Listings for 17 Lovedahl Trophy

Related 17 Lovedahl Trophy information

H/J'er in a former life, now how do I make my legs long for this dressage thing?

WSQHG*l said: Being rather short, I don't have much leg to work with, and coming from a hunter/jumper background, I sure do love my stirrups short...but I really want to figure this whole dressage thing out! In my last lesson, my dressage teacher was really starting to pick out faults in my equitation (... I used this term loosely). Where I feel I am suffering most right now is in my leg position. Anyone have any tips/exercises that will help me 1) drop my knee (this is my biggest problem), 2) learn to drape my legs more w/o pinching with my knee, 3) help me open/position my hips correctly to enable a better leg position? :confused: Thank you!

M*lyni said: at walk at first, and practice leg yielding etc. Later add in short trots, and work up to canters. But walk as much as you can with no stirrups, that'll get your leg long. MW

WSQHG*l said: Melyni, thank you for the reply. I have been riding as much as I can without stirrups, or at least as much as my horse will tolerate, but I find that when I pick my stirrups up again, I feel like my hips revert back to the same, incorrect position. What is a good guild for how long my stirrups should be for dressage?

Th* Centaurian said: To open your hips, do a couple of quick "legs away" while you are warming up. Pull both legs out to the sides, then let them close softly against the saddle again. Repeat as needed. To open your thighs, do a mounted quad stretch. Grab your right ankle with your right hand and point your knee straight down. Gently lower that leg and repeat on the opposite side. Pilates, yoga, or ballet could help if you have tight hip flexors keeping your knees from dropping.

m*rrygoround said: Put a mental image in your head of sitting on the horse but kneeling. Have your instructor check that this puts your heels under your hips. This should allow your knee to drop down and open the angle at your hips. But do remember that those muscles tendons and ligaments have been short for a long time, so not only will they be unwilling to stretch, but they will tell you that your new correct position is totally incorrect.:lol: So focus on dropping your knee and allowing the weight to drop through it. It can't go through if you're pinching your knees. ;) I'm hoping you are doing this in a dressage saddle. Doing it a jumping saddle is harder because of the relationship of the bars to the seat. Making your shoulders stay back is another part of the equation :) It's many short battles, but a great war. :lol:

WSQHG*l said: Pilates, yoga, or ballet could help if you have tight hip flexors keeping your knees from dropping. Going to a hot yoga class tonight!! :D Thank you for the suggestions

WSQHG*l said: I'm hoping you are doing this in a dressage saddle. Doing it a jumping saddle is harder because of the relationship of the bars to the seat. I am riding in a dressage saddle...much to my own discomfort:lol: As you stated, my teacher also tells me I should always feel like I'm kneeling. Thank you!

n*meolvides said: Melyni, thank you for the reply. I have been riding as much as I can without stirrups, or at least as much as my horse will tolerate, but I find that when I pick my stirrups up again, I feel like my hips revert back to the same, incorrect position. What is a good guild for how long my stirrups should be for dressage? I was always told that your stirrups should be at the height of the ankle bone, if you were to hang your legs loosely. I have the same problem as you- what feels like normal to me, almost looks like jockey to length to onlookers ;)

WSQHG*l said: I was always told that your stirrups should be at the height of the ankle bone, if you were to hang your legs loosely This is how I learned to measure my stirrups for H/J, but it doesn't seem logical to me that it would be the same rule of thumb for dressage? :confused:

r*mbobarbie said: I too came from a H/J background and the biggest problem I had was stretching my legs long and staying tall and back with my upper body in the saddle. IMO, the biggest obstacle is getting your body to retrain itself to open up your hip angle from your thigh to base - I'll bet you find it easy to stay tall when your legs are forward and stretch the leg longer when you are leaning slightly forward. My best advice is to concentrate on getting your upper thigh back and leaning WAY back in the saddle (exaggerate it - it's so much easier to come forward with the upper body if you overdo it than vice versa) and forget about everything else. If your hip area seizes up from time to time, you are probably on the right track. At the walk, try locking your knee in place and slowly moving your entire leg (with knee locked) back as far under your body as you can all the while thinking LEAN BACK. Once you take your stirrups back up, they'll feel at least a hole shorter! Riding without stirrups wasn't particularly helpful for me to correct my position because I spent a lot of time that way when I rode H/J and I still had a drawn up leg! Good luck, I've never looked back!

WSQHG*l said: I'll bet you find it easy to stay tall when your legs are forward and stretch the leg longer when you are leaning slightly forward. Ding, Ding! You hit the nail on the head with that one. :lol: Thank you, thank you. Great suggestions!

c*rrie_girl said: I think the whole kneeling feel is a good one. I also think that doing some scissor kicks at the walk while warming up help me to really find my seatbones while stretching out my hip flexors and allowing my leg to drape. (If you don't know what they are-- drop irons, then moving only from the hip-- keeping knees straight, extend one leg forward while at the same time extending the other leg back. Then slowly move the back leg forward and vice versa. The trick is to make sure you are only swinging your legs through the hip joints, NOT the knee)

hb said: Go to a dude ranch and spend 3 or 4 days doing at least 4 hours a day of trail riding in a western saddle with the stirrups at the length the cowboys set them (which feels SO long, even if you're used to riding dressage length). I've gone on a couple of long weekends to a dude ranch with some not as horsey friends, and always come home feeling so much deeper in my seat and longer in the leg. Of course a couple of weeks sitting in an office 8 hours a day takes away much of the benefit, but some stays.

*sterix said: lots of good advice! Give it time, too -- I remember starting in dressage from a H/J background and finding my saddle too straight in the flap (it was an adjustable saddle, so the "dressage" flap was sort of kind of dressagey); my knee kept migrating forward. Eventually I had to sell that saddle because it was too forward for me in the dressage position..... The "quad stretch" exercise described by Centurian is great. See if you can get some longe lessons from a dressage instructor; I learned to sit the trot properly this way, starting with holding one ankle at a time behind my butt as the horse trotted around. It's HARD and you can help it along as others have said with your gym stretches and workouts. Ultimately you WILL feel as though you are kneeling and very soft through your legs. As an eventer I can tell you that this will in no way diminish your ability to ride in a proper jumping saddle with proper jumping length stirrups and jump a course.... it's just a different set of tools!

Gry2Yng said: at walk at first, and practice leg yielding etc. Later add in short trots, and work up to canters. But walk as much as you can with no stirrups, that'll get your leg long. MW This is hard when you are an h/j gal. We seem to revert right back to the closed knee angle. I would add to this, walk without stirrups with your toes pointed DOWN and do toe circles. Have someone watch you and remind you to "stop equitating", meaning, let the thighs RELAX. I teach mostly h/j but ride dressage myself. I have my students walk this way between all trot and canter sets and tell them that the goal is to ride with balance and not strength. Meaning I don't want to see any muscle tension. I want all the energy to drain out the toes, to let their leg drape. They should staying in the tack with their balance, moving their seat with their horse. They seem to like it and it enlongates their leg. I also find it helps them feel the rhythm of the walk and develop a softer contact. Best of luck. Dressage is fun.

n*tg said: This is hard when you are an h/j gal. We seem to revert right back to the closed knee angle. I would add to this, walk without stirrups with your toes pointed DOWN and do toe circles. Have someone watch you and remind you to "stop equitating", meaning, let the thighs RELAX. I teach mostly h/j but ride dressage myself. I have my students walk this way between all trot and canter sets and tell them that the goal is to ride with balance and not strength. Meaning I don't want to see any muscle tension. I want all the energy to drain out the toes, to let their leg drape. They should staying in the tack with their balance, moving their seat with their horse. They seem to like it and it enlongates their leg. I also find it helps them feel the rhythm of the walk and develop a softer contact. Best of luck. Dressage is fun. This. No stirrups and toes pointed down gets the stretch going that being used to h/j eq without stirrups doesn't. Think about having the inside of your thighs on the horse (a good fix for leg problems in most disciplines, but in dressage thinking this while stretching down is a completely different beast from h/j), and think about pushing your hip sockets forward. That funny runway walk models do where they seem to be leading with their pelvis? That's how you want to sit on your horse! Your legs will tell you where your stirrups belong. Don't think you have to go to a "correct" length right away. Work on stretching yourself, and keep your stirrups just short enough that you can manage to post without pointing your toes, and can keep some weight in your stirrups and keep them on your feet. Try to train yourself not to think "heels down!" because if you do you will never get the softness in your ankles you need - and will have the stirrups the wrong length for you and your build. Your final stirrup length will depends on how much your hips stretch, and how you use your seat. My upper legs are positioned almost as if I were standing after 6 months of work on getting to a dressage stirrup length (as a former h/j rider in my last equestrian career), and that's what is comfortable when my seat is deep in the saddle. Shorter makes me feel as if my legs are pushing me out of the saddle. Posting trot is a challenge, and if my horse lifts his back I almost HAVE to sit because I don't fully clear the saddle. This isn't a right/wrong length, though - it's just what my body tells me is right for my riding.

*rishWillow said: No stirrup work. :) If you dont have the leg for anything more than a halt or walk, no worries. Get on your horse, cross those stirrups at the halt, and just let your leg hang. Dont worry about heels down or proper eq, just let your legs go. Really concentrate on relaxing from the hip. If this is a difficult concept for you, break the legs into parts.. wiggle your toes and ankle, then let them drop. Pull your knees/thighs on/off the saddle so you can feel your hip let go. Push your leg back from the hip in an exaggerated fashion (remember, we're just halted here!) and swing it back from the hip up in the direction of your horse's croup. Then walk around a bit, letting your leg hang from the ball of the hip. This is a good "before lesson" habit to get into anyway. Before your lesson, go thru this routine and stretch your legs and hips out. Its also helpful to start your no stirrups trot work on the lunge. And, dont pressure yourself to go from "jumping length" to dressage length stirrups in one day. Work a hole lower than you're accustomed to, until that feels second nature. Then drop another hole. And so on

g*eslikestink said: Being rather short, I don't have much leg to work with, and coming from a hunter/jumper background, I sure do love my stirrups short...but I really want to figure this whole dressage thing out! In my last lesson, my dressage teacher was really starting to pick out faults in my equitation (... I used this term loosely). Where I feel I am suffering most right now is in my leg position. Anyone have any tips/exercises that will help me 1) drop my knee (this is my biggest problem), 2) learn to drape my legs more w/o pinching with my knee, 3) help me open/position my hips correctly to enable a better leg position? :confused: Thank you! ride and exercise without stirrups which will make you sit deeper into your saddle look here last page for ideas and tips for simple exercises you can do with your horse http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?t=178116

WSQHG*l said: Thank you everyone!! Great suggestions! I will try them all! :D:winkgrin:

s*zy said: The crux of your problem is not your legs, it is your seat. The legs are merely a reflection on how you are sitting. Be sure that you are balanced evenly on the three points of your seat: your pubic bone and your two seat bones. Once you have done this, make sure your upper body is on (not in front of or behind) the vertical. From there, relax your hips and let your legs drop straight down. I would urge you NOT to ride without stirrups. Riding without stirrups (esp. rising trot) tends to make riders pinch with their knees, which shortens the leg, causes the rider to close her hips, and puts the rider in a chair seat. You want to open your hips, feel all three seat bones, and drop your legs down. Get out of your chair for a minute and try this: stand absolutely straight with your feet a shoulder's width apart. Then put your hands in front of you as though you are holding the reins and bend your knees as though your feet are in the stirrups. If you are properly aligned, you will be able to stand like that almost indefinitely. This is the position you want to have in the saddle. It shows that you are correctly balanced. When you are correctly balanced, you will be more effective in the saddle and able to help rather than hinder the horse's balance. If you can take longe lessons on a quiet horse in which you can focus all of your attention on your position, you will be able to improve your seat and, consequently, your leg position much more quickly and effectively.

P*rfect Pony said: Lunge line lessons 1-2 times a week with a person really good at helping you work on your dressage seat! Seriously, you need to be able to concentrate, and drop your reins and really find your balance in the new position without worrying about anything else. Even Debbie McDonald says she spent hours and hours on the lungeline when trying to change her position. IMO it's the only thing that really works, and it works much more quickly.

M*gsabelle said: I am in the same exact boat as you! I have short, thick thighs and rode H/J (emphasis on the H) for 20+ years and love to ride with a super-closed hip angle with my toes turned out and my feet up on the dashboard in a light seat. There is a lot of great advice in this thread, and will say that I had an excellent lesson with nearly perfect leg position (well, as near-perfect as my flawed conformation will allow me, ha) 2 weeks ago. I think what made the difference is that the day before, I took my TB mare out for a hack up and down a hilly dirt road. I noticed that my stirrups felt...different...but since I was on and she was a little snorty I just went with it and walked and trotted for about 45 min. When I dismounted, I noticed that the person who used my saddle last had left the stirrups a hole too long for me...I think riding with them a bit too long on our hack really opened up my leg for the lesson the next day! Also, being out of the ring and going out on the road with its hills and straight lines helps body and mind. :)