Thursday, May 13, 2010

Science VS tradition: Level riding CONTEST

Do you ever have the problem when riding your horse.

The feeling like you are off balance.

Leaning to one side more than the other.

What is the way to fix this?
Ride with no stirrups, have a coach yelling at you to lean over to the other side, just try, try, try so hard to sit strait only to still lean on your dominant side. Impossible right?

For most people this is the right. A larger percentage of people are right handed and thus right sided so they lean on their right leg when given a pair of stirrups.

The remedy that does work is riding bareback. Bareback will give you a sense of balance, and if you are young and learning to ride you'll learn a sense of the ground too but not all of us want to risk falling off, especially on a horse that might be prone to spooks, jumps or taking off.

These are the traditional ways of learning centered riding. Sure it works but not everyone wants to ride bareback or has a pair of eyes on the ground ready to shout the second you start leaning.

There is one simple solution to all this and one lucky winner will get it.

It is this neat little invention called the Level Rider. I recieved one a year ago and boy let me tell you this is a neat little invention. I have any new rider take a spin with this baby. Even older experienced riders. They all say the same thing "I lean to the ______"

Essentially it is a level, like one you would use on a construction project, for your saddle. It is so accurate you can press one seat bone down in your saddle and the bubble will move.

It comes in Western.

Image belongs to

Or hornless/endurance.

Image belongs to

At first I found I wanted to look at it all the time. I started sitting straiter in the saddle and had a similar balance to when I ride bareback. The second I place my feet in the stirrups of a saddle I tend to lean just a bit to the right, my more dominant side. When I thought I had myself corrected I looked at the level rider and oops, I was wrong.

After a wile of riding with this neat invention I found I looked at it less and less, eventually only having to glance down after a bit. I really did ride straiter. My vice is leaning a bit forward from riding bareback so much I got sloppy. It's the muscle memory that is hard to break. The level rider helps me break that

See I think we all have vices when it comes to riding. Some are more extreme than others.
I know I have ridden in friends english saddles where the stirrup leathers were noticeably longer than the other, but were on the same hole. They were stretched from leaning to one side.

The show last weekend that I was taking these pictures at, every single rider leaned to one side. Some were worse than others. Some were hardly noticeable at all. I got it all on camera.

So get to the point right? How do you get entered to receive a neat little piece of riding science like this?

1. You must be a follower of this blog
2. Tell me what your physical riding vice is. It could be your seat, hands, heels pop up? where you look, do you hunch over or fall behind the horses center of gravity? Lets hear it! (1 Entry)
3. Make mention on your own blog about this contest and the level rider because it's such a neat piece of equipment I don't know why someone hasn't thought of it before. We need to spread the word. Make sure to leave a link to the post (1 entry)

So hear that, two ways to be entered into this contest.

I will select a winner via random generator.

So get cracking, tell your friends. We need to get this neat, new product out there in the world.

Oh and if you have any ideas for an English version of the level rider please do send them into the level rider site. The creator would love to hear them.


Shirley said...

That really is a neat gadget; a simple idea. My riding vice? I drop my left shoulder, which makes my horse do the same. Also, with my bad back I tend to be stiff in my lower back, which makes sitting the lope difficult. Sigh. Getting old sucks. I'll link to this post on my blog.

Gail said...

Wonderful way to know for sure.

My vice is riding, getting from the ground into the saddle.

Put me down for one, please.

CTG Ponies said...

That is such a cool gadget! I tend to lean forward when I ride. I ride bareback quite a bit and don't really do it bareback, just saddled. I've had hubby watch me on the ground to give me some feedback when I'm not straight since I can't always tell when I'm doing it. I'll post a link on my blog right now.

*M said...

Very cool idea. My riding vice is riding period while I'm recovering from Lyme's disease. I have the muscle tone and strength of a limp noodle! I'm having issues with all sorts of stuff that I've never, ever had before--I have fallen off my mare FIVE TIMES in January...literally, all of them from a standstill, and me simply being unable to balance!! As I've gotten stronger, I've been able to rebalance myself. I find myself wondering if I will ever be as good as I was "before" getting sick. Oh well...that's life, right?

*M said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention that I linked this on my blog.... Living With Lyme's Disease :)

Sarah said...

Very neat, and explains some thing to me, kind of! My rideing vice, if you want to call it that, is that I'm 15 years out of the saddle and apparently what little bit I know, so that now I feel very ackward and disorriented when I get to ride...but we're working ont that!

Dreaming said...

Only in my dreams do I ride without a number of vices!
Having been horseless for many years with very few hours in the saddle, many of my current problems stem from poor muscle tone and lack of confidence. I find my heels pulling up, especially as I tire. I catch myself looking down...when I'm riding AND when I'm leading the horse. Even when I'm driving my instructor had to remind me to look far ahead. I think my hands are probably my best skill set, but even then I think I tend to flatten them. I need to have some video taken so I can check my posture. I bet I'm leaning too far forward, especially at a posting trot. used to come so darn easy!

For attaching the level to an English saddle, how about a U-shaped metal (strong plastic?) clip covered in soft plastic or rubber that would slide over the pommel. One 'foot' of the clip would go into the gullet and the other 'foot' would stay on top. The level would be affixed to the top part of the clip.
Have you ever seen the clips that hold tablecloths on picnic tables? A variation on that shape might work:

lisa said...

I have lots of vices, one is not looking where I am going when I get nervous, I look at the horse! I also, lean forward all the time! Such a great idea!

Mellimaus said...

I love this idea! Looks really great.
I'm a follower :)

Umm...goodness...I'm not sure. To a point, I have a problem with every vice, I guess. The prominant one would be...being hunched over I think. I also think I ride too tense...I need to loosen up more :P And I don't roll my shoulders back enough.

I'm so excited for this! I want to try to post on Friday, and I'll definitely include the contest and level rider :)
Thank you for all the great information you post :)

Susan said...

I tend to over correct myself, then do something else wrong as I overthink leading to over compensating.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

I could definitely use that! I've never seen a gadget like that before! I know I don't ride properly. For one thing, my stirrups always seem uneven.

Jen said...

Too funny - and what a clever idea! Around here, if you're "a half a bubble off", it means you are not quite right in the head (ha). I have to say the best thing I ever did for my [English] seat was to ditch the saddle. I was amazed at the amount of improvement that occurred with that one simple exercise (boo-yeah! :o)

Susan said...

What vices? (hah hah) I also watch way too many riders who are really off center and don't know how they can stand riding that way, not to mention the poor horse. Fortunately I was blessed with really good balance and I am pretty good at feeling what's right when horseback. My vices stem more from lack of confidence. If you come across a tool to help with that, let me know, but if I win the leveler I certainly will play with it.

The Three Stooges (Lauren [14yrold human girl], Sonny [gelding], and Toby [gelding])] said...

GREAT idea!

My Vice~
I lower legs tend to flop around when I post, I don't put my hands up high enough when I go into a 2-point, and myriad of other things :)

~The Three Stooges (Lauren, Sonny, and Toby)

allhorsestuff said...

Hi Sydney!
Cool little gadget there!, which one?

Okay...last time I rode in a lesson I was constantly "throwing away" the them to my mare with a straight elbow.
She was bitted, and was trying not to piss her off-which leads to my biggest vice at the moment(in arena riding) I am intimidated by my mare when she gets mad.
So, those are my top two..both related- actually.

I have to tell you...I got to actually borrow a NURTURAL bridle last night. A beautiful leather black one. I fitted it and now am going to ride today in it on the trails with a friend.
I have a meeting with a new trainer..and am going to use the Nurtural, and see if I may conquer those two vices, this weekend!( or at least start to!)

Thanks fo
Also have an apt with the farrier for EASY WALKERS next Sunday! Will be linking to you quite a bit in the future!

allhorsestuff said...

My total comment did not type!
Thanks for all your constant and friendly,supportive help!

allhorsestuff said...

Okay...First report on the NURTURAL Bridle...on trails.

Overall, I like it, think she liked it too...a little fussy at first, but she always is, with anything new.
We were having a nice slow/controlled canter...she was low and round...very sweet...
but then...lower she went...
evading any hope of me to get her head up(A FIRST for this behavior)and then a rolling buck ensued while she was low like that! I was never in danger of being scared the heck outa my riding friend!
A little bit of lack of control I did feel.
If she does that stunt with a is sooo ugly..she tries to gogo...she will open her mouth and flail her head, with her tongue lopping about...ICK!

So, it is a disrespectful behavior...and a new tactic! But, I a still pretty much sold on the Nurtural.
I am considering the synthetic version..I ride in salt water and rain...tons!
Thanks friend...any solutions...?

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

How about using a super magnet on the back/underneath of the level, with a super magnet on the inside/bottom of the pommel of an English saddle? hat might work to hold it on.

Good luck everyone!


Rising Rainbow said...

Me, I lean forward from a soft tissue injury in a car accident. Try as I might, it affects everything I do, not just my riding. It sucks. With PT and all that stuff it got better but will never be gone, I'm told.

tangerine said...

Man, my riding vices are numerous, but my worst is breaking at the wrists. I always break when I try to be 'soft.' I have really long arms so it looks really bad, I'll have to find pictures for my blog of examples.

I'll post on my blog about the level rider soon, this is such a good idea. Getting it for an english would be tricky... hm

allhorsestuff said...

Hi again!
Well, my mare did really well in the lesson I had today with the NURTURAL bridle. The dude was not a fan of bitless.
As it turns out, I will be better off training with out him. When he told me to "See-saw" the reins for her to come into contact again...( I applied leg instead with an undetectable squeeze of the fingers) and she instantly came into my hands again..and he coo'd good/nice...I realized, I need a much more sophisticated trainer.

I love the bridle, and she was much better today. I will probably get the synthetic-
though this leather black one is sooo beautiful!
Thanks again Sydney...
You have a lovely Sunday..I hope to post a SS...if the computer lets me!

jacksonsgrrl said...

While watching the stadium jumping
jump off at Rolex yesterday, I was VERY impressed to note that two of the 10 riders were riding bitless!
Impressive! Thought you might find that interesting considering the Grand Prix level and fence heights/turns/rollbacks/speed, etc!!!
Found your blog through Kasey....
I'd enter your contest, but I ride English...DARN!

Emmi said...


I have been reading your blog for a long time and have been loving every minute of it! My vice is that my heels start rise up, ugh, it is SOOO annoying!


AareneX said...

New reader here, bounced over from allhorsestuff.

So, my #1 riding vice is a combination of dropping my right shoulder and hitching my right hip up (old injury there). My ribcage completely collapses on the right unless I'm paying attention (uhhh, like right this instant). My instructor has me working on my ribcage, rather than my hip/shoulder at the seated trot, and that seems to be helping a lot. I also drive my truck with my hand touching the cab ceiling sometimes, to strech out my core. Sigh.

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