By JOAN WILLIAMS – The most important basics for the rider:
Basic Balanced Position (BBP)
I believe the most important component of “basics” for the rider is having a secure “Basic Balanced Position.” We use our weight, seat, and leg position to communicate with our horse. We make subtle changes in weight and position to tell the horse we are going, left, right, straight, more forward, less forward, and to change his balance to his hindquarters.
Checklist for a Neutral Basic Balanced Position:
- Are you sitting centered on the back of the horse? (stand in front of the mirror, are your heels the same distance from the ground, look down at where your legs drape, are they in the same position under you, not one leg more forward than the other)
- Are your seat bones equally weighted? (drop your stirrups and lift your knees slightly to feel the seat bones more prominently. Notice the weight, is it the same in both?)
- Are your hips positioned straight ahead? (look at where your zipper on your breeches is pointing, It should be straight ahead)
- Are your legs draped with your heels down under your hips?
- Are your shoulders over your hips and eyes looking forward above your horse’s ears?
- Are your arms hanging so your elbows are by your hipbones, and your elbows bent and elastic and the forearm a continuation of a straight line through the rein to the bit?
- Is the rein being held by the thumb on top of the rein with flexible wrists and soft movable ring fingers? (Many riders hold the rein from slipping with their pinkie and ring fingers, this locks the wrist of the rider which results in a not smooth contact of your elbows with his mouth)
- Are you relaxed and supple in your joints so you can swing with the horse’s movement, but at the same time have enough muscle tone in your core to follow his movements softly?
Any subtle shift in our position while riding straight ahead that is out of alignment “cues” the horse inadvertently. The more secure we are in our BBP (Basic Balanced Position), the smaller our aiding system can become.
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