Sunday, February 3, 2013

Back In The Saddle

Shameless Brag Photo of my awesome new boots.  My husband got them for me for Christmas, if only they were show legal!  I'd totally rock these at a dressage show.

So, I got back to riding this past week.  I've ridden three times, and I'm pleased to say that my back has not offered any objections.

I chose to just dive right back in, as though there had been no lag in our work.  I think sometimes when you "ease" back in, you run the risk of introducing bad habits. Spider objected on the first day, but we had a discussion about it and, together, we came to the conclusion that he did remember everything we had been working on and could do the work.  Horses are smarter than we give them credit for, and they remember everything.

I made a bit of a change in my own form.  I raised my stirrups two holes.  It's a change that was suggested to me by my trainer a couple months ago, but I was resistant. I prefer a long stirrup, because my back and knees hurt when my stirrups are too short.  But, since my back and knees don't hurt right now, I decided to give it a try.

It made a world of difference!  Just two holes made it easier to wrap my lower leg around Spider's belly.  With my lower leg right there on his belly, I was better able to lift his ribs with my calves and bring his back up under me.  And I was able to do that without lifting my heel or compromising my seat.

I think dressage riders often equate a long stirrup with "correct" position.  And that is mostly true, but it fails to take into account the "length" of the horse's ribs.  If your legs are dangling two feet below the bottom of the girth, there is no way for you to get your leg on that horse without seriously compromising your position.  So, when you think about "long stirrups", think about them in relation to your horse's girth.  The stirrups should be long enough to wrap around your horse, but not so long that you can't apply your aids, and that length will vary from horse to horse.

Play with your stirrup length.  Find your sweet spot.  And never forget that it might change from horse to horse, or even level to level!  


  1. I love those boots! My checking account is grateful that they don't come in a shape which would fit me, or I would own some, too. :)

    As for the stirrups - I find that a slightly shorter stirrup allows my hips to absorb more motion, so for me shorter stirrups are better for my back! With my short legs, though, longer would be better for trying to wrap my legs...

  2. Ooh! Dang those are cool! I am such a boot addict, I'm afraid to even ask where he got those.

    Interesting about raising your stirrups. My legs are pretty long, I find that too short and I loose my balance, too long and I flop around. Of course I'm riding western too.

  3. Super boots! Talk about making a statement.

    Each of my horses "fits" my leg differently. I can pretty much ride in the same stirrup length for each one, however. Have to wonder if the treeless saddle might make a difference, as it changes to fit each horse.

    All that being said, I tend to ride in a stirrup length a bit shorter than many "classical" dressage seats suggest. Too long, and all I do is reach for the stirrups instead of riding effectively.

    Glad to hear your back is feeling better. Hoping it's a long term relief.

  4. Those boots are awesome! I love the tassel.

    I completely agree about stirrup length. As a short person, I have suffered from leg-envy and tried to make my stirrups as long as possible to "prove myself". I have also had tall instructors do this to me and then criticize my leg when my heels came up and my lower leg wiggled like crazy. I am glad that I finally gave in to shorter, correct stirrup length for me and my horse. Amazingly, things that were more difficult before are easier now that I have shock-absorbing bend in my joints and my knee in front of my lower leg. Tall riders manage to do this with miles of stirrup, though. ;)

  5. Who made those fantabulous boots! What a gift. Nice that your back is doing better so you could try them out. Your husband has great taste!

  6. The boots are made by a company called El Estribo and can be purchased from Smartpak. They're the Cordoba Andalusian Riding boot:

    I love them! I even wear them when I go out!

  7. Love those boots, gorgeous! Completely agree with the stirrup length. I thought I couldn't handle mine shorter, but when I decided to try it I've been riding SO much better.


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