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Body Protector and beginner questions - help!

(10 Posts)
CountryBelle Sat 20-Oct-12 21:30:41

Was wondering if body protectors (padded gilet things) are worthwhile??

I'm a total beginner, had my first lesson today. Have scoliosis (curve of the spine - only slight in my case). Terrified of falling off and doing damage!!

Also, is it possible to get something to make the saddle more "grippy" - couldnt believe how slidey it was (i mean to make my bum stick to the saddle, not the saddle to the horse!)

Sorry for such clueless questions, absolutely loved the lesson (my lifetime dream!) but just feel crippled by fear!

Booboostoo Sat 20-Oct-12 22:07:42

Glad you enjoyed your first ride, beware it's addictive!

It's important to realise that if you ride you will fall. Falling off is a part of riding and can happen because you are learning, because you are trying something new, because you are doing something more difficult like jumping or at the end of the day any horse can just trip and have you off. We used to do falling off lessons eons ago when I was a kid, but I am not sure this is still part of riding school lessons because of health and safety worries.

Body protectors can help prevent some injuries so they are a wise precaution, just like hats and suitable footware.

The slippery saddle is a more difficult question. What kind of trousers were you wearing? Most jodhpurs/breeches (types of riding trousers) have a re-inforced seat and some are made of suede material which can help reduce slidding. Might be worth a try?

MoonlightandWerewolves Sat 20-Oct-12 22:13:56

Body protector definitely worthwhile. Try a few different varieties though as it will depend on your shape how comfortable/restricted you feel - have to say I love the Racesafe ones for flexibility.

Getting 'sticky-bottomed' jodhs, does help with staying on, but the other reason you're sliding could be because your legs are coming up slightly at the knee as they haven't got used to hanging longer to allow you to 'wrap' around the horse (again, that will come with familiarity). In other words, when you're feeling at all tense your body is fighting to get into the foetal position, when really it should be wanting to stretch as long and centred as possible.

Best way to combat this is to get a few lessons stirrupless to deepen your seat and help with balance. If you can, any time you feel 'slidy', leave your reins where they are and try and picture your heels and elbows dragging your weight towards the ground, thus keeping your bottom firmly in the saddle.

CountryBelle Sat 20-Oct-12 22:16:43

I was just wearing jeans! Didnt want to buy jodphurs or anything until i saw how i got on. Will def look for proper jodphurs - anything to reduce the risk of falling!

What kind of footwear is safest? I only have normal wellies at the mo. The riding school provided little ankle type boots, but if i was thinking of buying my own what would you recommend?

What is the "safest" way to fall?? Really am terrified - only had one lesson i suppose!

Ur right about being addictive, im wanting to go again tomorrow!!

Any other beginners tips would be really appreciated! :-)

CountryBelle Sat 20-Oct-12 22:21:54

Moonlight i see what u mean about my legs coming up. I definitely think they were "coming up" too much. I wondered if the stirrups were too short as i felt like i couldnt stretch my legs down - they felt cramped and my knees were killing me! I asked the instructor if the stirrups were too short but he said they were meant to be like that?!

MoonlightandWerewolves Sat 20-Oct-12 22:31:23

Definitely get proper riding boots, not wellies as your foot could get trapped, which is why the riding school got you to change to theirs - rubber will be fine though - Aigle and a number of others do knee highs - not too expensive, last forever and easy to clean! Also, if you change your mind on riding, they are still suitable for tramping over hill and dale, so won't go to wast.

Other tips:
Really don't be scared of falling - most of the time it's not a problem. Generally you'll find falling starts happening when you are pushing yourself to get to the next level. Rather than considering it as a 'failure' use it to analyse how to improve. One important rule though - let go of the horse on the way down! Horses prefer not to stand on humans, so if they are free to go, they try not to. If they are stuck by you holding onto the reins, they might have no choice.

Visualise making everything 'long and heavy on the seat-bones' when in a situation you're not sure of.

Don't look down, look ahead to where you're going.

Horses respond really well to balance and rhythm - so, if you want to go left, look left, then add your leg, ditto for right or straight. If your horse is trying to go a different direction than you want, ignore them and focus on / keep looking the way you want them to go - they will generally comply (eventually!)

Get in as much stirrupless/reinless riding as you can (including jumping) - it really pays off later.

Also, things really take time to come together - sometimes it will feel like you'll never get there, and then, five lessons later, the world is a beautiful place again.

After a lesson don't be surprised to find stiffness in places you never knew existed. grin

MoonlightandWerewolves Sat 20-Oct-12 22:31:59

that would be 'waste' blush

MoonlightandWerewolves Sat 20-Oct-12 22:36:37

Yup, could well be stirrups were a bit short - I would say to the instructor that you would like to try longer, to see how it feels?

Usually you would ride much longer on the flat (between 2-4 holes is the norm) than jumping. The reason he may have kept stirrups short though is that because beginners often do 'shorten' through tension, they then find it difficult to keep their feet in the stirrups - short in the first place means this is harder to do.

To keep from the knee cramp, practice turning your toes in and 'hanging' your heels down - that takes the weight off the knee and into the heel IYSIM?

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Sat 20-Oct-12 23:02:14

As a general rule of thumb, when you sit on the horse and hang your legs down long, the bottom of the stirrup should knock on your ankle bone knobbly bit thingy!
Alternatively, make a fist, and put it under the little flap at the top of your stirrup leather. The bottom of the iron should reach to your armpit to be roughly the right length.
Check ebay for jodhpur boots and jodhpurs. Its lovely going to a tack shop and buying everything new, but there is tonnes of stuff on ebay for much less!
Your own hat, and possibly a properly fitting body protector are the only things that you actually need to have fitted properly.

Bella1982 Mon 22-Oct-12 13:14:17

If you are going to continue riding I would definitely invest in a body protector as they can prevent some injuries / reduce the severity of others. It is important that you get one that fits you well (go to get it fitted at a reputable equestrian clothing shop) as they are less effective if they don't fit properly. I would not personally buy a body protector second hand as it might be damaged (and the damage might not be visable) and also I have read that body protectors only have a certain lifespan and should be replaced every couple of years or so as the material they are made out of starts to deteriorate. Perhaps do some online research. So for these reasons I think it is better to buy a brand new body protector. My body protector actually has the date of manufacture written on a label inside so I know it is not ancient.

The same applies to riding hats - I would always buy brand new as if you buy second hand and someone has been in an accident with that helmet on it might be damaged and less protective. Again I think if a riding helmet is ancient it is probably less protective. Plus an old second hand helmet might not be up to the current safety standards. Again a reputable equestrian clothing shop will be able to advise you.

I have recently started riding again after 15 years out of the saddle and I have replaced both my old hat and body protector with new ones as I did not trust my old ones which had been in the garage for 15 years!

Jodphurs, boots and gloves I would buy second hand if you can find them, or go to somewhere like Decathlon which sells cheap Jodphurs and cheap rubber riding boots. Riding boots should always have a heel to prevent your foot slipping through the stirrup and also a non-slip sole to help stop you slipping in the stable yard (especially in the winter if there is mud on the yard!).

Good luck and enjoy your riding.

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