Weight aids are often overlooked and underused by many riders. I want to help you begin to see how powerful your weight aids have the potential to be in your riding. I also want to use your weight aids to see demonstrate how power intention and focus have on your goals as well.
Less is more where your weight aids are concerned. Unfortunately, many riders seem to throw everything they have behind a weigh aid when they think they should apply one. All this serves to do is unbalance both horse and rider.
Your goals are similar. If you put all your focus and attention on a single goal, you will soon find that life, in general, will become unbalanced. And this can go against how many of us feel when we set goals. We get all caught up in the initial enthusiasm of the potential outcome, often to our own detriment.
Balance means that you have a center point where you feel happy. As everything is moving and you are moving with it, you will make continuous small adjustments to make sure that you return to ‘balanced’ all the time. Small little ‘course corrects’ that helps everything work together.
In riding, I call this the ‘balance of aids’. Yes, there may be a ‘leading aid’, however, all the other aids have supporting roles in order to keep the balance.
Life is the same. If you choose a single goal and decide to just focus all of your intention and energy on it, the rest of your life will suffer. It may be able to sustain for a while, but sooner or later, things will begin to show the strain of this unbalance.
How Most Riders Apply Their Weight Aids
Next time you’re in the saddle I want you to do a little experiment… I want you to ‘weight your inside seat bone’. This is something most riders will have heard and tried to do at least once or twice in the saddle before. What usually happens is riders go about weighting that inside seat bone with great gusto! They literally throw everything they have onto the one seat bone.
The result is that the now completely disregarded and ignored ’ non-weighted’ seat bone is just that – bearing absolutely no weight at all.
In fact, I have seen where the ‘unweighted’ side of the riders ‘bum’ has daylight between it and the saddle… This is definitely not a ‘balance’ of aids. It is applying too much focus and directing too much attention at one aid. Resulting in all the others being ignored – until they can’t be ignored anymore…
The lack of balance caused by this overweighting of the seat bone also usually results in the rider twisting their body in order to remain upright and in the saddle. They have lost alignment. Their body will, automatically and without conscious thought, work at keeping them in the saddle and off the ground!
Versus How You Can Apply Your Weight Aids…
Okay, once you have experienced the thrown everything bar the kitchen sink approach to your weight aids, I want you to now try the opposite. Sit back up straight in your seat. Make sure there is an equal amount of your body either side of the center of the saddle; meaning you’re not crooked or leaning.
Become aware of how your seat is in contact with your horse.
Use this to shift your awareness to your core. Pay attention to how, if you engage your core, you can begin having a subtle, but real, effect over your seat bones. Bring your attention to your shoulders and hips. Keep them aligned and focused on where you are going. You can also think about your legs and heels. Feel how the weight is distributed.
Invest some time playing with how, by engaging specific areas of your body in a conscious, yet subtle way, you can weight your seat bones while still allowing the rest of your aids to play their roles.
Approach Your Goals the Same Way
Enthusiasm is great and will often help you gain momentum on specific goals, especially more difficult ones. However, just focusing on one thing for any prolonged period of time will enviably result in you ignoring or neglecting other areas of your life. I see this happen with many riders; particularly when the new year rolls around.
Riders create goals that demand too much of their time, attention and resources if they are to be achieved when and where they want them to be
This ‘lopsided’ approach ends up in the riders being unable to maintain their focus for any real length of time. And this is where riders complain that they are not able to ‘make progress’ or ‘reach their riding goals’. It is important that the goals you are setting are goals that both support and will be supported by the rest of your life. Your current lifestyle, resources, and schedule.
The key to creating successful goals as a rider is to choose your equestrian goals so that they work with the rest of your life. Rather than compete with the rest of your life…
Go Find a Swing to Practice On…
Here at Strides for Success and on the Daily Strides Podcast, I devote a lot of time helping riders to understand how to channel energy in the saddle. How to direct the energy they are creating with their horse in a way that gives them the outcome they desire. It is a pretty basic element of riding and one that must be refined if you are to make progress with your horse.
Your weight aids are a great way you can begin to more effectively ‘channel’ the energy you and your horse are creating when you ride.
I would love it if, sometime in the next 24 to 48 hours, you can go sit and ‘play’ on a swing. A real-life ‘seat with two ropes tied out of something high’ swing. Notice how, first of all, you don’t actually need to ever put your feet on the ground to get you going, stopping or just swinging. Your body, and more importantly, your weight, can do all of that if used effectively and correctly.
Also notice how, if you ‘weight’ one of your seat bones, you can twist the swing. The twist can be a little or a lot depending on how much weight you’re throwing on that seat bone and when you are doing it. Once you have noticed all of this and you experience firsthand how powerful your weight and focus can be, begin ‘playing’. Engage your core. Make the movements more subtle. Work with energy. Then work against it.
Take This Knowledge Back With You In the Saddle
All of this can also be achieved by you in the saddle. You just have to first believe it and then actively begin practicing and working on it. When you’re on the swing, pay attention to how you are using your body to make those changes happen. What muscles you are engaging in and in what sequence and combinations.
Play and experiment with how much change you can have over the swing and the energy by just mindfully using your intention and your weight.
Then do the same thing the next time you are in the saddle. Play with your intention. Experiment with your weight. Notice how your horse responds and look for ways you can refine things with each ride. Also, keep in mind that if you have been ‘throwing your weight around’ up to this point, your horse might just ignore those more subtle requests initially from you. He simply won’t know he is supposed to pay attention to them. This is, again, where your balance of aids is so important.
Use your other aids to tell your horse that the conversation has changed and that you are now focusing on being a little more responsible where your weight aids are concerned!
Responsible Goal Setting for Your Riding
My goal with this episode is to show you how, sometimes, being a little too enthusiastic with our riding goals is actually the reason we fail to achieve them. I want you to think about your weight aids and how less is more. Apply this same approach to your riding goals and see what happens.
Maybe you can ‘stretch’ the timeline a little further. Or it might look like setting a goal of riding 3 days a week, rather than 5. It could even be a goal for spending one day a week just enjoying your horse’s company.
Whatever your goals are for the coming year and beyond with your horse, I hope that this will help you to set ones that you enjoy working towards as well.