View Full Version : Leaning back
05-06-2008, 05:30 PM
So I've heard/seen/read all kinds of tips and tricks for helping riders who have problems sitting up straight because they want to lean forward. But what about the riders who tend to lean back?
That is my problem :sad:
It's actually the way I was taught. Not 'on purpose' in that the people teaching me thought leaning back was proper; but since most people of an 'average' weight are sitting up straight when you can draw a straight line from the back of their shoulders to the back of their 'hindend' (like they were standing against a wall); that is the posture I was taught.
Problem is, I'm not of an average weight, never have been, and carry quite a bit of that weight around my hips and butt. And when you can draw that line from the back of my shoulders to the back of my hindend; I'm leaning back; pretty far actually.....
And it's become pretty obvious lately, as I've lost 50lbs (and 5 pant sizes!) recently. And my hindend doesn't extend quite as far behind me anymore :thumbup1: but to me, I feel like I'm "sitting up straight" when I'm leaning back to that line when my hindend USE TO end.
Here's a visual. This is from 9 years ago. You can see that straight line down the back of me; but if you draw a line when I SHOULD be lined up: shoulder-HIP; I'm way back (if you put a dot right behind the white stripe on my sleeve; that's about where my actual hip joint is :blink: with my shoulder being under my ear)
I was sitting up straight alot better when I had regular lessons (for a few years!) with an equitation instructor; but I haven't ridden with her for well over a year now; and have gone back to leaning back :glare:
Right now, when I'm actually sitting up straight, I feel like I'm leaning way forward. And it's very hard to practice sitting up straight at home, because I ride alone most of the time, and I can never really know whether I'm straight, leaning forward, or leaning back and there's no one around to tell me when I have it right.
Plus, it doesn't help that when I'm riding at home, I'm training horses, so I not only don't usually spend much time focusing on me anyway, but I also adjust my position to give the horse what it needs...
Anyone have any tips or handy tricks for helping me sit up straight, and/or to know when I'm sitting up straight?? LOL, maybe I need to put a whip in my back pocket and try to NOT touch it!!
05-07-2008, 09:24 AM
I don't know if this will help all that much but I ride leaning forward a lot and my mom puts a whip in the back of my shirt down into the waist of my pants. When I'm rolling over or leaning forward some I can really feel the whip bend against my back and it's a good reminder. Hope this helps some. I'm sure someone else can give you some more suggestinos.
05-07-2008, 09:46 AM
Try sitting more on your crotch than on your butt. You'll roll your thighs inward a bit and sit upright more. It's pretty hard to lean back while sitting like that because it hurts your back like crazy.
Also, go without stirrups for a while. If you're putting too much pressure on the stirrups, your leg will stick out in front of you a bit and push your whole upper body back. Riding without stirrups will help get your leg under you better and rock your entire upper body forward.
05-07-2008, 10:31 AM
LOL - smorrow, here's a picture of me from this weekend
as you can see; my foot isn't out in front of me much :p And my jods were actually too tight (in the calf) so I couldn't pull them up all the way. Causing me to not be able to sit down in my saddle very well; and I couldn't put much weight into my stirrup at all because of it :blink: I actually had to shorten my stirrups a hole so I could put SOME pressure in them :glare:
Since I'm so well trained to lean back, I can sit on my crotch, roll my thigh in and do no stirrup work (which I do do) without a problem in my leaning back stance...
Hah, see my problem :sad:
From the photo, it looks to me like you are sitting fine. If you are now talking about riding western, I'm not much help. If you're talking saddle seat, the concept is for your shoulders (and ideally your head too) to be over your feet. The alignment is not really shoulders to hips, but shoulders over your feet with a bend in the knees. This is really just a version of the the athletic, balanced, "ready" position for most sports (like defensive crouch in basketball, receiving position on the serve in tennis, addressing the ball in golf, infield ready in baseball, etc.). The Centered Riding book explains and demonstrates it better than anything else I've seen and in great detail with illustrations.
If you are posting and you seem to be able to rise and fall without using your lower back muscles or the tops of your thigh muscles, you are probably sitting fine. If you have to work at it or are losing your balance when the horse does not hit a perfect stride, I'd make some adjustments, maybe even by trial and error, such as adjustible bars, lengthening stirrups, bigger saddle, moving the saddle back a little, or whatever to find your comfort zone. Given your astute analysis of what is going on, you'll know it when you feel it.
(LOL: I just saw that the question was from Wstrngrl. I kain't learn her nottin she haint already done knowed!)
P.S. I'll take your seat any day, so my advice is, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
05-07-2008, 03:33 PM
I see that you were showing equitation, so that is probably why you are super aware of your position. Nothing else makes you analyze your self more! :001_tongue: While I also think you have pretty good riding position, I found a couple other pictures of you from the show and I do see a little bit of leaning back. Try to relax your back a little and don't bend so much in your lower back.
To find a nice, natural center of gravity and balance, we put our eq riders on the lunge line. I know you ride alone a lot, but if you could get someone to lunge you, that would really help. Even if you do a lot of stirrupless work, this should be a challenge.
We start with the kids in their own saddle with stirrups and no bridle. If you want a little security, you can loop a leg wrap around the horse's neck for "reins". Then we start the kids just walking with their hands in riding position. Then we have them put their arms in different positions. Out to their sides, up over their head, one in front, one in back, etc.
Once you feel good at the walk, then start trotting. You want to make sure you keep your arms relaxed and use your legs to post. Repeat with arms movements from the walk. All this helps you to have a nice balanced seat and to not rely on your hands. It should bring you into a nice normal position, not forward or back. Continue onto the canter. Once you have it down with stirrups, then do it without stirrups and no reins. Make sure your legs stay in the correct position and your toes stay up. You don't want to wrap your legs. You have to really rely on your legs and find a natural center of gravity.
If you can do all of this, then you are not "leaning back." You might have a build where it appears that way, but you can't lean back and still maintain balance without reins or stirrups. Even if you find that is the case, this exercise should really help your eq and to keep you strong in a nice even position in the saddle.
Hope this helps!
05-07-2008, 06:27 PM
Gracious it don't look that bad to me! You are rearing back very slightly, but not badly, and your feet are in a decent position. And since you're so experienced, you don't look stiff, which is an associated problem for so many people who lean back and brace with their feet.
Looking at this latest picture, it appears to me your reins may be a bit longer than ideal and gathered back to a bit close. If this is the way you're used to riding it can be difficult to change that hand position, but with your reins back there it's going to be hard to get your shoulders over your feet.
Shorten up on the reins just a hair and ride with your hands in inch or so more forward.
Working without stirrups is usually helpful too.
And if you're going to be showing in eq you might find a good ground person useful.
If you're not going to ride in adult eq - don't worry. You look fine.
Congrats on loosing all that weight - wow! You are a star!
09-12-2008, 08:19 AM
I tend to lean back to and my trainer tells me to "stick my butt out, roll my shoulders back but suck in my stomach at the same time" and it works well for me
10-04-2008, 04:24 AM
Stretch down through your upper thighs and knees more. This will open your hip angle more and you should subconsioulsy bring your shoulder/hip more into alignment as the open hip angle will make you shoulder feel "left behind" when you do lean back to far. This will bring you more onto your crotch and off of your back pockets in the saddle as you try to close that hip angle again.
10-04-2008, 06:30 AM
You look perfectly fine to me.
But if you feel you need to work on your posture, I'd recommend you practise OFF the saddle. I personally never feel it's useful to work on posture in the saddle as it throws you off balance. Better to get it right on the ground, develop those core muscles and then rely on your body's natural strength once you're in the saddle.
10-04-2008, 08:59 AM
Congrats on the weight loss! I think the more recent picture of you looks fine. If you have or can get your hands onto Sally Swift's Centered Riding books and/or videos, I think those will be of help to you too.
11-24-2008, 09:03 PM
I don't think it looks that bad, but I do see what you mean about how you've been trained to ride that way. If you really want to change it, i can tell you how I usually go about switching between hunt and saddle seat. As you know I have your opposite problem, so I need to do the reverse of what you do.
I would work on getting a little bit more "pike" stick your butt and your boobs out, bend slightly at the hip. It helps to practice 2 point- ride a trot in 2 point for a bit, that helps to teach you to balance in a more forward position. Now obviously you don't want to overcorrect that far, but you need to condition the core muscles to support a slightly more forward position. Way back when I switched back from saddle seat to hunt with my old arab, I remember my low back being very sore for a few weeks while I was transitioning, but it may help.
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