is always the possibility that your own alignment could be off. It seems like this came on suddenly though, so it makes me wonder if something is off with your equipment, or if you're just more "one-sided" (most of us are!) and your instructor's lack of addressing this issue has caused it to get worse. 

    I'd sit down and have a talk with her addressing your concerns. Let her know that you won't be bored by going back to the basics and that you understand that a good foundation will pay off heaps in the long run! 

    Fluffy gave you good advice - work without stirrups, bareback work, and work without reins are all wonderful ways to improve your seat. One exercise that is good: set up three or four cones or barrels to weave your horse through while riding either bareback or without stirrups. You should be able to do this at a sitting trot without losing your balance, but when you lean (forward, or to one side) it will knock you off balance. 

    It might also help you to read or watch Sally Swift's Centered Riding. She talks a lot about body awareness and gives different exercises for you to do. 
    NMynarichUser is Offline
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    13 Oct 2009 05:40 PM

    In addition to the advice already given, it sort of sounds like you're "leaning on the rail."  This is more common in horses than riders, but I can't help but wonder if working on the quarter line would help.

    Also, take a deep breath and don't think so hard about your body position.  You may be overanalyzing, which is causing you to overcompensate and become unbalanced.  Try to relax... do some of the lunge line exercises while you're riding the quarter line to the best of your ability.  Loosen up your legs by doing "hip circles" by bringing your thighs up, out, and back while riding with no stirrups (don't do too many or you're hips will cramp up).  March your knees up and down at the sitting trot with no stirrups by alternatively lifting each knee up to the pommel of the horse.

    lauraliteUser is Online
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    13 Oct 2009 06:17 PM

     Following up on a thougt by an earlier poster, I think you need to see a physical therapist/qualified chiropractor/osteopathic physician for an eval.

    As hard as you've been trying, it really MIGHT be a physical problem -- you might be off-balance, or "out of alignment."

    If I were you (finances/insurance permitting), I'd actually try to start with a sports-medicine osteopathic physician (have the initials D.O. instead of M.D. after their name). One of the ER doctors I used to work with was a D.O., and she was just awesome at treating basic musculoskeletal complaints. They're basically a doctor and a chiropractor rolled into one. 

    The physical therapist would be my second choice, and the chiropractor my third choice -- make sure you get good references. I've seen many chiropractors of questionable ability. (To an extent, that's true of all medical professions, but  for some reason chiropractors seem to attract it). A reputable chiro won't mind if you ask for references, and should be happy to provide them. Bad chiros can cause some serious damage.

    Another (cheaper) suggestion would be to do some exercises to increase your flexibility/core strength/balance. Both yoga and pilates can help with this.  I've got tons of DVDs (sure do like to collect them; really wish I was on top of doing the DVDs as I am buying them). PM me if you want some titles. 

    SolarisUser is Offline
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    14 Oct 2009 06:52 AM

    I would get yourself checked out by a doctor, I agree with lauralite.

    Your instincts are also correct -- forget about shows and work on the problem methodically.  Just doing laps of incorrect "practice" won't help.  Sounds like the longe work was a step in the right direction and you need to keep doing that.  If your instructor won't help you after you have a heart to heart, then maybe time for a new instructor.

    TCFarm50User is Offline
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    14 Oct 2009 09:54 AM

    I agree with LL and Solo, and also immediately thought that you might be "out of wack" and just need an adjustment. Are you favoring or tensing on the left side when you do other activities such as driving or sitting? Quite possibly some other activity in your daily routine may be contributing to this?

    huntseat_chicUser is Offline
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    14 Oct 2009 01:09 PM

         Thanks so much everyone.  As I remember, I did used to have a problem with my left hip.  It would pop out of place with every step after walking long distances.  I saw a physical therapist a few years ago and the problem was fixed.  I'm probably due for another appointment, though!

         TCFarm50, during school gym class I do about 15 minutes worth of stretches, so I'd think that that would only help.Sad 

         Anyway everyone, thanks again for the help.  I'll probably check out some yoga videos. Anything that could possibly help!

        

    ctungateUser is Offline
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    14 Oct 2009 03:48 PM

    [quote user="huntseat_chic"]I saw a physical therapist a few years ago and the problem was fixed.[/quote] 

    It may have been "fixed" a few years ago, but I would think the problem is back.  Did you keep up with the exercises and stretches you did then?  If not, I would say your body has gone back to the alignment that is easier for it to keep.  Time to call the PT!

    Since you had a prior issue of your hip popping out of place, I would suggest you wait to try yoga until you see a PT.  If your body is somehow out of alignment, you'll find the poses pretty difficult and hard to maintain. 

    Get thee to the physical therapist!

    salsquatch1User is Offline
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    18 Oct 2009 01:57 PM

    If everything was fine during your lounge lesson, then that what you need to do to fix your problems.  I would skip showing until you have an independent seat, legs and hands, and the best way to do that is on the lounge line.  If you trainer won't listen to that, I would find a different one.  Telling you just to keep practicing when it is obviously not going well is useless!

    BuckskinPaintUser is Offline
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    18 Oct 2009 05:42 PM

    My suggestion is to ditch one of your chairs at home and sit on an exercise ball.  I have been doing this for a few months now.  I ditched the one near my computer desk.  I always sit on the ball, and try to keep my leg in position as if I were in the saddle. I used to always sit on the back of my thigh and have both toes pointing out creating grip in my calf.  By getting used to the correct feel constantly at home, I've almost totally corrected my issues.  My hip also has problems. (I fell down a flight of stairs on my hip years ago and it still locks up.)  If it gets tight on the ball, I can always kinda roll off, stretch, and try again. I definitely feel more secure now. 

    madel_equestrianUser is Offline
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    27 Oct 2009 01:36 PM

     It is EXTREMELY common for avid horseriders to have trouble with their hips becoming misaligned.  A good chiropractor/other will help you.  

    Also- I would seriously consider looking into a new trainer.  No offense if you really like your trainer, but if you are progressing with lunge line work and feeling this frustrated with your riding ability your priority needs to be in your riding, not in going to a show.  It sounds like your instructor is more worried about you making her look good at a horse show then really helping you as a rider.  Look for a trainer that has a solid Dressage foundation and a really well broke lesson horse.  When you call around to trainers ask them if they are experienced giving lunge line lessons and lessons in strengthening the seat.  Even if you rider hunters, saddleseat, or some other form, a solid dressage coach will really help you through balancing and fixing your seat.  The best lesson I ever had was from a Dressage coach that put me through a lunge line lesson with no reins, no stirrups, and my eyes closed!  It completely changed my awareness of my body.

    Whatever you decide keep in mind that progressing as a rider is more important than the show next week.  There will always be more shows later on when you are feeling confident in your seat and back on track.

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