Riding position problems, please help!

Hollypops

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Jan 23, 2017
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I have the most terrible position where from the side I look okay but viewed from the front my legs stick right out from the knee down so the stirrup irons are nowhere near the sides of the horse. I’ve been told it’s because my thighs need to be rolled in but I’ve really had a look at myself today and most of my thighs and my knees are not in contact with the saddle at all. I’ve been riding for years and am very secure in the saddle, but it looks horrendous. What am I doing wrong?
 

carthorse

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Jan 6, 2006
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Are you tight through your hips, or bracing against the stirrups because you're trying to push your heel down? What happens if you ride without stirrups?
 

Hollypops

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Jan 23, 2017
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I don’t think I’m bracing in the stirrups, my feet are almost level with heel only slightly down. If I ride without stirrups my legs go pretty much straight down. I experimented a bit today and to make my thigh lay flat on the saddle my bum is out of the saddle and I’m leaning forward. To bring the stirrup irons close to the horse makes me lift my thighs and knees even further away from the saddle. Im so confused.
 

carthorse

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Some pictures would be useful, as it could be many things and not all of them completely due to your position. Do you have this problem on every horse you ride? If not what is different about the horses you don't have a problem with?
 

Hollypops

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Jan 23, 2017
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Yes, I’m like this on every horse and in different saddles too so I’m sure it must be me :(
I don’t have many pics as I’m too embarrassed to let people watch me ride but I have a couple of examples
 

carthorse

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Looking at those I would wonder if you're tight through your hips. Try sitting on your horse and holding your whole leg away and then letting it gentle ease back down and see if that helps - initially the stretch won't help for long but it will give you an idea if that's the problem. Doing plenty of stretches for hips and inner thigh before you get on may help too, and is something you can do between rides. I can't really tell from the angle of the photos but I also have a feeling your leg isn't underneath you - if your horse vanished would you be on your feet and stay on them, or would you topple back? Maybe try shortening your stirrup a hole and bringing your knee back and your hips forward - try it sat on a stool and you should get the feel of what I mean. Physically you do look quite long in the thigh and I'm not sure any of those saddles are helping you as the blocks look to be in the wrong place.
 

carthorse

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That side on shot looks like you're narrow through your hips/pelvis, probably because of your build. I'm not good at the names of human muscle groups, but my guess is you need to work on whichever ones allow you to open your pelvis up more and that loosen your inner thigh, that will let your leg drape more and let your knee relax and come back a bit. At the moment while you have a shoulder - hip - ankle alignment it all looks rather forced and tense which means it won't hold when the horse moves. I want to say relax, but as soon as anyone is told that they tense up even more! Have a stiff drink or two and a giggle? You just look as though you're trying so hard to get it right that you're blocking yourself, so you try harder which makes you tighter etc etc etc. Maybe forget about being right for a little while and concentrate on having fun, if that allows to to relax and soften you may find some/a lot of it corrects itself. And sideways on I definitely think the saddle isn't helping - if you shorten your stirrup you'll be over the flap and even as it is you're being pushed to the back of the saddle while your knee is being lifted away from where you'd like it. I know I said before about trying to shorten your stirrup a hole, but looking from this angle you can't do that in this saddle, and indeed if you have the stability may be better trying to lengthen them to get your knee off the knee roll. But above all else try to stop trying!
 
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Hollypops

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Thank you so much! I really appreciate the time you have taken to reply. I will definitely try your suggestions, especially the drink :)
 

Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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All great ideas there, perhaps riding without stirrups will help get the right muscle working for you rather than against.

It probably won’t be so profound for you as your slim, but I was having my position analysed by a pro and they had me lift my thigh away from the saddle then gently using hands move the soft tissue of my leg (right leg anti clockwise, left leg clockwise) and put the thigh back against the saddle, it made an incredible difference to my knees and toes being better aligned. It’s not a cure but it helps build feel and muscle memory if repeated frequently for a little while.
 

Jane&Ziggy

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Well done you for wanting to improve your position. It makes so much difference to your horse. You already look really good, you sit beautifully straight and your head, hip, knee and ankle are aligned, which is a very good start! I wonder if dropping your stirrups a hole or two might help, but perhaps you are jumping - I don't know much about that.

I've always found a good instructor priceless for observation and helping correct my many many flaws. A good freelance instructor wouldn't mind coming to you for one session to start with. Or you could ask someone to analyse your position and your horse's action: sometimes you find that the horse has a glitch which throws you out.
 
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Skib

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Jane had an RI with an entirely different approach to mine.
I am secure in the saddle - That was my RI's primary goal. It doesnt matter what one looks like.
Our RI wanted our legs relaxed and our feet and our toes. But our weight on our seat.
Your pic looks as if the weight is going into your legs?
I like to ride with no stirrups or bare back and if you feel pushed into place I guess I would let the stirrups down. A senior BHS instructor visited the RS where I was learning to ride (in old age) and told the staff to let down my stirrups.
It is far harder to rise to trot if one's stirrups are short. and at a demo I went to before Covid Tik Maynard said one's legs should drape the side of the horse in forward seat with a contact like a wet T shirt.
 
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