The seat of a rider is the most influential part of riding. The weight distribution and pressure through the legs are what allows us to teach our horses to go forward and,through training, these movements become more intricate and technical. This is how we make a horse ride technical movements without it seeming that the rider is moving. But how do we get to that stage?
The rider needs to learn to move his/her arms and legs independently from the torso.
- A good seat helps with balance whilst in motion regardless of the horse’s gait.
- A good seat will also shock absorb the horses movements and making it look harmonious rather than a rag doll effect.
- A good seat will influence your horse in a positive way, your horse will mimic your asymmetry.
As a rider we need to develop a strong core, meaning strong abdominal and back muscles. Whilst riding you need to keep your core engaged.
Let’s look at the correct riding position. Sit tall, lengthen the spine and keep it in neutral, shoulders back, heel, hip and shoulder alignment, engaged core so you can use your body independently of your limbs and you are not using your hands to balance or your legs to “ski” along on.
Here’s the plank position: stay long, lengthen the spine and keep your spine in neutral, shoulders back, heel, hip and shoulder alignment, an engaged core.
What’s the difference? Nothing. Apart from one plank is on the floor the other plank is on a horse.
To help you with the plank, of which there are many forms, here I am demonstrating the side plank and the full plank.
An engaged core shouldn’t mean a stiffening of the body. It should be fluid and controlled in movement, helping the horse in each movement. Being able to change your body angles to allow the horse to move freely forward. Your joints should mirror the horses.
Let’s take shoulder-in for example. Quarters on the track – keep your hips in the direction and angle of the movement and quarters. The shoulders are off the track – allow your shoulders to be in line with the horses and turn through the waist. The hands stay in the same position and your inside leg creates the bend while the outside leg brings the shoulder off the track.
Planking and it’s many forms are really important for riding. Give it a go as your own warm up before you ride. It doesn’t matter how long you can hold it for but your goal is to hold one plank for 1 minute. You will be surprised how much easier riding becomes with a strong engaged core.
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