Equestrians


Equestrians and PurePosture. See how to ride better and your horse happier (click here)

CORRECT RIDER POSITION: UPPER BODY (Regardless of the discipline)
by Nancy Wesolek-Sterrett, Head of Dressage Department, Meredith Manor International Equestrian Centre

Body position influences your horse whether you are standing still or moving. Correct position is the basic skill riders must master in order to progress up the riding tree. Unless you correctly position your own body, you cannot influence your horse to use its body correctly.

If you could view yourself from the side, a plumb line held by your ear should drop straight down through your shoulder, hip and heel. Try to maintain this line as you ride. If your horse were to disappear, you would be in a standing position on the ground. As a rule of thumb, if you glance down and see your toe, your leg is too far forward. This position puts you in a chair seat, behind your horse's motion, and horses will either scoot forward or slow down when this happens. Therefore, many riders may tip forward to rebalance themselves, trying to fix the problem. This compromises your vertical alignment even more. Your torso should stay perpendicular to the ground, not tip forward or backward, as you and your horse move rhythmically in balance.

Your mid-section should be lifted and firm so that your pelvis and hips can absorb your horse's motion in an upward tipping motion. Think of lifting your rib cage upward or of lifting from your belly button to your chin as a strong stick holds your spine straight. With a straight spine and firm abdominal wall, your pelvis can tip up and forward to set the rhythm at sitting trot without going faster than your horse.

As you ride, keep the image of a gymnast on a balance beam in your mind. If the gymnast does not keep her shoulders over her hips, she falls off. Like her, your shoulders must stay directly over your hips in order for you to be balanced over your horse and able to follow his motion.

The spine of the upper body joins the hip joints of the lower body at the pelvis. This is the all-important 'seat.' Without a correct seat position, you cannot influence the horse correctly.

So many riders have back or hip pain. Much of this can be eliminated by correct alignment of the spine.

It is often difficult to know if you are sitting crooked in the saddle. But I can assure you your horse certainly does. If you have difficulty getting your horse on the right lead, or if his head is cocked off to one side, of if he has back pain, chances are you are not sitting correctly.

Try this: after your ride, have someone hold your horse and square him up on all fours. Walk behind him and look at the stirrup length. If they are not equal, you are putting too much pressure on the longer stirrup leather, stretching it out. There is the evidence of sitting crooked in the saddle. 

PurePosture is specifically designed to increase the range of motion of the thoracic spine, increasing mobility in the kinetic chain thus improving your riding, reducing back pain and keeping your horse happy.