tips on sitting up straighter in the saddle??

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12 May 2020
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recently i have been struggling with sitting up and not leaning forward in the saddle, and this issue is mainly at trot. i’m fine when i’m walk or canter but trot just seems to make me lean forward for some reason, even if i’m sitting the trot. ive never really had this problem before, but since i came back to riding from an injury (it couldn’t be the injury affecting it however) i just feel as if it’s impossible to make myself sit up straight, even if i am consciously focusing on it. does anyone have any tips that could help me with this?

thanks x
 

Iznurgle

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Do you mind if I ask what the injury was? I broke some ribs a few months back, and it took me longer than I expected to regain thoracic strength! I'm still working on it, but it's gotten better over time with physio, pilates, and concentration. Something to keep in mind might be bringing the shoulder blades back, so that you're almost trying to make them touch (they never will), while keeping your shoulders down and chest in. I started doing this after my injury, to strengthen my lat muscles, and it's made a huge difference. I do it while sitting in the car, watching TV, on the horse - whenever I remember to do it! Basically I roll my shoulders back and in, without sticking out my chest, and keep my neck straight and aligned, which helps me keep my shoulders back and engaged, and stops me tipping forward.
 

JGC

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Hard to tell without seeing exactly what you're doing, but I find it more helpful to think of drawing my belly button and pelvis towards my hands, rather than leaning back or getting my shoulders back (which is my default bad habit!).

Often people (me too) lean forward to balance over the horse's centre of movement as their seat is too far back. If that's the case, if you try to sit back it will just feel awfully bumpy and behind the movement.
 

sbloom

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There are so many reasons but the two biggest ones are saddle and rider (of course!).

Saddle - could be out of balance and need refitting, just a couple off mm difference in the height at the front can affect the rider, some more than others, and nothing to do with ability in many cases. Has your saddle been checked recently? A 6 monthly check is the minimum recommended.

Saddle - may not suit you. I find many twists too narrow and end up leaning back to avoid discomfort - if the twist and waist are wide enough then I can sit properly on my "3 point seat". Without an upright pelvis the upper body has no chance. What supports a rider correctly is complex and poorly understood, and that level of understanding is only just starting to grown between saddle fitters (and only a few of them really know much about it, scientifically) and biomechanics and other trainers. Even good biomex specialist don't, and in some ways, can't, understand how much difference the right saddle can make.

Rider - being fit to ride is so much more than a weekly yoga class, or of course riding in itself. I recommend three programmes currently to my saddle fitting customers, look on FB for Activate Your Seat, Neuromechanics Coach and Refined Riding. All very different but any one should help you, see which appeals.

Drawing the belly button back/zipping up is an interesting one, highly recommended by many trainers but, IIRC, some movement coaches would say it weakens the torso's abilities (see Tom Waldron on FB IIRC).

Anything done with too much tension (fighting the saddle, unable to use the correct muscles) is likely to negatively effect the horse, even if only in a small way.
 
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Cowpony

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There are some good videos on YouTube for posture. One of the best is a German coach and has English subtitles. She was getting the rider to activate the muscle at the bottom of the shoulderblades, on the inside edge of each one. As somebody above said, this draws the shoulderblades together and automatically lifts the sternum. It made a huge difference to my riding, as did having lessons exclusively on position, even if that meant spending the whole lesson in walk.

And as SBloom said, the saddle plays a huge part too. I've just taken on a loan pony and bought a new dressage saddle, as much for my comfort as hers! I said when trying it that the twist was too wide for me, but the saddle fitter suggested I try it for a few weeks, because it fitted the pony really well. An instructor pointed out that not only was it so wide I couldn't sit into the horse, but the flaps were too long, which wasn't helping our communication issues. The saddle fitter is coming out again in a few days and I'm going to be more insistent that it fits me too, this time.
 

Birker2020

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recently i have been struggling with sitting up and not leaning forward in the saddle, and this issue is mainly at trot. i’m fine when i’m walk or canter but trot just seems to make me lean forward for some reason, even if i’m sitting the trot. ive never really had this problem before, but since i came back to riding from an injury (it couldn’t be the injury affecting it however) i just feel as if it’s impossible to make myself sit up straight, even if i am consciously focusing on it. does anyone have any tips that could help me with this?

thanks x
years ago when I learnt to ride we had to pass a schooling whip across our back placing in between our arms and back. Makes you sit very straight!
 

sbloom

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There are some good videos on YouTube for posture. One of the best is a German coach and has English subtitles. She was getting the rider to activate the muscle at the bottom of the shoulderblades, on the inside edge of each one. As somebody above said, this draws the shoulderblades together and automatically lifts the sternum. It made a huge difference to my riding, as did having lessons exclusively on position, even if that meant spending the whole lesson in walk.

And as SBloom said, the saddle plays a huge part too. I've just taken on a loan pony and bought a new dressage saddle, as much for my comfort as hers! I said when trying it that the twist was too wide for me, but the saddle fitter suggested I try it for a few weeks, because it fitted the pony really well. An instructor pointed out that not only was it so wide I couldn't sit into the horse, but the flaps were too long, which wasn't helping our communication issues. The saddle fitter is coming out again in a few days and I'm going to be more insistent that it fits me too, this time.
See if you can have fitter and instructor present together so each can explain the whys and wherefores together, it's gutting as a saddle fitter to have a saddle rejected by a third party after you've spent a long time fitting one. I will say that there is a lack of understanding, sometimes on both sides, about the interaction between saddle and rider, and even then how that whole equation interacts with the horse's ribcage shape, and the available saddles that will fit that horse. Sometimes horses are just too wide for the rider, though it's not that common.
 
Joined
12 May 2020
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thanks everyone!!! unfortunately i can’t change the saddle as i only take lessons and don’t have my own horse yet, but everyone’s advice has been very helpful! also, the injury was a broken elbow for those of you asking :)))
 
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these all worked tysm!! i had a two week break from riding due to lack of time, and i’ve only ridden once since i asked this and the issue is already pretty much fixed!! thank you again hahaha
 

Bob notacob

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One of the fundamental problems is the stirrup bar position . Your lower leg and the stirrup leather are pendulums ,One attached to your hip ,the other to the stirrup bar .There are a number of forces acting and the foot and leg will tend to move to a position where all the forces cancel out. Rising in trot, you need to keep your centre of balance above this neutral point and it may well mean that you have to tip forward to do this. Even 15 mm on the stirrup bar has a major effect on ones body position. I do not have an ideal body shape for off the peg saddles so I had one made , It needed to be 20" for a short dumpy rider not a typical 6ft 6 size 12 foot male rider . So I had wellep bars fitted (adjustable stirrup bars often used on high end dressage saddles) Its amazing the difference a few mm makes . A friend (good rider) had a horse that constantly threw her off balance. Put my saddle on her horse and adjusted bar position a couple of times .Her voiced opinion was "That's ******* miraculous) It is possible to put spacers on the stirrup bar ,thin sections of rubber tube ,to move the leather back a bit . One major problem which seems to go unnoticed is that if you are using a narrow leather rather than our old fashioned leathers ,you have shifted entirely all your balance . Hope this helps
 

sbloom

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Stirrup bar placement can definitely be an issue, 1.5cm is a huge amount and you should never attempt to use spacers more than 1cm at the very most or there won't be room for the leather to stay on safely, 3/8" (sorry to mix and match!) is the width I stock, leather loop spacers.

OP just make sure your corrections aren't in tension because then you're losing most of the benefit, you have to be able to find a soft neutral but correct position in the saddle as a "base".
 
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