Being straight is a focus for many riders. Often when I am in the arena I end up reminding my riders that they are not riding motorcycles; they are riding horses. From the outset, it seems like a pretty random statement to make. However, let me explain the sequence of events that leads up to me mentioning motorcycles…
Straightness is for Horse & Rider
While we always hear of how important it is for our horses to be straight and symmetrical when working, many riders will automatically just assume that they are straight or even at all times in the saddle. They are shocked when they see photographs or videos of them that show how lopsided they can often be.
Today I want to chat about a simple strategy you can begin implementing the next time in the saddle that will help you become more mindful of how even you are actually sitting when working and schooling your horse.
When you are riding, do you ever take the time to glance down to catch a quick glimpse of your hands? If so, have you noticed that one is sometimes definitely higher or lower than the other?
In my experience, this ‘little’ problem is the cause of a lot of other bigger issues that many riders deal with on a daily basis. It is also a ‘little’ problem, which if not corrected early, can cause big problems later, as it generally leads to an unstable foundation all around.
Straight Through Your Shoulders
As you ride today, I want you to be aware of how equal the level of your hands is. Remember your hands are connected to your arms, which in turn connect to your shoulders. When your hand drops it is usually followed by that same shoulder. When your shoulder drops, it leads to a whole hornet’s nest of issues, making your awareness of this potential riding habit crucial to your straightness when riding.
I want you to pay particular attention to the level of your hands when on circles, bends, or turning. It is during these times, your hands are almost being invited to behave badly! Watch that while you open your inside hand, you don’t drop the inside hand.
The result of dropping your inside hand is often the ‘motorcycle rider’; leaning to the inside with your shoulders as you travel around the bend.
If you are inclined to do this, you will find the direct consequence of dropping your inside shoulder is your seat-bones and hips move towards the outside of the saddle, which is the exact opposite of where you want your weight to be around the corner.
Becoming aware of this happening is the first step towards correcting or preventing it.