Tag Archives: body language

Riding Posture vs. Riding Mindset

kate d
Rider on Aspire training course learning about the amount of tension she has in her upper body and shoulders even when just lunging her horse. Increasing body awareness is fun and allows the rider to address their effectiveness not only in lesson environment but most of all, when they ride on their own or compete. Photo credit: Jon Smith

A really insightful comment left under my Riding Emotions.. post has made me think about expanding on the subject of riding posture vs rider’s mindset…The comment said:

What I’m learning more and more is that rider’s emotions quite often tie hand in hand with their posture and body language in the saddle. Improve their mindset, and their position improves- and sometimes even vice versa- as many frustrations can be caused by those pesky bad habits. Horses can no doubt read our minds- but they can for sure read our bodies. Position biomechanics, thought process, and resulting performance are all within the same dynamic process.

By Kathma of www.katmah.wordpress.com/training

Controlling the controllable 

You see, the reason I focus 80% of my teaching efforts on the rider and about 20% on the horse is that, from my experience and observations of thousands of grassroots riders out there, it is the second relation (improved posture = improved mindset = improved performance) that provides the key to sustainable improvement.

As discussed in the comments to the other post, every person comes to this sport/recreation with own set of prejudices, worries, beliefs etc and to address them well might not be possible. Posture or rider’s seat on the other hand, is what all good instructors can teach and control. Sometimes it takes a long time – many years – to achieve lasting postural changes in the saddle but I learnt to never underestimate what effective, balanced, sympathetic seat skill can do to rider’s confidence and emotional control in and out of the saddle…

Understanding movement

It is a well known fact that both adults and children learn best when having fun. It doesn’t have to be a laugh-out-loud type of fun but when something makes you smile, you are bound to remember how it made you feel…Riding training that focuses on improving understanding of the rider’s and horse’s movement rather than just “making moves happen” builds rider’s confidence almost imperceptibly.

posture collage
Understanding meaning of posture and crookedness in rider and horse…simple but very effective exercises that make you think and never forget 🙂 Riders at Aspire Grassroots clinics at Charlton Village Stables, London (left) and Lindrick Livery, North Yorks (right). Photo credits: Bella Giles Smith (left) and Pure Essence Photography (right)

Understanding posture

Could it really be that by sitting in a certain way we can become more confident riders? Could it be that simply the way we sit instils confidence and quality of movement in our horse? And if so, how much focus on our own training need we have alongside our focus on our horse’s way of going?

From my experience, I could describe the answers like this: if I sit on a horse and correct him by 80%, his rider can correct/improve themselves and the horse by 20% (not always in absence of trainer). However, if I establish a 20% correction in the rider, they themselves can achieve a much more positive mindset and the relative 80% improvement in the horse…(also when riding independently).

Do you teach grassroots (non-professional) riders? What are your experiences? How much attention do you pay to rider’s technical and feel abilities vs horse’s way of going? Are you a rider taking lessons? How much of your lesson content with your trainer(s) is focused on you and how much on your horse? Do you think it matters?

Click on image below to watch an interesting talk 🙂

body vs mind

Video Day Wednesday: Christmas Countdown Day 6 – Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are…

I chose today’s video thinking about all the riders I have taught who suffered from various confidence crisis or are simply lacking in self-confidence with certain tasks or movements be it jumping higher, cantering bigger, letting the horse have its head…

I also thought about many trainee riding instructors I have worked with over the years who struggled with voice projection, believing in what they need to teach, believing in exercises they prepared or their feeling at ease in a big open space of an arena filled with riders to be responsible for.

I chose today’s video thinking of many riders who say “my horse doesn’t respect me”, “my horse never listens to me”, “my horse walks all over me”, “I can’t do this with my horse”…

We often seek equestrian specific advice on many horse related subjects but I think it’s important to sit down for a moment and honestly revise our own body language, how it affects us and then what message do we pass on to our horses, the animals highly tuned in to every single movement, weight distribution, muscle twitch.

It’s not about dominance or overpowering but being in control of own emotions, giving the horse confidence through own self-belief. What I liked about the below talk is the mention of cortisol levels…In my opinion that’s the key when dealing with many horses…Do let me know your thoughts if you watch the video.

If you watch  until the end I really recommend doing the little exercise Amy Cuddy proposes before you go out and work with your horse or have a jumping lesson or go for a hack or do groundwork with your horse or go out to teach or…[insert your own little challenge here]. 🙂