The rider’s position is critical to the movement of the horse. Despite the massive inequality in size between a horse and rider, it takes only a very small movement from the rider to direct the horse. These small movements should help the horse to move freely and easily follow the rider, but if the rider becomes unbalanced, blocked or tense, they serve to negatively impact the horse.
Think about carrying someone on your back. If they don’t hold themselves, their weight pulls heavily down, if they are very stiff and inflexible, they block your movement or if they sit to one side, the muscles on that side of your body have to work harder for you to stay straight. All these positions are uncomfortable for both of you, make it difficult for you to move, and makes you quickly tire. It is similar for your horse.
When a rider is not in the best position, they are less able to follow the horse’s movement through their seat and back, and often over use their hands and legs to compensate for the imbalance. Unbalanced or blocked riders can frequently be seen overriding their horse in order to try and achieve the response that they desire, but this has the opposite effect because it further blocks the horse. The solution is to re-establish your balance, release any over tense muscles and give lighter aids (see the case studies to find out more)
The most important aspect of a good position is that rider is remains perfectly balanced with their horse, moving precisely in time with the horse and not blocking in any way. In order to accomplish this the rider must put is a lot of work developing their position and balance so that they are able to correctly train the horse to their aids.
Once this becomes a natural position for the rider, they have control over their aids and can direct the horse, and the work does not end here, a rider must continue to refine their aids to develop more subtle communication with their horse. We must not forget that the horse is very sensitive to our body and will pick up on the slightest movement. Riders who are out of balance or who override their horse will always have difficulty in their training.
Training Riders, Transforming Horses
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Diane Followell Classical Dressage Trainer
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