Should our riding position be more static or dynamic?
Regrettably, I am apart of a few groups on Facebook for riders, places where people ask for recommendations or advice or just share their rides for the day. These groups, although entertaining, can be incredibly frustrating to be a part of because you hear advice from all walks of life and most of the time it isn’t an educated evaluation of truly what is going in the situation.
First of all, I wish that the United States had a little more of system like Europe does for educating riding instructors, we need the American version of the British Horse Society. I do understand that Pony Club is based on many of the same principles as the BHS, however not all of us are lucky enough to have the opportunity to participate. It can be very difficult to find someone who is knowledgeable (and affordable, let’s be honest) getting good instruction is harder to come by than poor instruction.
I’ve been listening and working with a variety of instructors lately and I’ve come to a realization that riding position is much more dynamic than that. No, I’m not saying that we all shouldn’t be working towards an ideal but I think the ideal shifts depending on the different factors that come into play. These factors can be the horse's level of training, the body or head position of the horse, and the rider's skill level.
For example, I don’t think you can teach the same principles to someone who just wants to trail ride as someone who is looking to jump. There are basics yes that they should both understand but they are going to be handling some very different obstacles.
I also think your anatomy and your horse’s anatomy (and lord knows saddle fit) have a big role in your riding as well. For example, I see so many horses that are downhill, with the rider pitched forward and not understanding why the horse won’t stretch down into a frame, and who knows what is going on with the saddle in this situation! Or horses that become so bad sore because they are held too tightly in a frame, without being aloud to move freely over their backs.
Maybe that rider needs to have her body back than we would typically like to see, just to get the weight off of her horse’s forehand. And it isn’t about having the big equitation body type, but being athletic and being able to change your position and you need to give different cues and requests to your horse to make it as easy for him as possible. I've found this especially true in working on my horse's lead changes, I find my body trying to get into a position that best allows the movement I'm looking for to happen.
I think our arms and hand carriage is one spot that seems to be such a grey area, and is definitely more dependent on what your discipline is than the other pieces of your riding position. For example, I think it is almost universal to say your arm should hang straight down the elbow with a straight line from bit to elbow.
Yes, awesome, that is great. Except for when you are asking for contact and your reins are a little too long and instead of releasing on the wrong behavior you just bring your elbows back
I’m aware that isn't the 'correct neutral position' but otherwise you are teaching him the yes please throw your head in the air. Or maybe you are looking for a little more bend through your horses body and you lift the inside rein to encourage a lift of the shoulder and poll flexion. That also isn’t ‘perfect position’ but it will get your horse carrying himself better, making him more comfortable and carrying your weight better.
I’m no expert, I don’t have all the answers but this is what has been working with me. If you can think of any other examples where your position has to be more dynamic please share them in the comments below!
Meet the Bloggers
Miranda and Julia bringing over 20 years of experience in the horse industry in a wide variety of experiences and disciplines. Here on this equestrian blog we'll share our horse experiences, tips, plus advice on surviving as an adult amateur rider.