How does everyone stay straight and balanced in the middle of the saddle? Especially, once you start working, if the horse isn't going perfectly straight.

Also, is there a way to test if you are properly feeling both seat bones and have equal weight in the stirrups? One leg seems to ride up a bit and doesn't want to relax as well as the other.
I am interested in any suggestions and help!Thanks!

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Help! Any ideas?
Hi Crooked: (just teasing)
I think that most of us have experienced 'crooked' at one time or another & if we haven't - we better prepare - because it might just happen...
There is work that you can do off of the horse, to train your muscle memory to 'sit straight'. Once you have developed the kinisetic feel of where you are in space (or your seatbones), then you can more easily transfer this when you are mounted.
Once you discover that you are sitting straight, you might just find that your horse is also more straight (since the horse mirrors the rider & vice versa).
As for testing to see if you are feeling both seat bones - try the old 'sit on your hand' exercise. You may be able to guage it, by placing your hand between your seat bone and the saddle. As well, a mirror works wonders. Make sure that your saddle flaps are at the same length, as well as your stirrups being the same length. Then in the mirror sight your knee caps. If one knee cap is shorter than the other, then you can almost look to a tight hip flexor as the culprit. If that's the case, stretching exercises are in order, as well as proper unmounted warm up exercises - until you are confident that your hips are relaxed.
I have tons more ideas for you (seeing as this is a typical Balimo question & issue! But I'll leave with a question for you - can you tell me which leg rides up and doesn't want to relax (I have a feeling I know - but am still curious!).
Hope these suggestions are a beginning to straightness for you! Let me know,
I don't know about Susan, but my left leg behind the knee doesn't want to relax as well as my right. Is that what you were thinking? I'm left handed. Does that make a difference?
Can you sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you - comfortably? If not, then that's 'telling' you something... If you can sit comfortably, then it's telling you something different again (related to being on the horse) - could be something as simple as boots or breeches being too tight, discomfort in a saddle part or possibly an issue with a tight muscle - perhaps your quad? difficult to diagnose without seeing you.
As far as being left handed, humans are similar to horses. We are normally more dominant on one side (and it's usually the hand we write with), so it is not surprising that your focus is more with your left leg. Luckily the same fix for humans - work a bit more to bring both sides into a better balance, and some of these issues will disappear on their own.
Do you have any of Eckart Meyners "Program for Better Riding Books", which Alison Faso would have been teaching from? The series of 5 books give many many exercises for just these kinds of scenarios, making it easy to start to balance your muscles....
Start doing Pilates, especially Pilates on the Ball. This will improve your posture both on and off the horse. An exercise ball is the closest thing to horse. To fix your own crookedness you can see a chiropractor and/or and an osteopath.
Practice sitting on a ball when you watch TV!
Can anyone recommend a Pilates on the Ball video or CD that applies especially well to riding?

Or any particular Pilates poses/routines that are helpful for the "riding crooked" issue?
Iyengar yoga is another good option for raising body awareness and improving flexibility.
Have you ever heard of Sally Swift and "Centered Riding"? It is all about body positioning and balance and making life easy for the horse. I personally don't really buy into one technique over the other for training horses - there are so many out there that claim to be the way to "fix" your horse, but this is about the rider and positional errors.
I would reccomend working without stirrups too. Our legs tend to creep up when we are holding on and gripping with our thigh or knee. It can be one side or both. The excercise ball is a great idea too.
And is your horse not straight because you are gripping on one side or the other? Or perhaps you are twisting at teh hips? It is always good to have someone watch you from the outside of the circle rather then having your coach standing in the middle. That way they can get a look at you from the outside and see what is happening there, and straight on from the back and be able to deturmine if you are doing a positional flaw that is invisible to you and from the side.
Anyways, I hope this makes sence! English or western, long legs that are hugging your horse equally is the way to go.
The pilates ball is a great idea.....I like using it, plus I have a chiropractor. As I was reading I started thinking about riding bareback. I do that as well and it is a challenge sometimes to ride with correct riding seat, you will definitely lengthen your leg and achieve better balance which in turn correct the crookedness.
A crooked riding position is visual clue that your body has gone out of alignment somewhere. It is a form of compensation or adaptation. My experience in working with riders with this issue is a stiff or rigid mid back which causes the rider to create motion elsewhere. This usually involves a twisting of the pelvis - altering your seatbone position and creating a functional or temporary longer leg - hence the visual clue. Treatment involves video taping your riding, manual work to unlock the restricted area and a follow-up exercise program to create dynamic stability while riding. If you have been riding in this position for awhile you will also have to check your saddle as most likely you have broken it in incorrectly and finally your position influences your horse so evaluating the horse would be the final step in this process. Hope this helps

You could try the evil but effective exercise Greg Best had us all do in his clinic because we all rode crooked....

Take the stirrups off your saddle - but I advise doing this AFTER you mount (you'll see why).
Put the leathers through the stirrups, but buckle them TO each other on each end (kinda like you buckle rein ends together, but do so for both buckle ends). This will give you two stirrups with one long strap connecting them (put the buckle ends down by the top of the stirrups).

Now, lay the stirrup leathers over your saddle, with the stirrups on each side. You'll have a double thickness of leather - put one piece in the deepest part of your saddle, and put the other in front of the pommel.

Sit on the piece that's in the deepest part of the saddle, and put your feet into the stirrups. You may need to adjust the leathers up a bit to put the stirrups at the right length. Now...stand in your stirrups and get them even, sit down, and go ride.

If you are leaning or crooked at all, you'll find yourself sliding off because the stirrups aren't anchored to the saddle. You'll also quickly figure out on your own how TO balance so you don't slide.

You can even jump with them like this -- I didn't have the guts, but my much younger barnmate did. She said that was a pretty terrifying experience, but after a few jumps, she was much straighter, and her horse who has a difficult lead change was changing softly and correctly without her even working at it, because she was balanced.

It's something to consider trying...if you can understand my description, that is!
Oooh, that's a really great and clever way to find out the truth!! Hopefully, I won't roll off to one side! :)


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