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Equine Info Exchange

And a Solution to Help Curvy Women! by Bonnie Marlewski-Probert

I received a letter asking for help fixing two problems: 1. Learning to sit at the canter and, 2. Stop coming so high out of the saddle over fences. The good news is that both problems can be fixed, and the better news is that both problems often originate from the same sources. So, if we fix one, we will often times fix the other problem at the same time.

Here are some tips that will help you solve both problems:

    1. Sometimes, the easiest way to fix a problem is to ask yourself this question; IF I wanted to CAUSE both of these problems, how could I do that? The simple answer is, I could do that if I shortened up my stirrups. Let’s look at an extreme example to make the point. Have you ever seen a jockey’s stirrup length when they are racing? Their knees are way above the back of the horse and the jockey rarely touches the seat of the saddle as a result. Using this example as the extreme, I would recommend that you first try lowering your stirrups just one hole on each side and see what the results are. Very often in life, the most difficult problems have the easiest answers.


    1. Once you have tried riding with stirrups that are one hole longer than you normally ride with, if you find that this doesn’t solve the problem, I would recommend that you practice riding without stirrups at the walk and trot as much as possible. Working at the walk and trot without stirrups will help solve the problem because your leg will lengthen naturally without having your stirrups to stand on and as you get in the habit of balancing naturally with a longer leg, you will begin to use the correct muscles and balance required to stay on the horse without using a vice grip.


  1. If you practice working at the walk and trot without stirrups, when you start riding with your stirrups again, lower them one hole and think about trying to push your heels down until they drag in the dirt while you ride. In order to do this, you will have to lower your heels in the stirrup as much as possible and that will naturally make your leg as long as it can be and that will achieve the same result as riding without your stirrups did.

Equine Info Exchange

Whether you solve the problem by lowering your irons a hole or not, I would recommend that you end each ride by cooling out your horse in the ring without your stirrups. Here is one more tip that is sure to help! As the horse walks around in the arena to cool off, practice posting to the WALK without your stirrups. This is a very hard thing to do because when you post to the TROT, the horse is doing most of the work to launch you out of the saddle, but if you try to post at the WALK, you are doing all the work with the full length of your inner thighs. Doing this exercise will not only lengthen your leg, but it will also improve your inner thigh strength to the point that you will find that you prefer to ride without stirrups all the time. One of the advantages of this is that as you become more advanced over fences, if you ever lose a stirrup while jumping you won’t worry about it at all because you will know that you are snug as a bug in a rug without your stirrups.

With practice these tips will help you lengthen leg, help you learn to sit deeper in the saddle and make you a more secure, confident rider with and without your stirrups.

Bonnie Marlewski-Probert is the author of 26 books. She is also the founder of Whitehall Publishing. For more information, visit

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