Horse with huge canter - having trouble keeping my leg?

We recently bought a wonderful new mare, a foundation Quarter Horse. She has VERY large gaits as she is long in the back and has a pretty steep shoulder. I've noticed when loping her (I ride her Western) that my leg will come forward with whatever lead she is on. For example, on the left lead, my left leg comes considerably forward and I get into a chair seat.

Without going into two-point, how do you think I can get my leg back under me with such a huge canter? :) Thanks!

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Can you swing with her in a western saddle?  And by that I mean when one rides with a long stirrup, a la dressage, the hips 'swing' with the canter, then the leg stays quiet.  With a shorter stirrup, as in jumping, one tends to lock the hip.  Could be that  you are unintentionally locking the hip, which is causing your legs to compensate.  Or, I could be all wet!

I'd echo MagsNMe's advice. Try the longer stirrup and beware if your heel is creeping up/pinching at the knees. When I first had my long-backed gelding this was an issue for me. I found that also taking my feet out of the stirrups at the beginning of the canter helped me go with the motion, then I could pick up the stirrups again when I felt secure in my seat. Going from a short-backed horse to a long-backed horse is a much different feel and on a subconscious level you might be trying to find your balance and bring it all together as you have to do a little more work to keep both ends of the train working together.

How are you doing sitting her trot? Maybe a little more work on that will give you a more secure seat and more suppleness in your hips. Also working on collecting the trot a little more, may help her lope more "gently", therefore easier to sit? Another thought is, perhaps her build is making the saddle slip back a bit putting you a little too far back from the sweet spot for balance. So you'd be getting more bounce from the back end.

Great thoughts, everyone! 

Her trot is definitely a big trot, though I have been able to sit it just fine without cajoling about. I can collect it up, lengthen it out (not an extended trot, but a lengthened trot), and have no issues with riding it seat-wise or leg-wise.

My stirrups are set so that my leg is long (can't ride with a short stirrup for long as my knees begin to ache), and generally I feel pretty good, as if my leg is draping over her side very well and not pinching at the knee or lifting my heel. I do have a continuing issue with my left leg feeling very solid and my right leg feeling sort of.. loosey goosey, and in a huntseat saddle sometimes I lose my right stirrup. This happens on several horses, and something I'm thinking I may need a deep-tissue massage to work out (possibly locked muscles from previous/continuing injury to my right knee). I'll bet this has something to do with it!

RE: Mags: How would I know if I am locking my hip, and how can I relax it if I am?

Thank you! :)

Interesting question.  Basically locking your hip means that the angle of your thigh relative to your core doesn't change, so you are not absorbing motion with it.  it works over fences because you are absorbing motion in the knee and ankle. 

 

It sounds like you sit left heavy (I do too), so you'll need to address that first.  I'd suggest, if possible, riding without stirrups on other horses, to even out your base.  And when riding this horse, step to the right and be cognisant of your tendencies.  Another way to work it is to completely release the left leg and hold with the right hip (you won't be able to do it at first).

 

Let us know what progress you make!

Thanks Mags! I will work on that this evening and bring back an update for you! :)

I also found some interesting advice yesterday regarding someone who loses their stirrups when they have a long leg rather than a short leg (I lose my right stirrup in a hunt seat), and the advice given seemed appropriate. The person suggested working on consciously lengthening the leg via a few visualization practices (10lb weight hanging from the leg, etc), as well as physical exercises such as rotating the ankles to loosen them up, and eventually trying to get the foot to go from pointed outward a la jumping to pointing forward, even so much that the big toe touches the horse's side!

I bring this up despite the fact that my problem seems a bit opposite, because I do tend to have an outward pointed toe and think I may grip with my calves. I do admit that posting without stirrups is nearly impossible for me (and may be for a few more months as my core continues to be stretched out thanks to be 7mos pregnant!), so I know I can work more on my leg/core. 

Any thoughts? :)

If you are seven months pregnant the pubic ligaments are starting to relax, which can throw the  best seat off.  Your balance point will also change until you recover from the birth.  When I was pregnant, decades ago, it ended up that during the last two months my pregnancy dictated my seat more than I did.  Just concentrate on staying up on the horse, perfect seats were not developed with pregnant women in mind!

When cantering your hip on the side of the lead will be more forward than your non-leading leg hip.  It sounds like this horse's back motion is sending your whole leg forward.the only thing I can think of is concentrating on keeping your heel down.

I think you may be right about keeping my heel down as the main concentrating point. I'll try that out the next time I ride!

Woah ho! Do ya think being 7 mos preggers could affect your riding? You left out that little detail. When I was pregnant I was downhill skiing and my whole center of balance changed and that definitely affects how you ski, so I should think it would affect your balance on a horse. Actually you realize riding when you are pregnant is just as bad an idea as downhill skiing don't you.

Not necessarily Marlene, I rode until the day before labor started on both of my kids. 

My oldest son WOULD NOT let me sleep at night unless I did a few minutes of sitting trot every day.  He would do multiple somersaults and twirls when I laid down to sleep if I skipped riding that day.  I even fell off over a 3'9" jump at 4 1/2 months, so I did stop jumping for the rest of the pregnancy.  At the end I could only ride around 15 minutes, but if I did not get that 15 minutes in I did not get very much sleep that night. 

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