Posture. It’s something that many people (equestrians or not) have memories of a parent or teacher correcting them on! And perhaps this is why many riders don’t want to hear about their posture when it comes to their riding.
However, no matter what way you approach your riding, or what discipline you choose to work with your horse on, posture counts.
I believe that bad posture in the saddle accounts for 3 big ‘sticking points’ for many riders in the saddle.
1. Less Effective Aids
How you carry yourself will decide a lot when it comes to how your horse hears your aids. From the placement of the aids to the pressure to the combination to the clarity of them. Your posture will decide what your horse hears when you ask a question.
And what your horse hears, is what will determine the response you receive.
So many riders will school, and practice, and do the things over and over again. Meanwhile, they are simply reinforcing the training they don’t want. If your horse is not doing what you are asking him to do, is it possible that you might have crossed wires somewhere?
Is it possible that what you ‘think’ you’re asking and what you’re really asking are two different things due to bad posture when you ride?
2. Blocking or Diverting the Flow of Energy
The second big repercussion of bad posture when you ride is that you simply stop your horse from doing what you have asked him to do. Maybe your horse is a wonderful, patient schoolmaster. He gets it that you’re not always spot on with your aids. But because he is his wonderful self, he obliges you anyway.
He does what you tried to ask him to do… Only to be blocked by your body being in the way!
Here’s a simple way to think of this:- Imagine your horse’s back is a pipe. And imagine the energy that we want to create and move through our horse as being water. We want the water to flow through this pipe to get from the back to the front. In one end of the pipe and out the other side. Now, imagine you put a big heavy rock on that pipe. What is it going to do?
It might completely block the energy; which usually results in things ‘back firing’ spectacularly. Or it can result in the flow of water not being quite what you want. A dribble rather than a flow.
When we have bad posture as we ride, we become a little like the big rock. A tonne of potatoes or a sack of coal. Whatever works best for you ;). We literally block the energy from flowing or we negatively impact the flow of the energy. Your horse might just oblige you and do all of the things, but it won’t be close to what he could do if you stopped blocking him.
What is important to remember is that the simple remedy for all of this is to begin engaging your core and carrying yourself.
3. Your Balance when You Ride
The final point, which is just as important a point as the others, is that your posture affects your balance. If you have been struggling to maintain balance or rhythm when you ride, I am willing to bet that your posture is off. When I first moved to South Africa, riding on the back of a ‘bakkie’ (a pick-up truck) was a real novelty. Especially coming from the often wet and sometimes dreary Ireland!
What I noticed when on the back of a moving bakkie was that if I focused on correct alignment, balancing was pretty easy. As soon as any slips in concentration caused bad posture, things got a little hairy! Horse riding is the same. The more aligned you are, the more self-balanced you can be. And, simply put, the less you will have to rely on your horse to keep you on board!
An independent seat is only achievable when we work on actively aligning our bodies for optimum performance.
Aligned posture contributes more than anything else to self balance for riders. Trust me, from riding on the back of bakkies, to riding horses, to training thousands of riders, this is true!
Work on Correcting Bad Posture
So, now that we have covered why bad posture is so detrimental to your riding, what can you do about it. The good news is that posture is usually a habit. Meaning that you will have to simply train yourself to do something else. Replace it. I suggest setting aside a month of your riding time for this task.
You want to put good posture onto autopilot in your riding so that you can replace your ‘doing you absolutely no favors’ bad posture!
Set checkpoints in your riding area. If you are on the trail use fencing poles, gates, electricity poles, or anything that shows up fairly frequently to remind yourself to ‘straighten things out’. If you’re in the arena, use fencing poles, floodlights, corners, jump uprights, or other things to do the same.
Then simply make it a rule that every time you pass your ‘checkpoint’, you’re going to carry yourself.
By doing this, you will soon (within one month) dramatically improve any bad posture that has crept into your riding.
Additional Links to Help You:-
- FREE 2021 Equestrian Fitness Challenge – What You Can Do While You Ride
- Are You Working on Your Self Carriage When You Ride?
- Heels Down
- Returning to Riding – Focusing on the Basics
- Daily Strides Premium Newsletter
- Lunging for Riding
- Online Community for Equestrian focusing on Planning and Mindset
- Equestrian Virtual Lounge Online Community
- Connection; the Online Membership for Equestrians