Dear HorseCity Trainer: I've been riding hunt seat for about a year now. I've switched over to dressage, but I have a lot of trouble posting now. My toes point straight out away from the horse, I fall forward, I squeeze with my knees , my knees come up, and my feet fly out of the stirrups. I friend of mine is helping me, but I unfortunately don't have a school horse who'll put up with my "unbalancedness".
My Arab is extremely sensitive, and is only doing what I tell him to do- his trot goes up and down with my bad posting, and he makes his back hollow because I accidentally tell him too. My friend lunges us usually, so I can concentrate on myself, but he gets extremely bored. Are there any exercises we can do with him instead of going around in circles and changing direction until I get out of my bad habits?
The short answer, is no. The only cure for this problem is to take away your stirrups for a few months. Since your mount isn’t thrilled about cooperating, you need to stay on the lunge line in order to concentrate on your own position.
Loose side reins, attached above the point of the shoulder, can help encourage your horse to stay round during these exercises. Also, make sure that your friend is keeping him going nice and forward and not just mincing around. It might be easier for you right now, but in the long-term it does neither of you any favors.
The easiest thing to do after you’ve warmed up a little is to remove the stirrups and leathers, and alternate rising and sitting without stirrups. You need to concentrate on keeping your hip angles open, and your heel dropped. Your knee should be open, but your calf closed. An easy way to “test” your self is to take a slip of paper or a playing card and place it between your mid-to-lower calf and your horse. Your goal now is to keep it there throughout your ride (if your calf is truly on, you can’t be pinching with your knee).
As far as your foot position, I’m not overly concerned about that right now. As the rest of your leg comes into position, your foot should relax into a more natural place.
Be sure your are sitting up straight and tall, and are keeping your shoulders, hips and heels in line. When posting without stirrups, push up from your legs, don’t lurch your upper body forward to get your bum out of the saddle (you probably won’t need to go to gym while mastering this).