Rider's Posture
Horses only do what we ask them to do. Horses do not know our agenda, or what it means to carry us in balance. The horse only reacts to our actions, our weight and our balance.
In the TV reality series "Amazing Race" contestants had to ride horses in Argentina. A woman didn't know how to ride and was swaying all over the place in the saddle. Her horse tried to catch her, moving under her left and right, which of course unseated this woman so badly she started falling, caught her horse with reins, and caused him to rear. The woman fell down and everybody thought that the horse was acting up. This is an extreme case of a horse's reaction to our lack of balance. However, to some extent, this happens to all of us. We lose our balance, we give confusing aids, we use reins to keep us in the saddle and we expect our horses to deal with all that and to figure out what we want. The most amazing thing is that horses do figure out what we ask them to do. Unfortunately for them, they do this very well leaving us to believe that we are in control and know what we are doing.
I don't like the phrase "to sit" when I talk about rider on a horse. To sit is to relax, to give up your weight and balance. This is the last thing you want to do on a horse - to give up your balance, to become loose and floppy. We are not passengers on our horses. We do not relax and follow their movement. In this partnership, we must play a leading role.
A horse can give us a movement, an energy but we have to shape the movement, we have to direct the energy.
Consider these important facts about a rider's posture:
Alignment - Good posture either on the ground or on the horse starts with a good alignment. A vertical line dropped down from the ear goes through the shoulder, hip and heel. The shoulders are relaxed and down, the pelvis is in a neutral (vertical) position, and the legs are under us. Click here for more detailed explanation and pictures.
Abdomen - We often hear that riders should relax and absorb the movement of their horses through the middle. Read these facts and decide for yourself if this is a correct way to approach riding.
Hip Joints - Most of the horse's movement must be absorbed by our hip joints. If the hips are locked, all the movements of the horse's back get transfered to our spine. Click here for details.
Thighs - There is almost no talk about the role of the thighs in riding. Few fragments of information here and there. The only exception is Mary Wanless' "Ride With Your Mind" approach. The way of using our thighs in riding was my biggest discovery of all. After I understood that concept everything else just fell into place by itself. Click here for a complete story.
Muscle Imbalance - We all have it. It begins with the position of fetus in the womb and continues through out our life (right/left handedness, habits, active or sedentary life style, posture etc.). When you know your imbalances, you can work toward minimizing their effects on your riding. Read more...
Irina Yastrebova, Riding Instructor and Trainer.
My blog is about teaching, riding and training. I share what is important to me in my work with horses and riders. The writing helps me to think things over and have a better understanding of training ideas and priciples.
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