Musings on leg position

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HafDressage
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Musings on leg position

Postby HafDressage » Thu Sep 06, 2018 2:21 am

Last week a friend and I joined Dressage Today Online and we both are totally in love with it. I decided to start with Catherine Haddad videos and have watched a few others as well (including a couple of Gareth Hughes videos on flying changes that are really helpful).

So one thing that is interesting is that Catherine Haddad really has a system that is different from the one I've subscribed to. I thought her teaching was really clear and articulate, so I think her system works really well for her and I have more admiration for her after watching the videos than before. What was super notable and she talks a lot about in her videos is what she calls "skeletal riding." It's a bit more of a forward leg, sit on your seat pockets style of riding that she advocates for. She calls it skeletal riding with the idea that you allow your bones following the horse to dictate your position.

This of course sent me into a position debate between her position style and a longer leg position, which is what I've been taught and certainly "more in style in current times."

Now, I'm all for riding in balance, so I don't mind changing my position to something that isn't as currently "on trend." That being said, however, ultimately I've come out of that debate with the belief that a more forward leg doesn't work well for my body. When CH rides with a more forward leg, she is able to really keep her upper body balanced and over the center of the horse. For her, she really does stay in excellent balance, so, I think it really works for her. For me, however, I am comfortable with a much straighter leg and I think my torso is longer than hers. So, when my legs I get in front of my center of gravity, I cannot keep my upper body at the vertical and end up leaning back. I tried a few different ways and times and I think that just isn't a system for my body.

So, just curious where you guys stand on this and what you have found in your riding. It is always interesting to me how many different paths to Rome there are and then the how each path works for some, but not others.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Moutaineer » Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:31 am

I shall follow this discussion with interest. I've been playing around with this myself, as, watching videos of my riding I found I was riding inadvertantly too much "on my pockets" and leaning back, getting being the movement and stiffening my arms (In the trot.) So I've been experimenting with more of what I can only describe as more of a "kneeling" position, which brings me more forward and upright over my pelvis, without leaning forward. Its only a couple of inches different, but it gives me much better body control and more flexible arms, I think.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby khall » Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:43 am

I have the total opposite problem and that I have worked on since last year. Trainer in Spain really helped with this. I rotate my pelvis forward and my leg goes too far back. I have to think about bringing my knees forward and lift the pubic bone (engage the illiopsoas). I have never ridden on my pockets nor with chair seat other than when I rode in a saddle that put me in a chair position.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby StraightForward » Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:22 am

I just went back and watched a little of this video: https://youtu.be/_2gPxPuiExs

In part, I'm not sure if this would work on a smaller horse, because she is essentially moving her balance point back a bit without disturbing the balance of the big, powerful horse she is riding. It might be problematic to move back on a smaller horse, or one that lacks the power to really lift your seat up easily. Riding with the leg a little more under makes it easier to shift the weight onto the thighs or into the stirrups a little as needed while working. I know she says the horse is carrying the weight either way, but perhaps she has not ridden a lot of smaller horses with weaker backs that really do get blocked more easily and benefit from changes in the weight distribution and lifting the seat bones a little.

I am with Moutaineer in the feeling of kneeling a bit in the saddle so there is bend in the leg, but the heel is right under the hip most of the time. I have a long thigh, so if I rode like CH on a smaller horse, I'd either have my toe poking the horse's shoulder or be back squishing its kidneys.
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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Chisamba » Thu Sep 06, 2018 10:18 am

In the canter seat thread I demonstrated why the CHS system does not help me or my horse. I personally prefer a lightly weighted stirrup and thigh that doesn't flop.

Honestly she is a beautiful slender rider but watching her live, the floppy thigh doest look like an asset. I do look the forward thinking hand and riding her horses out and about though.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Tsavo » Thu Sep 06, 2018 11:07 am

There is an incredible looseness to CH's riding that I greatly admire. Also, I think her skeletal riding is really just staying on with balance alone.

khall, I watched your videos from Spain when you posted them then and also that short clip with you and Cedar. When my stirrups were long like that it put me in a fork seat. I think if you raise the stirrups 2-3 holes you could sit up and your leg won't go too far back.

Recently in a lesson on the other horse I ride, the instructor took my stirrups up a hole. I think this puts more of a bend in my leg than I have in my saddle on my horse. This felt funny at first and still feels funny when I get on but I quickly adapt. It is somewhat easier to ride with a shorter stirrup but I would say it is not as easy to use weight as an aid compared to longer stirrups. And it is harder with short stirrups to back a horse with hamstrings.

I do like the shorter stirrup on the other horse because he is smaller and it sort of helps w.r.t. my leg fitting against his barrel.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Chisamba » Thu Sep 06, 2018 11:12 am

My niece is an endurance rider. She is lean, light and fit. She spends much of her ride in the stirrups.

Jumpers, eventers, jockeys, etc all spend time with all their weight in stirrups to free the horses back. It was a few generations ago that a lot of very successful riders worked out that you can free the back by using stirrups and thighs. I tend to agree with them , even for dressage.

Then I forgot to attach the picture lol.
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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby kande50 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 11:20 am

StraightForward wrote: I know she says the horse is carrying the weight either way, but perhaps she has not ridden a lot of smaller horses with weaker backs that really do get blocked more easily and benefit from changes in the weight distribution and lifting the seat bones a little.



I wonder though, if our position didn't affect the way we use our hands, if it would actually block the horse?

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Chisamba » Thu Sep 06, 2018 11:38 am

I thought it was the.most basic goal in riding to have hands independent of the seat.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby khall » Thu Sep 06, 2018 12:09 pm

Tsavo it is more about my pelvis than my legs. I hate riding with shorter stirrups and 2-3 holes would be a no go for me, need that leg on Rip for safety. I have a very mobile hip/pelvis/spine and need to keep the tone better with the illiopsoas to keep the pelvis correct and leg correct. It comes from being extremely flexible even in my 50's (I was a gymnast but of the type that was a gumby not competitive type). I can do down dog with my heels on the ground easily.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Chisamba » Thu Sep 06, 2018 12:15 pm

khall wrote:Tsavo it is more about my pelvis than my legs. I hate riding with shorter stirrups and 2-3 holes would be a no go for me, need that leg on Rip for safety. I have a very mobile hip/pelvis/spine and need to keep the tone better with the illiopsoas to keep the pelvis correct and leg correct. It comes from being extremely flexible even in my 50's (I was a gymnast but of the type that was a gumby not competitive type). I can do down dog with my heels on the ground easily.


one of my students is incredibly flexible and it takes her a lot more physical effort to maintain tone then us stiffer people. Like with horses it is possible to be too flexible, then they become harder to ride.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby StraightForward » Thu Sep 06, 2018 1:19 pm

kande50 wrote:
StraightForward wrote: I know she says the horse is carrying the weight either way, but perhaps she has not ridden a lot of smaller horses with weaker backs that really do get blocked more easily and benefit from changes in the weight distribution and lifting the seat bones a little.



I wonder though, if our position didn't affect the way we use our hands, if it would actually block the horse?


Can you elaborate? I've ridden on loose rein a lot (western) and still use a lighter seat on greener horses. If ability to influence the horse through the seat is an accepted tenet of dressage, it seems reasonable to conclude that the horse can also be blocked by too much use of seat for the strength/horse:rider size ratio/age of training of that horse.

Also, I had Jillian Kreinbring sit on me and I got to experience seatbones digging into my back. Not pleasant, but of course a saddle mutes that.
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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Josette » Thu Sep 06, 2018 2:17 pm

IMO - there are many individual factors that affect how each rider sits their horse. The obvious rider height, leg and torso proportions combined with horse conformation, height and barrel. Plus toss in the saddle fit and how it can enhance or handicap a rider's position and posture. I've also found for me too long stirrups cause me to tip forward.

I've watched the CHS video in the past and also admired her relaxation and balance. However, as Tsavo mentioned if I rode like that when my guy did a major spook I would be eating dirt. I am petite longer legs than torso which works very well on a small horse. If I ride a wide body and barrel horse then I am perched like a jockey. I do not feel like I have enough adequate leg length to feel secure or maybe give effective leg aids. Now on a wonderfully trained horse I can ride the wave as I do have excellent balance aside from some stiffness issues.

IMO- if I were placed on different horses that I would adjust my center of balance and position to each. I would center myself, sit erect, follow movement with hips and allow my legs to adjust and find their comfortable length along the horse's side. I expect I might look different in how my leg would drop down as directly under me or a bit forward.

Chisamba - your photos were very good and insightful. I also agree with your observations and conclusions - very interesting about your student who is very reflexable versus a stiffer rider. BTW - gorgeous photo of your niece.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby kande50 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:35 pm

StraightForward wrote:
Can you elaborate? I've ridden on loose rein a lot (western) and still use a lighter seat on greener horses. If ability to influence the horse through the seat is an accepted tenet of dressage, it seems reasonable to conclude that the horse can also be blocked by too much use of seat for the strength/horse:rider size ratio/age of training of that horse.


I think the seat/weight is more of a trained cue than a consequence, so the horse has to be trained using other reinforcers before the seat can be used to influence him in any significant way. And if that is so, then the response has to be maintained with other, more compelling consequences, or its effect will be minimal.

So what I'm thinking is that if one didn't not want to block their horse with their seat, then they wouldn't train the horse to respond to their seat cues in that way.

It would be different if the seat had a natural and significant blocking effect in the same way the bit does, but it doesn't seem to.

Also, I had Jillian Kreinbring sit on me and I got to experience seatbones digging into my back. Not pleasant, but of course a saddle mutes that.


I think everyone who rides a horse should get to experience what it's like to be ridden. Course we'd need some little 30lb robots, and bits that would work in human mouths, but I think it would be enlightening.

When I was learning how to clicker train we spent some time as the subject so that we could experience what it was like, and IMO, most of us needed to do a lot more of that than we did.
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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Hayburner » Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:38 pm

Following this thread - as I think I have my stirrups a bit too short - like 2 or 3 holes too short. A dressage instructor would make me lower them - but, for now I feel more secure with the shorter stirrup. A friend took a pic of me last week and right away I did notice that my leg was more forward than it should be. I wasn't shoulder/hip/heel aligned and my knee was fairly bent.

For now, Since we are still working on keeping us both relaxed it's not my biggest concern/focus. I will drop down one hole at a time and see if it helps my position while still maintaining a relaxed ride.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby tlkidding » Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:08 pm

Hayburner, not to pick on you specifically, but most of the people who's knees creep up and forward often have tight hip flexors and/or their stirrup bars and center of the seat of the saddle are not positioned well for their conformation.

I had almost 2 weeks out of the saddle dealing with my horse's cellulitis and I was working out at the gym a lot, with a number of spin/cycling classes (cycling and running only encourage tight hip flexors). I rode a friend's horse and had to ride with the stirrups 1 hole shorter than I thought I had last time. Then a few days later I got on my horse in my saddle and my stirrups felt way too long. Even just 2 weeks out of the saddle without stretching my hip flexors caused them to shorten/tighten. By the 3rd day in my saddle, my stirrups felt normal again.

So, if you feel safe, I think lowering the stirrups 1 hole and leaving them there for a week even if you keep dropping them might help you lengthen the front of your hips. If my hips feel tight, I also try to do a bunch of our walk warm up or the walk breaks without stirrups and let my legs dangle, even point my toes down here and there to release the hips and quads.

Also, I can't watch the videos at work, but Catherine H has previously stated she rides with saddles further forward (like over the shoulder) than is common now days. At the time I read that, she was using Stubben saddles and they worked for this.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby demi » Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:20 pm

Chisamba wrote:My niece is an endurance rider. She is lean, light and fit. She spends much of her ride in the stirrups.

......

Then I forgot to attach the picture lol.


What a great picture!! Thanks for sharing.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby demi » Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:24 pm

This is an interesting thread. I think this board is getting good at discussing stuff :) I can’t add anything right now because I’m obsessing over how to improve the canter seat :o :shock:

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Ryeissa » Thu Sep 06, 2018 5:24 pm

Shortned my stirrups, best thing I ever did for my riding. It changes how I use my thigh and core. I can go up or down from here depending on what I need to do, but this seems the best length. I ride with the inner rotation of the thigh idea, light foot, weight distributed btw thigh, and saddle area. Calf on horse lightly. Very stacked feeling in my ribcage and shoulders. Lots of "positive tone" as someone who always had a floppy wobbly middle this really helps.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Hayburner » Thu Sep 06, 2018 7:26 pm

Tlkidding. Thank you for your suggestion and the reason why my leg is not underneath me.

Suggestions for opening and releasing the hip flexors?

I sit at a desk all day and I don't workout or do yoga :roll:

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby tlkidding » Thu Sep 06, 2018 8:05 pm

Hayburner wrote:Tlkidding. Thank you for your suggestion and the reason why my leg is not underneath me.

Suggestions for opening and releasing the hip flexors?

I sit at a desk all day and I don't workout or do yoga :roll:


This one is my favorite:
Kneeling Stretch
Kneel with your left knee on the floor and your right leg at a 90-degree angle in front of you.
Put your hands on your right knee and keep your back straight.
Keeping your left knee pressed to the floor, lean forward into your right hip while squeezing the muscles in your left buttocks.
Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
For more stretch, you can put your right hand straight up in the air, and even more you can cross the right arm over your left thigh.

There are more at https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/ ... tretches#1.

Also, stretch your quads and do a figure-4 stretch for your glutes.

In the saddle, if you are wandering around without stirrups, grab one of your ankles and pull your heel up as close to your butt as you can. While there, rock forward on your pelvis to increase the stretch and think about sinking into the hip/quad on that side. You can also lean back a little bit for more stretch.

Unless a person rides multiple horses regularly, I think it's extremely beneficial to find a 15-30 minute online video or DVD for core exercises. Some of why we feel it necessary to pull our knees up is to make us feel more balanced or secure (we can use more of our knees and inner thighs to grip with the knees up). With a stronger core (which includes muscles from shoulders to knees), I feel way, way more stable and in control in the saddle. The judge Debbie Rodriguez had/has some exercise DVDs that were hugely helpful when I started working on my core.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby StraightForward » Thu Sep 06, 2018 8:49 pm

Ryeissa wrote:Shortned my stirrups, best thing I ever did for my riding. It changes how I use my thigh and core. I can go up or down from here depending on what I need to do, but this seems the best length. I ride with the inner rotation of the thigh idea, light foot, weight distributed btw thigh, and saddle area. Calf on horse lightly. Very stacked feeling in my ribcage and shoulders. Lots of "positive tone" as someone who always had a floppy wobbly middle this really helps.


Do you think you would ride this same stirrup length on a larger horse?
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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Ryeissa » Thu Sep 06, 2018 9:21 pm

StraightForward wrote:
Ryeissa wrote:Shortned my stirrups, best thing I ever did for my riding. It changes how I use my thigh and core. I can go up or down from here depending on what I need to do, but this seems the best length. I ride with the inner rotation of the thigh idea, light foot, weight distributed btw thigh, and saddle area. Calf on horse lightly. Very stacked feeling in my ribcage and shoulders. Lots of "positive tone" as someone who always had a floppy wobbly middle this really helps.


Do you think you would ride this same stirrup length on a larger horse?


Yeah. My friends have larger horses and do very well with this length.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Flight » Thu Sep 06, 2018 11:23 pm

That's not a dressage saddle though is it Ryeissa?
In my jumping saddle, I like my stirrups shorter (even for flat work) but I couldn't have them the same shortness in my dressage saddle as my knees would be over the front, or it would push my bum too far back.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby StraightForward » Fri Sep 07, 2018 12:58 am

Hayburner wrote:Tlkidding. Thank you for your suggestion and the reason why my leg is not underneath me.

Suggestions for opening and releasing the hip flexors?

I sit at a desk all day and I don't workout or do yoga :roll:


Myofascial release can help. Last winter I focused for a few weeks and it helped with my tendency for my right toe to stick out. A racquetball works really well for working the hip joints, and a bigger roller for the bigger muscles. If you can borrow a horse that you can ride in walk comfortably without stirrups, I find that there's not substitute for the motion of the walk to loosen the hips while stretching the leg down and back (be careful not to tense your glutes, and be prepared to come out of the stretch, as it can trigger muscle spasms in the hamstrings - ask me how I know). Runner's lunge can be helpful for opening the hip angle too.

Also, I think us desk jockeys tend to have very weakened psoas and glute muscles, which are very related to core and what the hips are doing.
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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby StraightForward » Fri Sep 07, 2018 1:04 am

Ryeissa wrote:
StraightForward wrote:
Ryeissa wrote:Shortned my stirrups, best thing I ever did for my riding. It changes how I use my thigh and core. I can go up or down from here depending on what I need to do, but this seems the best length. I ride with the inner rotation of the thigh idea, light foot, weight distributed btw thigh, and saddle area. Calf on horse lightly. Very stacked feeling in my ribcage and shoulders. Lots of "positive tone" as someone who always had a floppy wobbly middle this really helps.


Do you think you would ride this same stirrup length on a larger horse?


Yeah. My friends have larger horses and do very well with this length.


To put a finer point on the question - on a larger horse, would it be advantageous for dressage, to have the leg come as far down the barrel as yours is on Riot in that photo if it meant riding with less bend in the knee. I know lots of people ride large jumpers with short stirrups, but I was pondering the relationship of the horse's barrel size relative to the length of leg its ridden with for dressage specifically. As a long-legged rider, I've shortened my stirrups to better fit a smaller horse's barrel, but haven't ridden a large enough horse to experience the other side of the coin.
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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Ryeissa » Fri Sep 07, 2018 1:45 am

Definitely good points...Yes, but its the weight distribution and mechanics of the angles driving this length, although barrel shape is important to consider.

Riot is very light to my aids so I never noticed a difference with longer or shorter stirrups. He takes a wide tree and I find that makes him feel "bigger".

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby khall » Fri Sep 07, 2018 2:13 am

Let's just say if I rode with stirrups as short as Rye I would spend more time on the ground than riding Rip! I have to have longer legs to be safe on him. Even trying to raise them a hole feels unsafe. What I need to concentrate on is engaging my ileopsoas to raise the pubic bone and bring my knee forward a bit.

Was just thinking today after watching slow mo of horses cantering (a couple bareback) I need to pull Gallie out fit her up and ride her bareback. That brings my knees forward and boy I can feel it in my abs and glutes.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Tsavo » Fri Sep 07, 2018 2:54 am

I was thinking about the issue of weight distribution and CH. Here is the thing... I think whether you sit with no weight on thigh or foot, or you are standing in the stirrups, the saddle is distributing your weight over the entire contact area. I think the perception of weight distribution to the horse is going to be similar no mater what you do. This should be tested with a force pad under the saddle.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby StraightForward » Fri Sep 07, 2018 3:37 am

Tsavo wrote:I was thinking about the issue of weight distribution and CH. Here is the thing... I think whether you sit with no weight on thigh or foot, or you are standing in the stirrups, the saddle is distributing your weight over the entire contact area. I think the perception of weight distribution to the horse is going to be similar no mater what you do. This should be tested with a force pad under the saddle.


The weight is only on the panels; the flaps aren't weight-bearing. Ostensibly, some weight can be distributed onto that area by putting weight into the thigh. The tree is fairly narrow at that point. Also, the weight could be evenly distributed over the panels, or concentrated towards the front or back depending upon how the rider is sitting. The stirrup bars are at the front, so I would think most saddles would not be distributing much weight back towards the cantle if the rider is standing in the stirrups.
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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Tsavo » Fri Sep 07, 2018 11:05 am

StraightForward wrote:
Tsavo wrote:I was thinking about the issue of weight distribution and CH. Here is the thing... I think whether you sit with no weight on thigh or foot, or you are standing in the stirrups, the saddle is distributing your weight over the entire contact area. I think the perception of weight distribution to the horse is going to be similar no mater what you do. This should be tested with a force pad under the saddle.


The weight is only on the panels; the flaps aren't weight-bearing. Ostensibly, some weight can be distributed onto that area by putting weight into the thigh. The tree is fairly narrow at that point. Also, the weight could be evenly distributed over the panels, or concentrated towards the front or back depending upon how the rider is sitting. The stirrup bars are at the front, so I would think most saddles would not be distributing much weight back towards the cantle if the rider is standing in the stirrups.


Those are interesting points. I think it has to be measured to really know what is going on.

I can tell you there is no amount of sitting "heavy" (but within the wave) that my horse notices. On this other horse I ride, a smallish TB, there is no amount of weight I can muster that will affect his sit trot. I consider that a point for Haddad. The horse is carrying your entire weight and it may be easier when it is concentrated on the panels. Who knows.
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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby piedmontfields » Fri Sep 07, 2018 1:47 pm

With age and joint degeneration from disease, I have had to shorten my stirrups. Ankle elasticity plays a role here, too (mine are worse than they were 5 years ago).

That said, I do use the guidance Haddad teaches (and was taught that guidance by many folks over the years) for finding/checking my seat: Pull knees forward and up until I balance and sit on sitbones only ( I find it pretty easy to w-t-c that way, too). Then I let the leg drop down and *bend the knee*. This puts my heel pretty much in alignment. When I feel wonky in the seat, I take off my thighs and bend my knee. It fixes a lot of things for me.

HafD, FYI, I have a long upper torso for my relatively short height.

BTW, Haddad pointed out in one video that this method is an easy way to get to a toes forward position (rather than trying to rotate the whole leg inward).

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Ryeissa » Fri Sep 07, 2018 4:26 pm

piedmontfields wrote:BTW, Haddad pointed out in one video that this method is an easy way to get to a toes forward position (rather than trying to rotate the whole leg inward).


but this inward rotation for me was why I could ride much better and one of the key reasons I have more angle.

Why do you want to skimp on that? It influences everything, it made everything else I was striving for possible.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby piedmontfields » Fri Sep 07, 2018 4:44 pm

Haddad's point was that if you do this maneuver, you *will* achieve a nicely hanging, toes forward leg that lies on the saddle. It doesn't need to be a forced act to get there.

I never found it that challenging to align my leg this way, but for people with a lot of turnout in their hips, it can be painful/forceful to try to achieve this position by doing the "toes in and pull the inner thigh back" maneuver. And it is easy for them to lose their sitbones in the process.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Ryeissa » Fri Sep 07, 2018 4:57 pm

piedmontfields wrote:Haddad's point was that if you do this maneuver, you *will* achieve a nicely hanging, toes forward leg that lies on the saddle. It doesn't need to be a forced act to get there.

I never found it that challenging to align my leg this way, but for people with a lot of turnout in their hips, it can be painful/forceful to try to achieve this position by doing the "toes in and pull the inner thigh back" maneuver. And it is easy for them to lose their sitbones in the process.


I don't do the "pull the inner thights back" idea, or force it. I just move the bones - this is more about the femur than the muscle . it is not gripping. I don't see how moving the foot achieves this, but I guess as long as it has the same end result who cares?

In the correct thigh position the thighs are rotated inward from the hip joint

Thighs away from the saddle, is a concept which I find completely alien to my way of looking at riding. To me it makes no sense in physics, makes no sense to the horse and essentially renders you dependent on the reins for any kind of balance. It also puts all the weight in your seatbones or in the stirrups!

Perhaps it was an overreaction to 'gripping with the knee' which used to be taught a long while back?

The rider should be correctly aligned, should have a neutral spine.
The rider should be responsible for their own weight in the saddle.
The rider should provide enough tone to match the forces generated by the horse.
Now lets imagine taking your thighs away from the saddle, in combination with the other myth of 'Relax'...
WHAT WOULD BE THE CONSEQUENCES?

All your weight in now down in your seatbones pressing down into the horses back. You are supposed to balance on the single point of your underneath as the horse jumps from one step to the next. This ignores basic physics… it can’t be done, balance or not
OR Your weight ends up into your stirrups which swings your leg forwards, pushes your seat backwards and upwards, which can then pitch you forwards. Weight in stirrups is the opposite of sitting deep – Newton’s third law of motion.
Your attempts to ask your horse to be supple and relaxed over the back don’t work because all your weight is down the hollow of the horse back on your seatbones.
When the horse accelerates forwards, as he jumps from one leg to another, you fall backwards due to the forces and basically have to use the reins to support.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Chisamba » Fri Sep 07, 2018 11:51 pm

Tsavo wrote:I was thinking about the issue of weight distribution and CH. Here is the thing... I think whether you sit with no weight on thigh or foot, or you are standing in the stirrups, the saddle is distributing your weight over the entire contact area. I think the perception of weight distribution to the horse is going to be similar no mater what you do. This should be tested with a force pad under the saddle.


Dont you claim to be scientific?

Ok so let's not put a saddle on at all. Lift your seat off the horse completely while bare back. Have you changed the weight bearing? Ok then the same can happen with a saddle.

Second aspect of SCIENCE. Why does a thumb tack work?. Because the smaller the area carrying a force, the higher the pressure.

Therefore weight from the entire thigh on a surface is less pressure than the same weight only on seat bones.

Let's be even.more simple. Would you choose stilettos or snow shoes to walk on snow.

If ice is thin and you ate crossing a pond do you stand up or lay down, I mean the ice has to carry your weight anyway.
Last edited by Chisamba on Sat Sep 08, 2018 12:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Tsavo » Sat Sep 08, 2018 12:16 am

Where is the weight on the horse when standing in the stirrups?

Where is the weight on the horse when riding legs away?

I think the answer to both is all along the panels.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby musical comedy » Sat Sep 08, 2018 12:44 am

Dr. Hillary Clayton has done studies on this using pressure mats. This article may answer some questions, and then, maybe it will generate more questions.
https://equusmagazine.com/riding/postin ... rses-30159

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby HafDressage » Sat Sep 08, 2018 3:26 am

Thanks for all the responses everyone! Very interesting discussion thus far. The more I reflect on this, the more I really think that this more forward leg could work for some body types, but not others. I'm tallish 5'8" and while I have plenty long legs, I also have a decent length torso and very strong back. For me, the second my legs get in front, my back takes over and I get behind. BUT when I think about riders with shorter legs and a shorter torso (perhaps like Debbie McDonald), I definitely think that a little more forward leg makes sense and that doing so doesn't seem to throw their upper body behind the motion.

It is interesting to think about how most trainers do tend to teach one position style despite the really massive differences in body types. I'm sure there are some out there that adapt more than others.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Tsavo » Sat Sep 08, 2018 3:36 am

musical comedy wrote:Dr. Hillary Clayton has done studies on this using pressure mats. This article may answer some questions, and then, maybe it will generate more questions.
https://equusmagazine.com/riding/postin ... rses-30159


Well that was interesting. Have to think about it.

Thanks for posting it. No pun intended. :-)

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Tsavo » Sat Sep 08, 2018 11:15 am

Okay here's my opinion on that piece. First it is not the article so I would have to pull that to see the methods section.

Second, she is just discussing force in the time domain. She did not discuss force in the spatial domain which was the crux of my exchange with Chisamba. Either her force pad under the saddle only registers one number or the multiple sensors all read the same at any given second for all those experimental situations.

In my opinion, saddles prevent any directed force on small areas. That is their purpose. Horses respond to changes in force like HHs, and changes in weight distribution like more weight on the left panel than the right. Front to back changes not so much because we should always be sitting in the correct spot in the saddle.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Tsavo » Sat Sep 08, 2018 11:24 am

Okay she is abstracting other articles. She also says...

Saddle pressure mats measure the force applied to the horse’s back and the pressure distribution pattern.


So some of these articles DID look at pressure distribution (assuming by"distribution" she means in space). Yet she doesn't talk about that at all in her summary. So either those studies did not measure any difference in distribution under different scenarios or she didn't think the work was good and worth mentioning.

Or by "distribution" she just means in time. So maybe nobody published on spacial distribution. If so it is probably not for lack of trying but rather lack of (clean) results.

Or she didn't think the spatial distribution results were relevant to the question being asked.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Tsavo » Sat Sep 08, 2018 11:55 am

Apparently reindeer furs pads are best... LOL

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20156245

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby demi » Sat Sep 08, 2018 11:56 am

HafDressage wrote:Thanks for all the responses everyone! Very interesting discussion thus far. The more I reflect on this, the more I really think that this more forward leg could work for some body types, but not others. I'm tallish 5'8" and while I have plenty long legs, I also have a decent length torso and very strong back. For me, the second my legs get in front, my back takes over and I get behind. BUT when I think about riders with shorter legs and a shorter torso (perhaps like Debbie McDonald), I definitely think that a little more forward leg makes sense and that doing so doesn't seem to throw their upper body behind the motion.

It is interesting to think about how most trainers do tend to teach one position style despite the really massive differences in body types. I'm sure there are some out there that adapt more than others.


I’ve been following this discussion, reading all the posts, and thinking about it. I really think it’s as simple as HafDressage states above. What works for some might not work for others. Additionally, I think that the shape and size of the horse can make a difference, as some have already pointed out in the thread.

HD’s last sentence above, I also find very interesting. I have come across many trainers that teach one style as “the way”. I am skeptical of them.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby musical comedy » Sat Sep 08, 2018 12:43 pm

Tsavo wrote:Apparently reindeer furs pads are best... LOL
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20156245
Reindeer fur is Sheepskin which is used a lot. I can't and won't argue with the results of the study, but I personally feel that thicker (sheepskin) pads change the fit of a saddle. Also, the thicker the stuff we put under a saddle, the more unstable it becomes. That has been my experience, specifically with the mattes pads which I really dislike.

In any case, I don't see what this has to do with the topic, leg position. Since you brought it up though, based on pressure studies, wouldn't it make sense that the heavier the rider's weight, the more impact on the back? Doesn't it dispute the common thinking that heavy riders can be light riders.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Chisamba » Sat Sep 08, 2018 1:10 pm

Tsavo did not respond to my specific observation that without a saddle one can lift the weight off the horses back completely by closing the thighs. There is a way to lighten the seat that excludes saddle panels or stirrups.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Ryeissa » Sat Sep 08, 2018 2:14 pm

Tsavo wrote:Where is the weight on the horse when standing in the stirrups?

Where is the weight on the horse when riding legs away?

I think the answer to both is all along the panels.


For 1: in ankles
For 2: in seatbones if not careful

This is why I purposely DO NOT put weight in my ankle and foot. It changes how my seat functions.
This is just what works for me. I strive to have my weight along any point that touches the saddle and not have "hot spots" such as my seat bones. When I did not know better and used my seat bones more to drive my horse simply didn't raise his back, it wasn't plesant.
For me, when I carry myself, my horse can carry more. It's a weird thing where I equally suck into but also out of the saddle, the net result is the "suction" feeling.

My point is that muscles need to be activated or deactiavated in order to allow equal drape around the horse, any pinching in the wrong area just takes the seat away from the horse.

Knowing anatomy and how muscles contract in the psoas areas really has helped me, but I still of course am sorting this out.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Ryeissa » Sat Sep 08, 2018 2:20 pm

demi wrote: I really think it’s as simple as HafDressage states above. What works for some might not work for others. Additionally, I think that the shape and size of the horse can make a difference, as some have already pointed out in the thread.

HD’s last sentence above, I also find very interesting. I have come across many trainers that teach one style as “the way”. I am skeptical of them.



No, I disagree, I have seen these things work with a number of different types of riders and horses. Bearing in mind that yes, there is a style of horse that is easier or harder for me to ride....

Fundamantally.

Horses have the same ribs, thorasic sling and back muscles as one another, riders all have thighs, core, and the same anatomy.
'However, my lesson might look different than my friend with a huge warmblood as to how we address unique challenges. Ie' how we unlock this stuff.

This was very important to me, there is a CLEAR SYSTEM to this, and as we know it's very critical to understand basics and how to preserve relaxation and balance. This was refreshing. But yeah, I see your point, there are some differences when you get to the fringe questions.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Tsavo » Sat Sep 08, 2018 3:48 pm

Chisamba wrote:Tsavo did not respond to my specific observation that without a saddle one can lift the weight off the horses back completely by closing the thighs. There is a way to lighten the seat that excludes saddle panels or stirrups.


I do think you can have all your weight on the thighs with none in the stirrup or seat. In that case I think the weight is on the flaps? But that amount of gripping with thighs would immediately put my horse in acculment and he would probably refuse to move forward.

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Re: Musings on leg position

Postby Tsavo » Sat Sep 08, 2018 3:48 pm

Ryeissa wrote:
Tsavo wrote:Where is the weight on the horse when standing in the stirrups?

Where is the weight on the horse when riding legs away?

I think the answer to both is all along the panels.


For 1: in ankles
For 2: in seatbones if not careful


I asked where the weight is ON THE HORSE not in the rider.


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