What this episode is all about and how it can help you:-
- Realise what true balance is when riding
- See that both you and your horse are responsible for balance
- Begin working on establishing balance
- See how maintaining balance is a long term goal
It is a pretty important element of riding; if only from a ‘staying on’ point of view. However, as you well know, balance is so much more than keeping the horse between yourself and the ground.
It is a word we hear over and over again in the saddle. Balance. Whether we are telling ourselves, or having a trainer or coach remind us. Balance the horse. Look for balance. Maintain balance. Re-establish the balance…
And yet, balance is often an misunderstood concept. Especially when we are taking things further than just ‘staying upright’.
In this episode of the Daily Strides Podcast you will learn what true balance is and how you can begin to work towards it in your day to day riding.
Balance is an Intention
We can talk all things balance until the cows come home; however it does all rest on one simple truth. Your horse will never be truly balanced if you are not balanced.
I believe that in order for you to truly show balance, you need to figure out two things; where you are and where you are going.
Your balance is the result of a consistent intention in the saddle. Your intention to be part of a ride that is, for the most part, balanced will help both you and your horse to achieve this.
You Must Know Where You Are Now
I want you to imagine that your horses back is a plate. You, while riding your horse, are like a marble or stone on that plate. Balance is when the plate and the stone can move together, while maintaining a particular relationship with each other. We don’t want the plate to ‘tip’ thereby cause the stone or marble to roll off the plate.
The challenge appears when riders focus solely on the plate not tipping over, without considering the fact that if the stone or marble may be causing the plate to tip to begin with…
Be careful of falling into the trap of just assuming that the horse is causing you both to lose balance. Be open to the fact that your lack of alignment may be causing the lack of balance you feel in your horse.
Working on Your Alignment
If you are correctly aligned in the saddle, you are not tipping or leaning one way or the other. Horses respond differently to riders tipping or leaning. Some will try to get underneath you, presumably to prevent you both from falling over! Others will merely observe you ‘tipping’ and see it as a great opportunity to go the opposite way!
Either way, the horse will change its way of going in order to compensate for your lack of alignment.
Your alignment comes down to your basic position. Work on your position. Make sure that you remain aligned at all times when riding. This is especially true when riding transitions or changes of any type…
Your Horses Ability to Balance
When the horse is doing different things while being ridden, the balance will continuously shift and change. And this is really the true meaning of balance.
Balance is the ability to adapt and shift to things that are ever changing and moving, all the while remaining stable and, in this case, upright.
Begin observing what your horse is doing at any given point. Ask yourself what is required from the horse in this particular part of the ride. If we think about a downward transition, often what we see happening is the horse ‘falling’ onto the forehand.
If we again imagined the plate and the marble, well the marble would roll right off that plate!
This is often reversed in upward transitions. The rider becomes a little left behind. The marble rolls to the back of the plate and affects the balance…
Know Where You Are Going at All Times
We said how it is important to know where you are. However, equally as important is knowing where you are going. You must make the necessary adjustments in your body in order to try maintain the balance from ‘here to there’.
We have already mentioned transitions and, obviously, balance can be an issue through them. However, balance must also be worked on in order to maintain at all points in the ride.
Imagine trotting down the long side of your arena. You need to be aware of where you have come from (riding through he corner). Also, where you are going to and what is required of you both there. And finally, the journey between the two.
Imagine You are the Marble
So you are trotting along, thinking of yourself as this marble. Be aware of where you are in the saddle. Are you centered? Think of how you might be rolling (or tipping) to one side or one area of the plate.
Your job initially is to use your body to positively influence your horses balance.
This is where your intention becomes so important. If you have a set intention, it will help you to instantly recognise when you stray away from that.
Making Consistency a Must in Your Riding
I know, you have heard it a million times already. However consistency is really that important when it comes to riding. It has the power to change everything – for good or bad!
If you or your horse are pretty new to riding, or ‘working’ while riding, you will probably find that one or both of you will be pretty much unbalanced more often than not.
Your intention will be to consistently try to get back to that balanced state.
However, if you and your horse are more developed physically, mentally and emotionally it will differ. Your intention will then be consistently trying to remain in a balanced state for as long as possible.
Either way, it is the intention coupled with the consistency that will drive the results you get.
It All Comes Down to Doing the Basics Well
Where ever you find yourself in your riding, balance really does come down to perfecting the basics as much as possible. Initially ‘getting it right’ will be when doing one single thing. Trotting down the long side for example.
Once you have mastered your basics there, you can begin to look at putting pieces together while working on maintaining balance. Transitions both between gaits and within the gait is a good example of this.
The basics can be summed up as alignment. You position is your physical alignment. Your mindset and thoughts is your mental and emotional alignment.
True Balance is Possible; for You & Your Horse
Once you have mastered your basics, this is where you can then begin positively influencing your horses balance. When you are responsible for your balance, the focus can shift to your horse.
Over time, you can expect your horse to also become responsible for his own balance throughout the ride.
Balance; it’s pretty important!
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