How To Stop Bouncing When You Ride
You’ll notice in today’s episode I have taken my stirrups away… why? Why would I do this when I am trying to show you how to stop bouncing?
It’s simple – because sometimes the way to cure something is to delve really deep into it!
This is especially true with sitting trot – a really cool exercise is sitting trot with no stirrups. It forces you to use the right muscles when you are trotting.
(Try it out yourself – as long as you and your horse are ready and safe for no stirrups!)
Riding with no stirrups can improve your balance and position which is the backbone of riding your horse well.
You just need to do the hours. I like to coach riders and make them take away their stirrups… and often when they go across the diagonal for the first time they will tip to one side. This is a good thing as this is where you build muscle awareness, moving your hips and seat with the horse.
Without this muscle awareness, when you are riding with your stirrups you don’t realise how much you are relying on your stirrups for your balance rather than using the correct muscles for a great seat (especially those upper groin muscles)!
Sitting trot and being balanced without bouncing in the saddle is a lot more about what you need to relax and let go of than what you need to grip with – especially your knees – you do not grip with your knees!!
It’s all about plugging in your seat bones into the saddle – think about what muscles you might use to connect those seat bones into the horses back.
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I’d love to hear from you how you went plugging in those seat bones, riding without stirrups down the diagonal – is it helping improve your balance and stopping you from bouncing?
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To Your Success,
Today I’m going to answer the question: How do you stop bouncing when you ride?
Ok – how do you stop bouncing? You will notice I have taken my stirrups away. Why would I do that when I’m trying to stop bouncing? Why? Because sometimes the only way to cure something is to delve really deep into it. So I always bounced when I was learning to ride, couldn’t sit trot to save my life, never did sitting trot… Until I somehow got to Novice and they went “Guess what – in your dressage test you are not allowed to rise trot. You have to sit.”
And I went, oh gosh, this is a problem. And so I sat in my dressage test and I bounced in my dressage test and I got bad marks in my dressage test and that happened quite a bit and then eventually I got better, but I got better by sitting trot – by doing it. Now – a really cool exercise is sitting trot with no stirrups.
Why is this exercise really, really cool? Because it forces you to use the right muscles. Now, all the top riders in the world, sit trot with no stirrups because it’s really, really good for us to keep making sure we’re turning on the right muscles. And then in the canter as well… oops… we are still just learning each other. He’s like “What button is that mum?”
You can do the canter with no stirrups and then we sit trot. We find our trot transitions really hard! And you just need to do the hours.
Now I like to coach riders sometimes and make them take away their stirrups. Did it recently with Grace and I said, okay, you’re going to go across the diagonal, but watch it because you might fall off the side and she went across the diagonal and literally nearly fell of the side, and then found her middle.
So that happens. Now. I was so excited that that happened because that’s where you build the muscle awareness. That’s where you build how to move your hips and your seat with the horse. Without moments like that -so if I tell her to go across the diagonal with stirrups, she goes across the diagonal with stirrups. She does not think she has a problem. She thinks everything’s fine. Now you come across the diagonal with no stirrups and it happened to me too. You’re so used to having your stirrups for balance. So you turned the horse and then you realize that your stirrups are not there! You literally do fall to the side, then you over correct and come over this way and then you come and find your center. Now you’re smart, and the next time you do it, you are going to start gripping with the right muscles to make sure you don’t fall either side. And they’re the muscles that always have to be on, they’re the muscles that keep you in the saddle. And we’re talking about these upper groin muscles here. So these muscles just up here, are what suck you in and keep you into the saddle.
You’ll notice, just trot again. My knees are loose. I’m not gripping. The minute I gripped with my knees, where do I go? So it’s not the sense of gripping with your legs, you notice my legs are really quite loose and they move and they have to move because the horses trot is a moving thing – so my ankles become my shock absorbers – so my seat can stay in with the saddle and to stay in the saddle I am using my upper groin, but my legs are loose. I don’t have tight thighs. Okay, that’s all loose and just letting gravity do its thing and it’s this connection up here that’s sucking me in and keeping me into the saddle. So give that a go.
Work on what you should tense and what you should let go of – sitting trot and not bouncing in the saddle is a lot more of what you need to relax more than what you need to grip with and that’s why most riders get unstuck. They grip and that just makes them bounce higher and harder. So you’ve got to let everything go and just go, okay, how can I connect?
I always think of Avatar. How can I connect my two seat bones into the horse’s back? So if you put your hand under your bum, you’ll notice there’s two bony bits. They are called your seat bones. Think of literally plugging them in – like imagine if the saddle literally had two holes and you just plugged them in!
And then you’re connected. So you wouldn’t bounce, you wouldn’t fall off, you wouldn’t do anything because you seat bones and connected to the saddle and the saddle is connected to the back. So I always think my two seat bones are connected to the horse’s back. I need to move with the horse and also I can influence my horse with those seat bones. If I want to collect the trot or if I want to do a bigger trot or whatever it is that I want to do, I can do that as well.
But that’s how I’m don’t bounce. By plugging in, connecting in, gripping my really upper groin muscles and letting everything else loose. Plus there’s a bit of core and a bit of stomach, which you will figure out when you come across the diagonal. So if you can do the no stirrups exercise, start doing serpentines, start doing 10m circles left and then a 10 meter circle the other way. Start doing leg yield left then leg yield right. You’ll feel unbalanced at first and correct yourself. And whenever you do that you will realise it’s a bit of oblique, a bit of stomach, so you don’t veer left and right, and that’ll really help you stop bouncing. Enjoy!