Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Stirrup length, the posting trot, and chair seat

Today let's talk ALL the things that drive me crazy on a daily dressage riding basis, things that confound me no matter how hard I try to get my head body parts around them. They all tie together in a neat little bundle of equitation catastrophe.

behold! the beauty of none of the body parts working in unison

My biggest problem--well, the biggest problem in in this specific subcategory of all my many problems--is with posting the trot in my dressage saddle. I work tirelessly to try to correct this enigma. I park Bobby in front of the mirror and try to manipulate my body into the position it needs to be in to post upwards and forwards with a long, straight leg and long, straight back. I'm not above grabbing mane or the front of my saddle, but the thing I fuck with the most is my stirrup length.

I don't keep my stirrups the same length for more than a few rides in a row. One day they'll be fine, and the next I'll get on and they feel like they're three holes off. Some days short feels too short, long feels too long, or the right will feel like it belongs to a different rider than the one on left. 

This applies to my jump saddle as well, so it might be something like leg/hip tension that's making me tighten my muscles and not stretch as well as the ride before. Also perhaps stirrup adjusting barn trolls that invade the tack room overnight? Let's not rule out all the possibilities. 

On the days where my stirrups feel too long, I feel like I don't have a solid base to post from. "Don't post from your stirrups!" is obviously a good answer to that, but it's more that I feel like I'm reaching just to make contact with my irons. When they're too short, I feel like I'm blasting ten feet out of the saddle. 

So the problem starts there. My leg is all hibbily bibbily having its own personal identity crisis, and the rest of my body is just like abort!!! My core collapses, my shoulders slouch, and I can barely get my ass out of the saddle without a great effort of throwing my fat roll forwards and following it in a vague interpretation of the fetal position. Enter the chair seat.

collapse all the things

My saddle has very tiny knee rolls which I generally prefer as I have obscenely long femurs and knee rolls tend to yank my leg around into not a comfortable position. But I have to wonder if having more help up there wouldn't force my leg to behave itself and stay in that ideal hip to heel alignment, and if in turn my stirrups wouldn't constantly feel like they weren't at the wrong length. 

Is any of this making sense? Honestly I'm not sure how much sense it makes to me either.

WHICH IS PROBABLY WHY I CAN'T POST CORRECTLY.

Actually, though, some days it's just fine and I have zero issues making my body behave itself.

WHICH JUST MAKES THE PROBLEM WORSE.

i would settle for this as defualt

Does anyone else have this problem? Where your stirrup length never feels right? What is the right length? Any words of advice on how to keep my leg underneath me better in a dressage saddle? This isn't a jump saddle problem, by the way. It's exclusive to dressage.

WHICH PROBABLY MEANS I NEED A NEW SADDLE.

WHICH MEANS I QUIT RIDING.

possibly if i shove my ass forward ten feet it would help?

44 comments:

  1. Same problem. I've been chalking it up to switching from jump saddle to dressage saddle week by week...I simply can't even. I can't ride one discipline well, why I feel the need to try two is beyond me.

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    1. LOL this is of no help at all, but I feel you.

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  2. Ugh I feel this. I fix it by simply sitting the trot all the time. And it's a small part of why I want to enter the eventing world at a level where I"m not required to post the trot.

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    1. Yeah sitting the trot is where it's at.

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  3. I once had a trainer explain to me that the reason posting in a dressage saddle always feels so awkward is because they're not designed to be posted in.

    I maintain that I can do my monkey cling in most anything, but it's interesting to think about.

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    1. Blame the discipline itself - I like it!

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  4. I have this problem sometimes, too! The biggest problem I have is feeling like my right stirrup is always shorter than my left one, even after I've fiddled with the stupid stirrup leathers again and again. Ugh.

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  5. From the pictures, I'd guess that your saddle is indeed too small for your obscenely long femurs. It looks like you can't get closer to vertical with your femur without having your knee drop off the flap. As a result, you are sitting behind the "sweet spot" and that encourages the forward collapse, and then your feet go forward to stay under you. So yes, I am no expert, but if you could borrow a different saddle to try, it may help you solve it. Do you find posting easier bareback? (Of course, riding that shark finned moose bareback is not something I'd want to even attempt.) And yes, hip flexor tension can affect how the stirrups feel. If it bounces back and forth between right vs. left feeling off, another factor could be the pad setup. I leased a horse for a long time that used a gel pad- if that sucker shifted half an inch during saddling I would be crooked the entire ride. I hope you can figure something out without giving up on riding- I LOVE your blog and adventures with Bobby!

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    1. Cannot deal with more saddle shopping. Cannot. Quitting riding seems easier.

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  6. fun fact: according to my dressage trainer, i actually only post with just one of my hips, and the other just kinda gets dragged along for the ride.

    and i'm scared of change so i don't ever touch my stirrups. like ever. even when i know they need to be changed it still takes me like three months to make myself do it. not sure this is advisable either tho.

    idk. it's all fucking gibberish to me. and black magic.

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    1. Riding in general is pretty much voodoo magic to me tbh.

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  7. In my short lived dressage career I could never post. Ever. Just royally sucked at it. So I feel this.

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    1. Maybe changing disciplines is the way for me to go?

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  8. I used to have this problem when I was eventing. For me it was a hip flexor thing though. Now that I'm just doing dressage though, it happens less- I have had the same stirrup length for a couple years now. I do prefer my stirrups shorter if I'm posting or on a bigger moving horse though- I ride one hole shorter on TC than I did on Rico and today was one of the first days where the stirrups felt a touch short. Iiiinteresting.

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    1. Hmmmm. I wonder if I'm tightening one day and Bobby's tightening the next and that's playing into why one day the length feels perfect and the next it doesn't.

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  9. Buy my Jaguar, please. Has a small-mid knee/thigh roll (because I don't like huge knee rolls either), fits long legs and pointy whithers with flat sides. I'll make you a deal. Haha.

    But seriously, sitting the trot is where it's at. I have trouble dressaging while posting as well- it was described to me as, "I'm not making the sit beat of the posting trot like the sitting of a sitting trot." But like, how are you supposed to get yourself out of that full sit in time with your horse, and how are you supposed to get INTO that full sit in a timely fashion without thumping down on the horse?! Solution: f posting trot, just sit.

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    1. I'll buy your Jaguar as soon as my horse stops getting medical mystery illnesses and racking up thousand dollar vet bills.

      I like that the collective solution to my problem seems to be just to stop posting. ON IT.

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  10. I had a prestige jump saddle that was like that for me and it really was that the blocks were keeping me from sitting in the right place. I actually considered completely removing all the blocks on it because I think it would have been more comfortable...but I sold it instead.
    Anyways, if you ever want to test the long thigh being an issue theory I have two saddles made for insanely long legs, lol. So maybe I'll make it back to NY at some point or you can take a road trip to SE Michigan. ;)

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    1. I had to pull all the blocks out of my last jump saddle because they were pushing my leg in completely the wrong place. That's why I don't really want to get something with thigh blocks because my thigh is not a normal length. You feel me, fellow sasquatch! ;)

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  11. I don't know if any of this will help.. but.. Sometimes if I warm up without stirrups to stretch my leg down and into the right place, and then pick the stirrups up, it helps put my leg where it's supposed to be with the stirrups. It sometimes also helps for me to think about rolling forward onto the front of my thigh in the 'up' part of the post, if that makes any sense? So not like, bodily hefting my ass out of the saddle but letting the bounce just kind of pop me forward, thighs roll very slightly in towards the horse for a moment, and then I float back down. Good luck - my left stirrup is also ALWAYS feeling shorter than my right, but sometimes that's because Dino isn't engaging his right hind leg, so the left side of my body is actually sitting higher than the right.

    (your saddle also does look a bit small for you in the pics, but that is just my non-professional opinion.)

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    1. I second this suggestion.
      My trainer also once mentioned to me to use my thighs more, let my feet bounce in the stirrups, and use the thigh blocks for me, not against me. Really solidifying my thighs and allowing my feet to basically bounce around the in the stirrups has done wonders for my position. Her whole mantra is that most of the work comes from the thighs first anyways, especially with how sensitive my horse is. I also post very shallow - small posts with an engaged core keeps me centered and comfortable.

      You honestly might fair better with slightly bigger rolls to help your thighs.

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    2. I'll definitely try warming up without stirrups. My saddle really does feel fine to ride in while sitting, so maybe I just need to stretch myself out more, like Bobby has to.

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    3. Thirding this. I had a lot of problems with stirrups never feeling comfortable because of an old injury in my hip. Once I warm up and stretch, I can usually drop my stirrups two holes. My hips are just having none of that stretching down and around the horse crap at the start of a ride. But it's getting better with time. At least it's not saddle shopping? Just no stirrups and possibly lunge line torture sessions.

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  12. I only have this problem when I switch from different saddles. Once I started sticking with the dressage the problem disappeared. I did a lot of no-stirrup work and standing in the stirrups with a really long leg to get used to dressage leg again.

    Switching your stirrups that often is definitely not a good sign. Could be a saddle fit issue for you. If you don't want to deal with that I'd say pick a stirrup length that you find on a good day and stick with it for a while. Switching around so much is probably just making your issue worse. But I also hate switching stirrup lengths so I could just be projecting my issues.

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    1. Ooh, I like the idea of standing to stretch my leg out as well. Definitely adding that to the list!

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  13. You are not wanting to hear this: I had the same issue as you for years. I was ready to quit. I could not keep my legs out of a chair seat.
    Then I got a new saddle - fitting me and my horse. And that issue went away. Like magic.

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    1. Nooooooooooooo. I think I'd rather suffer through bad position than do more saddle shopping, especially since this one fits my horse just fine.

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  14. This happens to me every once in a while -- my leg just all of a sudden won't feel SOLID and I think I need to take up my stirrups. BUT I know it's me, because my stirrup holes have numbers :-)

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    1. Right?! No one else rides in my saddles so there's no reason for them to suddenly feel too long or too short!

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  15. Looks as though the saddle is a little to small for you, your stirrups also look a little short. Try riding with out your stirrups to get your legs long. That may help you sort out your issues.

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    1. Too short?! Sweet justice, they feel as long as I can go already as is. Gahh, dressage torture never ends!!

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  16. I've ridden in a dressage saddle exactly once, and could not post at all. So I have no helpful words for you, and probably shouldn't bother commenting.
    But I've been having this stirrup length issue lately too, so I'm blaming some weird change in earth's gravitational pull.

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  17. Ahhh how frustrating! I would guess you are fighting your saddle, because it should be that hard in a good fitting saddle. Interesting idea about the tension in your hips/legs- I could see that causing problems. Good luck and keep us updated!- Kelly @ hunkyhanoverian.com

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    1. I'll update provided I don't give up on posting the trot for the rest of eternity. ;)

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  18. I'm really not looking forward to agreeing with everyone, it is likely the saddle. Have you tried riding without stirrups? How does it feel?

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    1. It feels fine in every other way but the posting trot.

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  19. Yeah, if I needed a new saddle, I'd quit riding also. I'm done with saddles. I can't figure out the proper length either. Or flap, like WTF, why are there different ones? I dunno.

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    1. I wish I lived in dressage land instead of hunter land so I could at least try different ones out

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  20. Dude I feel you! I rode with no saddle and no stirrups for quite a while and I can never get them just right. Usually they just act as another surface for me to bounce off of...

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    1. Going bareback sounds better than saddle shopping.

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  21. "a neat bundle of equitation catastrophe"

    Yes. So much. Can we start a club hahah

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    1. George Morris will be our arch enemy lol

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If you can't say anything nice, fuck off.