Episode 181- Three reasons it can be challenging to sit a horses lope

A listener asks how she can sit the lope or canter without popping out of the saddle. She says, “I seem to pop out of the saddle quite a bit…Some people ride so quiet in a saddle, others seem to come up out of the saddle as their horse moves. I can’t seem to sit to him as much as I try.”
In answering the question I discuss: how the horses build affects the rider, how the horses training level impacts their ability to ‘lift’ or carry a rider…and how if this is lacking it makes the horse difficult to ride smoothly, the stages where it is more approprate to sit lightly vs deeply…and several ways you can improve your seat.


Episode 181- Three reasons it can be challenging to sit a horse’s lope.mp3
Stacy Westfall: [00:00:00] I think a lot of times people underestimate the strength-building aspect of it.

Announcer: [00:00:08] Podcasting from a little cabin on a hill. This is the Stacy Westfall podcast. Stacy’s goal is simple: to teach you to understand why horses do what they do, as well as the action steps for creating clear, confident communication with your horses.

Stacy Westfall: [00:00:28] Hi. I’m Stacey Westfall and I help writers become confident, communicate clearly, and get better results with their horses. This season of the podcast is all Q&A. Today’s question is about how to sit the lope or the canter. Let’s listen to the question.

Caller: [00:00:47] Hi, Stacy. My name is Chantelle and I love your podcast. Listen to it multiple times, a lot of episodes multiple times. I just had a question on sitting in the saddle when you’re loping or cantering. I seem to pop out of the saddle quite a bit. I’ve lengthened my stirrups. I’m going to try and lengthen them all. I’m going to try and ride in my bareback pad, see if that might help my seat or I don’t know what the problem is. I’m not sure if it’s because my horse is so compact that maybe my saddle is a bit too far back on his back. But yeah, I just wanted to ask, what–what are your thoughts on that? Some people ride so quiet in a saddle, others seem to come up out of the saddle as their horse moves. And, yeah, it just doesn’t seem to–I can’t seem to sit to him as much as I try. So I thought, what’s your what’s your thoughts on that? Thanks.

Stacy Westfall: [00:01:50] Thanks for the question, Chantelle. I’ve broken this into three different ways we can look at it, and I’ve included some actionable tips. Let’s jump in to my first point, which is that you mentioned having a compact horse. I love that you kept this detail in here because Willow is a good example of a compact horse. And because of the way that she is built, she’s never going to be as smooth as Gabby because of Gabby’s build. And I think sometimes on the surface, there’s this idea that if we do the training right, that they’ll all kind of be smooth. But if you take it to an extreme and you think about loping on a very small pony with a short stride, there is a limit to what you can do with that build to make it easy to sit. So this doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do, which is everything in my next point, is all talking about the training level. But there are limitations as far as when we compare one horse to another and the ease of sitting them. That might be something for you to explore when you’re saying some riders just sit that so easily. And I think maybe the idea would be explore a little bit about which horse they’re sitting on. I always think it’s interesting that I look like I have a better seat when I’m riding particular horses, even though I’m pretty confident that I have the same seat and it’s the horse that’s changing. This brings me to the next point, which is that no matter how the horse is built, the one thing we can absolutely do is we can influence their training level. And their training level does influence their ability to carry us in a more smooth way because they learn how to carry themselves in a more smooth way. So the most frequently used word for it is collection. And as the horse understands how to travel in this collected frame. And when I say collected, let’s pause for a moment and remember that false collection is just bringing the face back to vertical and that true collection, to me it feels like riding on this basically kind of a spring. It feels like the horse actually is able to move in the trot and the canter or lope in this way that where they feel a little bit like they are–instead of saying spring loaded, it almost feels like they float depending on what–what gait you’re doing or it feels like they are touching the ground lighter with their feet. It feels like they’re kind of hung from strings up in the air, like a marionette puppet. There is this very lifted up, round feeling that happens at a certain level of collection. And as the horses reach that level of collection, they become easier to sit on. However, they don’t typically start there in the beginning.

Stacy Westfall: [00:05:05] When we look at the colt-starting, when I look at what I call elementary school, yhe horses have whatever they are gifted with naturally, and most of them don’t collect just naturally on their own. Obviously, you can watch some super high dollar sport horses that have been very bred to be there, and they’re more likely to be in those frames on their own. But let’s just talk about the general horse population in elementary school. In the general horse population, they don’t move very collected. And then as they move up through their training into what I call high school or college level, they learn how to move in a more collected frame and it makes them easier to ride. Right now I’m doing with Presto some of what I call, sometimes I call it, lovingly, I’ll call it ugly riding. And basically what it means is that I’m going through a phase with him right now where instead of me holding him in a really pretty frame, which I can do. A lot of my early training has been me lightly holding him in a frame, shaping him, bending him, counter bending him, doing all these different things. What I also like to sprinkle in at the correct stages for my horses is them riding on a loose rein. And what’s really interesting is that when I hold him in a light frame and I move around on him–and I’ve been doing this for a long time–he floats around. He’s very pretty. I mean, floats for like a early high school horse. He doesn’t mean he’s like a finished college level horse. So he moves around here and he looks drastically better than he did in the early videos that I have of him being ridden where he just had his natural, like, I’m staying upright level of collection. Now he’s got this higher level of collection when I have him on contact, and then when I turn him loose and I let him go and let him be, he actually he kind of like un-collects. He kind of looks around. He’s like, oh, and he kind of just moves in a much less collected frame. And it is truly amazing to me how much harder he is–is to sit at that moment. So I’ve been doing this for a little while and I’ll, I’ll canter around, I’ll canter collected and then I’ll turn him loose and actually work on like, like a really rough version of neck reining. Meaning it’s not very polished version, I should say, of neck reining where I turn him loose and, and he steers and he guides, but he’s not collected. And the reason I’m doing this exercise with him is because it is both a physical and a mental exercise. Mostly, I’m doing it for the mental benefits right now.

Stacy Westfall: [00:08:00] Mentally, this exercise helps build his confidence because there is something different when you turn them fully loose, there’s a different level of confidence that they get in themselves and in the communication when you do this. Then there’s also physically practicing the picking up from the uncollected and picking him back up and shifting him back into a collected frame. And by me doing that a lot, by me having him collected, turning him loose, letting him get out of frame and then picking up and putting him back into frame. What will happen eventually is he will learn to make that transition smoothly. And if I ride it really well, then he will also learn to trust my hands upon that initial contact and he will eventually begin eliminating that, what I’m calling, like the falling apart part, which is what’s currently happening in the middle. So that means I’m loping around on him. I did my lead departure. He’s kind of cute and framed up and he’s loping in this nice frame. And then I release him into a neck rein and he lopes around and the frame or whatever you want to call it, that self-carriage, he doesn’t really know how to do that yet on his own, and it starts to come apart. And I’m okay with that because of some of the other things I’m working on, like his confidence and things. And then as it comes apart, then I pick up and I put him back together again. And he’s doing lovely and yet it is remarkable how much harder it is to sit his canter when he is not in that frame. That is a perfect illustration of the difference between a horse that’s being ridden with even just a medium amount of collection versus the elementary level of collection. So let me let me break this down just a little bit more for you. So in my steering course, I really, really went into this and I go with the elementary, high school, and college. And I even divided the videos in there and labeled like, this is an example of an elementary level horse doing its exercise. This is an example of a high school level horse doing this exercise. This is an example of a college level horse doing this exercise. And the reason that I really wanted to do that is because it’s not different exercises. You can actually see the horses changing their ability to use their body as we develop their response to the aids, to the righ rein to the left rein, to the right leg to the left leg. And in there I also teach like how to turn the horse loose and how to use your second hand and slide that up there to be able to take the contact again when you’re going back and forth in the neck rein back to two handed. And the reason this was so important to me is because in the elementary level of collection that is very close to look, my horse is upright when he’s loping around in the pasture. So you watch baby foals. I’ve said it before. They go out there, they run really fast. They turn the corner, they wipe out. Because without collection, they will fall down or choose to break gait. Then when they are no longer falling down, which is preferable before you start riding them. It’s one of the reasons I waited an extra year to ride Presto, he was still falling down in the pasture. So once he figured out these rules, the first elementary level of collection is actually involved with steering, just plain steering and turning, which is very similar to how they learned it out in the pasture. And then as the horse is understanding the riders aids while they steer, because what happens is when students are learning this, the students need to actually identify, which aids am I using? Which aids am I overusing? Which aids am I under using? Which aides am I misusing?–Using incorrectly. All of these things happen. That is all stuff that we deal with in what I’m going to call elementary school.

Stacy Westfall: [00:12:09] Then when the horses move up into high school, now the rider riding this horse is now more equipped and the horse understands the use of each aid and it still goes into this high school level because we start to work on lateral work. So it’s no longer, the collection is no longer coming just from the steering and turning. Now it’s also coming from some lateral work: leg yield, haunches in. When I teach it, I teach it as stage one, stage two, and stage three because of the way that I illustrate it and because I don’t want everybody getting super technical on the leg yield. I’m teaching you how to move the body parts in these ways, and then you can put it together in anything you want. Well, when that horse starts learning, because they’ve got this clear understanding from elementary school, when we start putting it together into these high school movements, which is what Presto is doing right now. So see, what I’m working with him right now on is the upper level of where my steering course leaves off and the beginning level of where my collection course starts. And that’s when it starts to get really interesting because as we start to add this ability to be able to shape them in different ways, their collection goes even higher. So he’s at the upper level of the elementary level collection of what that level of training can give him. As I start to move him into this next level, I’m going to get even more collection, which is going to make him even easier to sit. So right now he’s easy to sit when I have him lightly collected. When I was training Willow through these stages and she went through this high school and then up into college. It is truly amazing the difference in being able to sit some of the gaits. And let’s just talk for a moment about being able to sit a medium trot, a lengthened trot, a big trot. If you watch a lot of times when riders trot on a horse in this very big trot, they tend to stand up or post. Why is that? Well, this is–I don’t–I’m going to jump ahead just a little bit. One of the reasons is because of the way that the horses are lifting or not lifting them, which is why if you watch in like the Olympics, if you watch these people are doing very, very extended, big, we’ll call them, trots and they’re sitting. How is that possible? It’s not just because they have this giant amazing horse. It is some because they have the giant, amazing horse. But Willow has gotten so much easier to ride in that big, huge trot. There was a stage there where it was like, Yeah, that is not going to happen. Like, I’m now posting as high as I can post because of the length of hang time, suspension, suspended time off the ground that I can get. And yet a lot of things in my body are like, it would be a terrible idea to sit this. But it wasn’t a terrible idea to sit this because by that point she had learned how to lift and not only lift and round for her to be able to get the hangtime, but she developed and built the strength, which is a huge part of what this high school level training is. And I think a lot of times people underestimate the strength-building aspect of it. But she’d actually built so much strength that now she was able to lift and carry me through that big trot. Well, the same thing happens in the canter and the lope. So as they learn to develop this strength and this understanding, they get easier and easier to sit on. Just earlier today, I was, I’m working Willow in a lot of reining movements now. And it’s really funny to me because I’ll be working on rundowns to sliding stops. And then a lot of times I’m doing like a rundown to the beginning of a sliding stop and trotting out the other end of it and or loping gently out at the other end of it. And that I’ll be doing this like borderline canter pirouette canter. All of her Canter work is getting so easy to ride and so effortless. So it’s a little bit funny to me that at the end of this sliding stop, and I was showing this inside the–inside the riding course that I do, I was showing this last week with Gabby and people are like, What is happening? Because I did a whole talk on whoa. And it’s so interesting to me how once you get up into the middle of high school and up with the horses, everything you do with one element–So let’s say you’re working on whoa and the upward and downward transitions. Even if you’re not reining and you’re working on the upward and downward transitions in something like dressage, so interesting how that works on the collection and how that works on their ability to lift you. And it’s so interesting to me that I’m working on sliding stops, which sounds totally counterintuitive that this would be helping her canter get better. But it is. So she’s now floating, lifting this–this little tiny, collected canter that I’m doing on a loose rein as I go around the end, because she’s just getting stronger and stronger and more confident.

Stacy Westfall: [00:17:37] So this whole thing about the training builds into how the rider sits, which is sort of where your question came a little bit more from. Like, how do I sit this? But what I want to make sure you understand is that a lot of it has to do with the horse’s training level. And one of the ways, if you are doubting that, if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking, I don’t think I believe that I’ve read 101 articles all say this is exactly how I should sit. Anybody got that going on? Have you got that little diagram with a little line going down through the shoulder and hip and heel? Have you got that in your mind? Sometimes it seems like we’re told there is a one correct way to sit. However, if you look at different disciplines, if you look at jumping and you watch a lot of jumping, you’ll notice that the way that they sit there doesn’t look that much like reining. And then if you watch a lot of reining and then you look at dressage, you’ll be like, they don’t really look like they’re sitting the same way that they are there. So then you have to start to question, is there really one way to sit or do the mechanics change depending on what we’re doing? I’m not against teaching people and I always tell people–I remember coaching a long time ago. I coached 4H riders and a lot of them were very resistant to learning horsemanship. They were like, I don’t know why I have to do this. There were some different tests that they needed to do to go up through different, you know, earning different things in 4H. And I was like, You know what? I know you want to do training, and I know you don’t see the point in doing this horsemanship thing, but you should be able to sit anywhere you want to. Just look at it like that. How do you want to sit for this next 10 minutes of riding? Can you do that? And if you can, it doesn’t mean you have to be welded together and stay there forever. It’s just a test. Can you sit with that perfect line that they all want? Because a good rider can put themselves into different shapes, so why not sit like that? And a lot of times that’s enough to, like, free you up to be able to experiment with some of these different things. Because, again, if you decide to play with like two-point position or sliding stop position or riding, you know, leg yield or half pass or transitions in dressage, you’re going to sit different for each one of those. And then it’s going to change a little bit depending on the horse’s training level. Here’s one of my favorite examples. How many times have you ever seen somebody doing a colt starting–starting colts? We’re talking about first rides where they really, really look like they were in that horsemanship position. I don’t see it. I’ve watched a lot of colt starting and it’s not the correct position all the time because of this. When you are riding in that correct position, a lot of times you have a certain level of weight in your seat that the horse may not be prepared for, which is why in colts starting, I think it’s very interesting that the way that a lot of colts starting works, it goes back and forth when I watch it, it goes back and forth between two things. It goes back and forth between sitting light in the saddle that looks a little bit more like it almost would for like–like a little bit of a, I don’t want to say a two-point position, but just to get it in your mind like a little bit like they’re not really sitting deep in the seat at all. They’re kind of like on their thighs, but they’re almost a little bit up, like keeping the weight off the horse’s back. That’s more frequent when they’re–when that colt is moving. But when they first get on, they look way more like they’re about to ride a bucking bull. It’s a–it’s a very deep-seated, prepared for a horse to buck. So it’s not because that is the most efficient way necessarily at the beginning for like doing a correct extended trot, but you’re not doing an extended trot, you’re getting on a colt for the first few moments. You know, you’re sitting deep, you’re prepared for X, Y, Z to happen. You’re asking gently and you’ll notice if you watch people that ride colts really early, they’re very good at moving their body weight around in a way that, I’m going to say it like this, doesn’t interfere. What the Colt starter is doing is they’re trying to stay out of the horse’s way in the way that they sit. And so they’re making themselves move around. And staying out of the horse’s way is a little bit different way of thinking. Then when you start moving up into even upper elementary school or high school for sure, 100%, that’s where we start at a certain point, using our body weight to influence the horse a little bit more. But if you get on those babies, you get on those young horses or those, you know, it doesn’t matter what age you started, you can start at seven years old. You get on them. If you start getting in the way and interfering right away, it’s going to feel really uncomfortable to them and they’re probably going to resist. And if that’s the first couple rides, your odds of bucking go higher if they feel this heavy seat and they feel this restriction in their movement due to the way you’re sitting. Do you see how this works?

Stacy Westfall: [00:23:03] So all of this plays together. Now let’s just jump straight into the seat for a minute. Now that I kind of cleared that up. You can work on your seat specifically in many different ways. If you have been listening to the podcast for a while, you’ll recognize some of these different ways. But the first one to know, the first thing to know is that a lot of people who decide to directly focus on improving their seat tend to get hyper-focused and stiff because of it. So bringing up your awareness that developing your seat is something that you want to work on, that helps. And if you’re one of those more rare people that you feel like you focus on it and it gets better then just continue on. But if you’ve noticed that when you want to really focus on it because you truly have recorded yourself, watched it, and you’ve diagnosed that you really do need to improve your seat, it’s not that I don’t want you to continue improving it. What I want you to do is I want you to think around the problem. I want you to focus on things like how counterintuitive does this sound? If you don’t feel like you’re sitting well and you start focusing on your seat, a lot of people get really stiff and heavy. What if you notice you’re not sitting very well and you focus on moving your body more? What? Uh huh. Yeah, seriously. So think about it like this. I frequently take my horses the–you could call it, like, the ball that you put out with the horses. Like–or–like even you can do, like, a yoga ball or something like that. But any of these exercise balls, you can bring those–I bring it into the house or I start with it in the house before I take it out to the barn and get it dirty. But if you’ve ever sat on one that’s big enough where you can actually pick your feet up off the ground when you do that and you try to balance sitting on this exercise ball, the first thing you’ll notice if you lift your feet off the ground just a little bit, is that sitting perfectly stiffly still is not a good choice. You actually want really small movements wiggling yourself a little bit left, a little bit right, a little bit forward, a little bit backwards. Because you’re actually trying to balance yourself not just by like locking into one spot. And this is especially important when you’re riding the horse, because if you just get on and you start riding, you’re like, I don’t feel like I’m really sitting in the seat. It would be interesting for you to say like, Oh, like, what if I let my seat move with that loping motion? What if I have let my seat like rock forward and back a little bit? What if I take a deep breath? What if I roll my right shoulder? What if I roll my left shoulder? Basically what you’re doing is instead of focusing on your seat directly, you’re focusing on indirectly by looking for the tension in the other parts of your body, let’s say your upper body, for example. And so another way that you can relate to this is on your own two feet, walking around and carrying a very full glass of water or doing an egg on a spoon. And then you can actually translate that on to riding your horse like ride and carry a very full glass of water or ride and carry an egg and spoon. But basically just balancing something in your hand is a really good way for you to get more aware of where you’re carrying your tension. Because if you carry something in your hand like the egg and spoon idea, what you’re going to do is realize very quickly how to use your body as a shock absorber. And this is what the colt starters are doing. This is what the early horse riders are doing. This is what they’re doing in jumping when you’re standing slightly in the stirrups a little bit or when you’re posting. What you’re doing is you’re using your legs as the shock absorber. When you sit a lot of times what happens is people aren’t used to being super flexible and mobile in their waist. So if you’re out riding your horse and you’re walking around and you let’s say you ride away from home and you turn around and you ride back towards home, and your horse is really giving you that huge, big walk because they’re like, Yep, we’re headed back, wherever that walk can happen. Maybe you can ask for it to happen. Maybe you can just, you know, turn around and head back towards the barn and you feel happen. But the reason I want the horse doing it a little bit on its own is because if the horse is doing a little bit on its own, so say somebody puts you on a lunge line, you’ll really be able to feel how, at the walk, if you let yourself, and that horse gets a really big walk, you can feel how your–your pelvis can stay in the saddle, but your waist will move a lot, especially if you’re doing an egg and spoon type thing. Well, each gait, walk, trot, canter, jog, lope, whatever you want to name them. Each gait has a different following motion. So as I’m sitting here recording this, I’m talking about the walk. I know that motion in my body and I know the motion of the trot in my body and I know the motion of the lope or the canter in my body. Do you–do you know the motions of each gait in your body? Because if you do, there’s a better chance that you have that following feel.

Stacy Westfall: [00:28:26] You mentioned in your voicemail that you were going to try riding on your bareback pad. And the thing about riding bareback is that it is a lot more like that exercise ball example that I just gave you. What happens bareback is that the tension, if you carry tension while riding bareback, you will bounce. And because you can’t balance yourself on the straps or other things, a lot of times what happened is self-preservation kind of shows up and shows you the problem. And a lot of times, if you videotape yourself riding in the saddle, which I suggest, and then videotape yourself riding bareback, notice what changes in your body. And typically the riders get a lot more mobile in their waist. And I also think it’s really worth noting that if you are riding bareback, especially if–let’s just pretend that you’re riding bareback and your horse is a little bit more like elementary school. So the level of collection is not really high. That’s when–when I’m riding bareback on a horse like that, I will really notice that when I’m bareback that I will automatically carry more of my weight in my thighs versus in my seat. So if you are riding on a horse and you’re doing bareback, which only do if you guys are going to keep yourself safe. It’s a great tool, but only if you stay safe. If you get hurt, it’s no longer a good tool. So if you’re on your horse and you’re riding bareback and you notice that when you move to the trot, that you have this desire to use your thighs to basically lighten your seat, a lot of times that is your body telling you something about the possibility of sitting on this. And you can–you can work on developing that. But sometimes it’s an actual feedback loop where like that is not sit-able. Like that’s how I trust that in my body when I do it. When I get on, I know which horses–I know the feeling of a horse that can lift me up and carry me and a horse that can’t. And I think sometimes when you guys are like, Oh, I’m not sure. You’re literally just not trusting your ability to be on that horse. And sometimes that honestly just comes from the fact that you haven’t ridden a lot of different horses and especially some upper-level ones, to be able to feel what it feels like to have a horse that can lift and carry you, but just entertain the idea. You could be right. If you go to trot around on your horse with your bareback pad and you notice that your first instinct is to use your thighs to lift yourself up just a little bit so your seat’s just a little bit lighter you’ll know that there’s probably a little bit of something there because it’s actually harder to do that, right? It’s like it requires more muscle to hold yourself up a little bit, and yet it is necessary on certain horses.

Stacy Westfall: [00:31:21] Now let’s go back to putting you in a saddle. So occasionally when I am riding around on the horses, I do it more, even interestingly, out on the trail when I’m thinking about it. Then I’ll be riding around and every once in a while I will take a hold of the front of the saddle and I’ll pull myself down into the saddle. And a lot of times when I do this, I’m doing it to test how I’m sitting in the saddle. So if I’m riding around, I’m talking about literally reaching down with one of my hands, grabbing the front. It’s not usually the horn. It’s usually anywhere on the front and pulling yourself down and feeling that go down into your legs. And when you feel it, go down into your thighs, you’ll know that you’re–that you’re feeling that really deep seat. Also know that because you’re pulling yourself down in there, you’re blocking your upper body motion. So it’s not a good long term solution, but it does give you a really clear feeling of being deep in the saddle for a moment. And so that’s one of those other touchpoints that you can use from time to time. And I do it a lot on the trail because I’m just now crossing the line where I feel like my young Stacy self who did all–I mean, I did 95% of my riding on the trails and then I went to college, learned how to train horses, and started doing a lot more arena riding. But I had so many hours of trail riding that my trail riding habits and my arena habits were actually two completely different sets of habits. And I have spent a lot of time trying to get Arena Stacy to show up on the trail. It’s one of the reasons why I do this more on the trail. I’m going to test how I’m sitting. And here’s a very interesting fact that some of you might have experienced. Growing up I did a lot of trail riding bareback. Bareback and bareback pad. When I became a trainer, a professional, was riding a lot, I would ride for hours. I mean, I would ride eight, 10 hours a day, that’s common. But I would go on a trail ride in 30 minutes and my knees would hurt. And when I really caught on to that, I was like, what is going on here? Well, obviously I’m doing something different. I mean, because I can go ride for hours at home, but I can only ride for, you know, 30 minutes out here before my knees hurt. Well, this means I’m using my body differently. And what’s very interesting to me is that I had a habit of riding more like dead weight out on the trail where when I’m riding in the arena, I have much more of the habit from training so many horses of riding very actively, very alive with all of my aids. And so I’ve done a lot of work to be able to bridge that. And what’s very interesting to me now is I can go trail ride for 2 hours and I didn’t change the saddle, I didn’t change the stirrups, I didn’t change the horse, I changed me. And now my knees don’t bother me when I go out there. And now I don’t have to think about it so much of the time. But I did a lot of this analyzing this to get there.

Stacy Westfall: [00:34:30] I consider myself to have a well-trained seat. I can go back and forth between disciplines. I can do all kinds of different things. I start colts, I finish horses, I do all of it in between, and I’m here to tell you it is not easy to sit on a horse that isn’t trained to collect to some level. When I get on a colt, I sit lightly. I sit lightly in the horses that are in those early stages of training. If it is a horse like Gabby, who has beautiful movement, then the sitting on them comes a little bit easier and faster because her beautiful movement also comes with some natural collection. If they are a horse that’s like Willow, that’s naturally a little bit more like riding a rough hamster, then it takes a little while, but it’s totally possible. As the horse grows in strength and understanding. It is so fascinating to me how accurate the depth of my seat is at reporting those changes so I can sit deeper and easier as the horse’s understanding goes. If I force myself to sit deep on a horse that isn’t moving at that level, it will feel against the movement. So if I sit deep the way that I would on the extended trot with Willow, and if I do that to Presto right now, he’s going to bog out because I’m going to block his movement. I am at a stage with Presto where I am using my weight and my seat and different things to influence him a little bit. That’s part of how he’s going to learn how to carry me. There is an art to sitting just deep enough to help enhance the movement and to teach the horse how to carry that, while also understanding that there is such a thing as sitting too deep and too early and making it harder on the horse. I really hope this helped you. I hope it sheds some light on the subject. If you are listening to this podcast and you want to take the concepts that you’re learning here to a deeper level, come join me inside my online courses. I am meeting weekly and I just posted those live weekly call times for May. You can see those over on the website. Thanks to all of you who are listening and I’ll talk to you again in the next episode.

Announcer: [00:36:48] If you enjoy listening to Stacy’s podcast, please visit stacywestfall.com for articles, videos, and tips to help you and your horse succeed.

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  1. Margine Henry on May 4, 2022 at 9:32 pm

    Stacy – I wished I knew what you know. I’ve ridden most my life without knowledge but got along. I’m currently 71yo & riding an 8yo mare. I don’t have the confidence on her that I have had on my old gelding the last 21 years. I used to love to canter but can’t get in sync with her. I know a lot of that is my hip pain & lack of confidence. She has a very nice trot but the canter is not collected. Advice?

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