In the beginning the horse riding tips that riders are given start with the mechanics of how to control the horse with the use of reins which causes many riders to use them for balance. I have found that learning more about rhythm and personal balance are more useful for both horse and rider.
Every horse has a different rhythm just like every human has a different rhythm when walking (and other gates too). Muscle development and strength play very important roles here. If a person is not physically prepared then balance is more difficult because some muscles will not be as strong as others.
Note: These horse riding tips are best learned with a quiet horse who you can ride at a walk without constantly holding them back from going faster. If your horse is too forward for this exercise I would go back to ground training skills to acquire more control and build a stronger language. If a horse is unable to stay at a walk without feeling the need to break into a trot or faster without the riders request then they are lacking emotional control and understanding, which is a safety issue.
Horse Riding Tips #1
Posture & Balance
– While just sitting on top of a horse notice where your center of balance feels right. Imagine a straight line starting from the top of your head going down your spine and aligning with the centre of the horse’s spine too. You will be straight but without a hollowing of the middle of your back. Where your back is able hollow and your hips start will be used as shock absorbers in a way, this area needs to be flexible. It will move to the rhythm of the horse’s movement. Just like a pelvic tilt exercise. But not just forward and back together, but individually too from side to side.Think about sitting on your seat pockets. Feel every joint from your neck, shoulders, knees, ankles and roll them to feel they are loose and not jarred up. At first exaggerate the flexibility you possess. It will become quieter and quieter with practice.
Horse Riding Tips #2
Feel the Rhythm - Practise at a walk where you become a good passenger. You can either just go anywhere (within a safe environment of course) or you can be a gentle guide for your horse. The only goal is to keep at a walk and feel for the horse’s movement. Try not to steer your way through this. Your concentration needs to be on the horses’ rhythm and what parts of your body are moving in correlation with that movement.
While your horse is walking take notice of how much of your body needs to be flexible and relaxed to keep in time with the natural rhythmic motion.
Feel for your toes UP rather than pushing your heels DOWN. You will notice different muscles are required and you will have better balance in this posture.
Horse Riding Tips #3
RELAX, RELAX, RELAX!
Because I ride for the relationship side of things and I am not concerned about winning in a competitive environment I have noticed that in the show ring the rules are not designed for helping the horse and rider with balance without force. Every person has a different body type, shape and strength and that is what we work with. So my goal is to help you ride efficiently for your horse’s sake not for the judges.
Once I learn the movement of the horse I am riding then I try to influence it with my movement too. I will suggest to the horse if I move that rhythm faster, will he speed up, or if I slow down the rhythm will he notice and slow down? If I stop all together will the horse understand to stop? This is how I become not only a good passenger for my horse but a great leader too. The result will be harmony.