How to Get Better Balance While Riding a Horse

Balance in the saddle may seem an easy feat to accomplish but, in fact, can be quite difficult to achieve and maintain. Obtaining balance over a horse’s constantly changing center of gravity and being able to follow the horse’s motion in all paces takes time to learn. Many factors such as poor body use and lack of muscle development play a part in the rider’s ability to achieve and maintain balance.

A rider who struggles to achieve balance will take actions to help them stay in the saddle: for example, holding the reins too tight, which in turn pulls the body forward; or not sitting upright in the saddle but slumping, which not only makes for very untidy riding but can increase the weight for the horse to carry.

Riding a Horse

Off the horse

A useful exercise to help you understand the riding position and get a feel for it without having to think about the horse is as follows:

  • Stand with your feet about 2 ft (60 cm) apart and body upright.
  • Bend your knees slightly.
  • Glance down to check that you can just see your toes, which should be under your knees.
  • Look ahead again.
  • Check you are standing squarely on both feet with toes pointing forward.
  • Your weight should be even on both feet.

You should be able to hold this position for quite a while. When you sit in the saddle, your position should then feel more familiar and easier to maintain.

On the lunge line

Working on the lunge with an instructor or colleague is one of the best ways to improve balance. The instructor will take control of the horse, leaving you free to concentrate on your position and balance. You can perform a wide variety of useful exercises on the lunge.

In the school

The following exercises to help balance and co-ordination can be done by yourself in the school:

  • Keep your seat out of the saddle for three strides. In trot, rise for three strides, stay out of the saddle for three strides, then rise again. Alternatively, sit for a few strides (not too many), then rise, then sit again.
  • Ride without stirrups. Quit and cross your stirrups and check that you are sitting correctly. Aim to keep your legs and feet in the same position as when you have your stirrups. Start in walk and progress to trot. Try canter if walk and trot work is satisfactory.

Filed Under: Arts & Entertainment


About the Author: Fred Goodson has a passion for pets and animals. He has 4 dogs and is planning to have another one. He is also a blogger who writes about pets and animals. Currently, he is living in New Jersey.

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