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Start With Your Stirrups

February 18, 2013

Your stirrups can be an important aspect in keeping your balance during turns.

Ask an ExpertQuestion:

I’m having trouble keeping my balance while making fast turns with my horse. If you have any advice for me, that would be a major help!

For the answer to this question, we consulted Certified Horsemanship Association Instructor Anne Brzezicki.

Answer:

Wow, this brings to mind several possible scenarios, and more information would be helpful!

That said, make certain your stirrups are a length to support your balance on a turn. Try shortening them

a couple of holes and see if that helps. Work on

stepping into both stirrups with your legs underneath you where it will help balance you (like when you’re standing or walking on foot) rather than letting them get way out in front or behind you. Once your stirrups can support your balance, try to “look” around the turns with your collar bones and not collapse your outside (of the turn) ribcage and fall into it. A little lean at speed is manageable, but better balance helps everything, including your final time!

Next I would ask – does your horse lose balance and drop his shoulder into the turn? If so, work the turns at a walk, then ever increasing speeds over a couple of months to help your horse gain better balance, asking him to move off your inside leg so he can eventually turn around your inside leg instead of leaning on your leg. While the forces of a turn at speed are different, the mechanics of all turns need to be established at slower speeds, and gradually increased, and that’s true for both horses and riders.

- – Anne Brzezicki, Certified Horsemanship Association instructor