Tag Archives: riding feel

A few fun ways to Increase Body Awareness and Balance Perception for Riding


But I can’t feel it…

Lack of feel for the right moment/thing/motion is something many riders struggle with and I have met quite a few who think you either feel it or you don’t.

In my experience, there are people with a very strong, natural, innate feeling of balance able to feel loses of it immediately whether they stand on their own legs or sit on a horse. They somewhat grasp the idea of equilibrium very fast. Then there are those who have very little natural body awareness. And of course, there are millions shades of variations of both in the middle.

I don’t subscribe to the notion that feel cannot be learnt. I have seen to the contrary over and over again with riders who started off with very little of it and slowly developed significantly more awareness.

Arguably, there will always be those riders whose balance is superior, even at a relatively low level of equestrian pursuits. This doesn’t mean that if yours is muted, you can’t improve.

Fun ways of Developing More Awareness and Perception

Children, although they might be falling off a lot in some cases ­čśë , do have a great sense of balance. They often sit very naturally upright with no tension in hip joints allowing for a very soft, absorbing seat. There is one thing kids do a lot of to have that heightened body awareness. They PLAY ­čÖé

I get riders to carry poles, to lunge each-other, to walk on lines, to be pulled off XC jumps, to do many exercises on the lunge, to do the wrong things (like collapsing in the waist, or carrying hands unevenly) ┬á– all with just one aim: play with balance and feel of own posture in space.

Below is a short video of several different exercises I like to use. The carrying a pole trick has many advantages. The variant you see on the video is focused on teaching the rider to feel for her upper body posture and rhythm of her steps (especially in leg yield). She tends to angle her upper body when riding lateral work so the exercise is helping her remain parallel to the fence. She can then “carry” that feel with her into the saddle.

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#Barebruary Theme for February Training!


Each rider I teach have their individual training needs and so do the horses. Occasionally I get riders on Aspire programmes to ride together to increase their spacial awareness, control, attention, focus and so they can learn from one another. Most of the time though, we run private lessons and follow individual training plans. However, there are universal riding skills that all riders out there will work on every time they ride.

One of those skills is “riding feel” – or less enigmatically put, a heightened awareness of balance and movement and ability to correct those to suit the gymnastic tasks we ask the horses to perform for us.

What’s the better way to increase all those than bareback sessions? ­čÖé I am setting up the February training focus to be under #Barebruary theme and will aim to add bareback minutes to the February lessons whenever possible. Each horse reacts differently to being ridden bareback and long sessions without saddle are rarely beneficial for horse’s back so it’s important not to overdo them.

If we can’t ride without a saddle for whatever reason, I will still aim at the “feel theme” through on and off-horse┬átraining.

Would you like to join in #Barebruary training theme? If you do, email your bareback pictures to aspire@outlook.com, post them to our Facebook page HERE or Tweet at @aspireacademy┬áadding┬á#barebruary hashtag with a few words about how bareback riding has helped you with your riding skills – I will publish your photos on the blog throughout February!