whats the secret to a good seat? how long does it take? <frustrated and old!>

(41 Posts)
VicarInaTutu Mon 07-Jan-13 20:36:26

i know this is a "how long is a piece of string" type question but i started riding lessons as a complete novice aged 40 at the end of October last year (i ride approx once a week for about 40 mins)

im not particularly heavy and im quite fit (ish)

i know and accept its going to be a slow process - the riding instructor i have is fab (after a long search and 3 different schools) and what she doesnt know about horses and teaching you could write on the back of a postage stamp....

RI knows how much i love it and has invited me to go in at weekends to help out generally as i aim to have my own horse. I love it such a lot. She knows this and is helping me masses.

but my problem in riding is getting a good seat. The RI is giving me exercises to do and keeps saying not to worry and it will come - but i tried a canter (very briefly and slightly accidental) and im still bouncing about like a sack of spuds....i can get onto the correct diagonal for rising trot but for sitting trot i still bounce too - i know its not good for the horses back - my position is a problem and i have a better seat without stirrups (some of the exercises involve no stirrups) its coming - slowly - and this week i felt the difference in my rising trot (my legs are quite stiff and i was rising too high and not just working my pelvis forward - penny dropped a bit this week) but i still have problems keeping my legs in the right position (RI corrects me constantly and wont let me get away with bad position, leaning, slouching or anything which is great) but while i will not give up, and my aim is really to become safe and competent,not win horse of the year! but its slightly frustrating when i see people glued to the saddle while im just not getting it! RI says that canter is actually more comfortable than trot once i have it....she is great and looking after my confidence wonderfully and so far im still on a lunge rein on a very responsive (not dead to the leg) well schooled horse.

how did it take all of you tack room peeps to get to the point of being able to sit properly for sitting trot and canter?

its pointless asking my instructor as she is a lady in her 50's and has been riding for ever!

thanks!

tnml Fri 25-Jan-13 14:03:00

The real answer to this is that it takes a lot of practice but there are a few things you can do to help things along. Riders with really good seats are strong in their abdominal muscles and flexible enough in their hips to allow them to move their legs whilst maintaining their pelvis and upper body in the same position. They are relaxed in their hips enough to absorb the horses movement, but balanced enough to stay put!! If you can get your core a bit stronger and your hips abit more supple you will find it easier to carry this over to your riding. Pilates is the best sort of formal exercise to do this. You are best doing this with an instructor to make sure you can do it right. A lot of physiotherapy clinics will do assessments and can do 1 to 1 sessions. there are even people who do specific pilates for riders classes.
The other thing you could try is getting a big gym ball to sit on at home and practice sitting very level. This ties in with the pilates.
Another idea is some lessons on a mechanical horse. One thing that can help is when you get more confident, going out on a steady horse on a hack can help you get relaxed and into the flow.
I don't think lengthening stirrups will help as you will nearly always feel like you have a deeper seat without your stirrups, reaching down for longer stirrups will probably unbalance you more.
The more you ride, the quicker it will happen and a block of more frequent lessons will help, but don't aim for too many as tiredness and soreness will reduce the benefit. Good luck!

Pixel Fri 25-Jan-13 19:34:22

Has anyone tried the ijoy ride machine? It's supposed to be good for core muscles etc. Do they actually help tone up riding muscles or do you just bounce about on it for little benefit?
My sister has recently got one and I had a go on it at Christmas, which was of course hilarious fuelled by gin and tonic but I can't decide if it would actually do me any good. I didn't feel I was sitting in a proper riding position as the seat was so wide (a longer legged person would probably be ok), but I'm not sure if this matters, and I didn't have any problems balancing on it even drunk at faster speeds so I didn't really feel as if I was getting much exercise, but then could it be working muscles without me realising? If it is supposed to be like riding a horse then I have to say he is rather on his forehand or maybe he's a western pleasure horse wink. I am tempted because a) I could sit in front of the telly whilst getting fitter and b) ds absolutely loved it and he has very poor muscle tone as a result of his disabilties. Also they are fairly easy to pick up second-hand now. Against is the fact that we have very little space as it is so it would just be used as a coffee table sat there in the way at all times, and the sneaking suspicion that it is just a gimmick.
Sorry Vicar, not trying to hijack, just all this talk of pilates etc made me think of it. I've been wondering about getting one for a while and dh keeps looking at them on ebay. I'm a bit worried he will buy me one as a 'surprise' when I haven't decided whether it's worth bothering (he does get a bit dangerous if allowed on ebay grin).

lovestruckfifi Sat 26-Jan-13 21:08:08

I really think you should ride the cob or a bit, steering and stopping sounds good to me. It will be a gd chance for you see how much you have learnt.

2aminthemorning Wed 13-Feb-13 15:50:49

You sound just like me.

You have a great instructor. The Lipizzaner riders are taught entirely on the lunge rein for the first year.

As your instructor has been riding forever, she may not realise that some things don't come through trying. Think of it like learning the piano. If I showed you a Grade 8 piece of music and asked you to try playing it for an hour a week until you could perform it competently, you would (I hope) think I was mad. Playing the piano involves starting at the beginning and - over a period of years - learning from a good teacher, consciously practising, and - crucially - just playing. There is no shortcut. Expect to still be working towards a good seat this time next year. And the year after that...

My riding and stable management changed when I got a cob on loan. There's nothing like just getting on with it and trying new things without people watching. Making mistakes and realising why the instructor has said what she did. Weeping with frustration because you can't make your horse do anything you want. Losing concentration during a hack and then suddenly realising you feel more glued onto the saddle than ever before.

And above all, falling in love with a horse who looks after you. Buying expensive herbal powders, fussing about his poo.

You probably have a long wait before becoming as competent as you're hoping to be. During that time, I think you might realise it's less about the seat and more about a partnership. You won't get anywhere by endlessly pointing out to yourself what you're doing wrong. That's unlikely to lead to an amazing ability to suddenly do it right. Let your body find the way by itself a little. Try and ride over different terrains. I agree with whoever said you need a week of intensive riding (or a month).

MagicBoo Wed 13-Feb-13 17:12:59

Hello smile The simple answer is get in as much riding as you can posisbly can! I rode a little as a child but not much and was not confident. Just over two years ago, at age 32 I started riding from scratch at a friends livery yard. I was all over the place at first, bounced about, fell off lots.

With my friends help over the last two years so much has changed. We hack out about twice a week and I have jumping and flatwork lessons as much as possible but at least once a week. I ride everything I can (must be around thirty different horses/ ponies in the two years). I am still learning about a more indepedant seat- I think you never stop really. It is easier to sit the trot and canter on some horses than others depending on how big their movement is and how well they carry themselves etc, also once you start learning about the horse working correctly/ soft and round all the paces become easier to sit to.

Two years ago I couldnt canter round the school without being all over the place, this winter I went hunting for the first time on my friends awesome schoolmaster and loved every minute!

Ride as much as you can, go to any riding schools you can, do some fun hacks on holiday or day trekking anywhere you possibly can. Try to find a share pony or horse- there are some suitable for a total Novice but def make sure you can hack with people x

Don't give up on your dream, you will have moments where you want to quit, probably cry your eyes out and make a total idiot of yourself *try falling off 12hh kids pony twice in a row because she shied (not even spooked) at the instuctor, then I fell off as she legged me up!!! You will progress three steps only to go backwards five but keep on trying! I am not a naturally good rider, but love for the horses, good friends, determination and passion have seen me through- now its just getting better and better smile x

phew sorry - I can go on sometimes lol!

Mirage Wed 13-Feb-13 17:21:43

Once you've got it,you've got it for life.I had over 30 years away from riding,apart from a handful of lessons about 15 years ago.When I went for my first lesson after all that time,it just came back to me.My instructor pointed out that I was so relaxed that I was riding one handed at one stage and that if she'd known,she'd have put me on a faster horse and got me cantering.shock Sadly,due to the time and money being eaten by the dds ponies,I haven't been back for any more lessons.I'd like to though,as I plan to inherit dpony at some point and the instructor said I'd need only half a dozen lessons or less to bring me up to being capable of hacking her out safely.

To me, a seat is something that you either have or you don't. Sorry! Although maybe starting as an adult makes it harder.

And really, you shouldn't be moving at all, it is more a case of absorbing the horse's movments through your pelvis and back iyswim.

Not at all helpful really...

VicarInaTutu Wed 13-Feb-13 20:26:31

i missed the updates - thank you everyone.

2 weeks ago i finally found my seat by doing some exercises in the saddle - suddenly i was sitting in the right place and i managed sitting trot and canter without bouncing about, felt brilliant.

last week i was on a different horse - seat gone again but i rode independently and off the lunge so got more of a feel for using leg aids to keep him moving forward and a better feel through the reins.

im not sure that a seat cannot be learned with practice exit - i know that i shouldnt be moving - i know about absorbing the movement - i just cant put it into practice - yet.

when the weather gets better i will be booking a block of intensive lessons as someone suggested - ill try 3 days riding with a day off then another 3 days (if i can move by then!)

Sorry Vicar - I didn't mean to be negative, and to be fair I don't know anyone who has come to riding as an adult. I just know from looking at children you can tell those who are naturals and those who will never have a decent seat.

I am sure your determination will see you through - and of course, practice makes perfect.

Better weather, - I can't wait!

VicarInaTutu Wed 13-Feb-13 23:55:52

thanks exit and tbh i agree with you - my RI can take one look at someone and say if they will ever make a decent rider.
and there in lies the problem! im sure she looks and me and thinks "never in a month of sundays" but the fact is i love riding, love horses, want a horse and find it so therapeutic for my depression.

and i want to learn. i want to do it. so i will stick with it until she tells me to sod off grin

yes to better weather....im with you there!

2aminthemorning Thu 14-Feb-13 00:05:07

Exit - I don't agree with you at all. I wonder to what extent your perception is coloured by seeing children who are all of the same age and size (so feel similar) but have very different levels of experience. I've read more than one autobiography of top riders who claim they were hopeless for ages and ages.

Go on, Vicar!

VicarInaTutu Thu 14-Feb-13 00:13:26

thank you 2am - my enthusiasm makes up for my lack of ability im sure!

yes i have come to riding lessons very late in life - but i am improving week by week. im never going to be great - but if i can be competent, and safe, i will be happy with that, and then get my own.

Zazzles007 Thu 14-Feb-13 06:39:21

I don't agree with Exit either, I'm afraid. There are very, very few riders who are 'naturals' in the saddle - its like supermodels who are 2% of the population. The rest of us mere mortals have to learn the correct seat one ride at a time.

I've been riding for 35 years, and its only in the last 5 that I've developed the correct seat through having the right instructors. Vicar you have that right instructor, and with time and perserverance, you will get there. When you look back in couple of years, you will think "What was I worried about?" We've all been there smile.

50BalesOfHay Thu 14-Feb-13 09:52:36

The other thing, Vicar, is that you only need to be good enough for what you want to do. Yes, it's important to get the basics right so as to be safe, but if you want to hack then you don't need the fine tuning that you'd need for dressage. My DH, who started riding about 3 years ago, has a good grasp of the basics and has a natural seat and balance, but he looks like an old farmer on his hoss. Not particularly pretty, but safe and effective

VicarInaTutu Thu 14-Feb-13 15:09:04

im quite relieved to hear others say a seat can be learned - that gives me a bit of hope for the future of my riding.

50bales thanks - good enough for what i want means just that im safe when riding, and able enough to keep a horse in good health and happy. My RI is always telling me she doesnt care what i look like - that style comes after ability. its just going to take me a long time and practice i think. it feels like 2 steps forward and one back at the minute but i enjoy it.

SlowlorisIncognito Sun 24-Feb-13 12:05:06

Something that may help if you are just learning to canter is to remember to breath. A lot of people hold their breath and become tense when doing something faster/scarier on horses, which is obviously the opposite of what you want. I have known RIs make people sing/count the strides of the canter which can help, even if you do this under your breath rather than out loud.

When you get more used to the canter (or possibly you are doing this already on the lunge?) cantering without stirrups can really help you sit deep into the canter.

However, different things work for different people. I generally ride better when put under pressure, according to my intructor, or when I have somethign to focus on, e.g. a course of jumps, a dressage test. If I start trying to thing to hard about what I am doing, I get confused.

I believe almost anyone who is reasonably fit and able can learn to have a good, safe and secure seat given time, although I do think it takes longer with an adult who has never ridden before (sorry sad). I think the thing that cannot always be taught and takes much longer is "feel", partially because this is much harder to explain to people.

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