Posted by: ivyschex | January 21, 2012

Diary Post with Video

January 21, 2011

I have not ridden a week or so (sorry, Jackson!), but the weather was nice and the new fallen snow beckoned. I saddled him up (so I could do rising trot) and I warmed him up at the walk and by free lunging in the round pen.

I worked on getting him to lower his head, but he was very distractible. The snowmobiles were going past a lot, my dad was plowing the driveway, and my brother was right there moving some round pen panels, Jackson kept putting his head up.

My goal was just to work on lower his head and engaging the hind end. I have no idea what he was doing, but his trot was very big at times. Hopefully, you guys can watch the video and give me your thoughts. It did give me time to work on slowing the “up” of the rising trot (like I read in Heather’s book). I think I started to get the idea, but my posting still looks horrible! I think my stirrups were too short. I also tried Heather’s idea of closing the buttocks and thighs for downward transitions.

I tried to keep Jackson from going too fast, but he just got so BIG in the trot that it was all I could do to try to post softly (which I failed at a lot of the time).



  1. Your horse, Jackson, has given you a lovely, more engaged trot due to the deep snow. He looked great. There is no problem with your horse here. What has caused him to not be relaxed through the back which allows the head to be soft through the poll, is the unbalanced rider. Ivy, you are correct when you thought it has to do with your legs. First, I am not sure if the saddle is doing this to you or if you are doing this to yourself. What is causing the imbalance is your lower leg, your foot is waaaaaay too far back. The proper alignment is heel under hip, hip under shoulder. At times your heels are even behind the cantle AND the saddle pad! Personally, I do not know how you keep from falling forward over his neck. …..Try this exercise, if possible in front of a mirror: Have your horse just stand while you just relax in the saddle. First without and then, with your stirrups. Lift up your toes and slowly inch your leg forward until your foot approaches his shoulder and beyond. While you do this, notice your seat. What is happening as you move your foot forward? Yes, instead of being on your seat bones you are more on the back of your bum – this is called the ‘chair seat’ and is improper balance. One can pop out of the saddle very easily. Now slowly move your leg back down. At one point you are going to feel very deep and very secure in your saddle. This is the point where you want to keep your leg. If you had a mirror, you would notice your foot would be by the girth, perhaps even covering the girth so you cannot see it from the side view. Now slowly bring your lower leg and foot back, keep going. Do you feel yourself being tipped forward? In the film your lower foot was behind the back part of your saddle pad at times. If while your horse was moving and stopped suddenly, gravity would cause you to fall forward onto his neck. Bring your lower leg back again to the ‘center’ underneath you. Search for the deepest part of sitting in the saddle. Even without a mirror you can feel this. ** If your saddle does not allow you to stay in this position without trying, then finding a saddle that allows your leg to be in the correct position all of the time, would be the way to go. Why fight the saddle? *** It looks like your stirrups are the correct length, but this is how YOU can tell if they are or not and you can adjust them accordingly. While sitting in your new deep position, drop your stirrups. Where does the bottom part of the stirrup iron hit your foot? Basically, all you want to do to put that stirrup back on your foot is to lift your toe and they are on. IF you have to lift your leg up, then they are too short. *** Again, the real problem is where your leg is while you ride. *** Now for your horse….If you ride your horse with your own weight forward over his shoulder, where is this horse’s weight going to be? On his shoulder or on the forehand. If you are in a race, this is perfect. If you want the horse to raise his back and put his weight over his rear end, in other words ride ‘dressage,’ where would the rider’s weight need to be? Balanced in the middle. Not falling backward or falling forward. Your horse will learn to balance you, the rider, when you train yourself to be balanced, not falling forward, and steady in the saddle. Then the horse will be able to use his shoulders, with a more upright neck and relaxed at the jaw and poll with his head. Remember, the poll always needs to be the highest point of his entire head and neck carriage. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Audrey at I am a lifetime member of the USDF and teach and train dressage using natural horsemanship. BTW, you are a lovely rider, Ivy, and I think you have great potential to do more with your horse than you could ever dream of!

  2. Ivy, one more thing you can do to help yourself. The above ‘lesson’ is one that I teach all of my riders. Some of my students have been able to get their leg in position better by tying the stirrup iron to the girth with a piece of baling twine or a facsimile thereof. Not too tight but with the purpose of not allowing your stirrup to move backwards. So the length of the tie strap would be a matter of inches, maybe like 6 inches away from the girth? If someone can assist you, so much the better. You sit in the saddle (at that deepest point you found) with your foot in the stirrup and have the strap tied from your stirrup iron to the girth so that your foot does not move. Meaning, you are allowed to keep this ‘balanced seat in your stirrup’ but once your leg starts to want to go backward, the strap will not allow your stirrup to move very much. As for safety, as long as your foot can come out of the stirrup if you were to fall off or if the strap could break easily so you would not be dragged. We never had a problem there, but safety is always thinking it might happen! Nevertheless, try riding this way. First, walking and then trotting. Get yourself used to this ‘new position’ before cantering. It may take months so please give yourself time. The video you posted is your baseline. Take another video with the strap and view the two videos together. Watch yourself first…then compare your horse and how his body is moving. Once you feel confident that you can ride without the strap, try it. One can always put it back on again. It is a matter of training your body, muscles, and entire structure to ride in a new and different manner. I believe your horse will like the new ‘you.’ Later, you can teach yourself to only move one leg at a time a little forward or backward (for canter departs and later, tempi changes), without moving your upper body, position or balance. Right now, you need to start at the beginning, getting yourself sitting quietly right in the middle, balanced in the deepest point. – Audrey Kohlmann

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