February 28, 2019
The word “position” is a little misleading because the word itself implies no motion. Riding is all motion and position is constantly changing. As a young equitation rider, my position was important. The aesthetically pleasing position was rewarded in the show ring. This training is intended to create a solid foundation for a rider. One of the side effects of intense focus on rider position is that often it mentally disconnects the rider from the horse and blocks the rider from feeling the horse. But position is important because the forces the rider receives from the horse are very high and must be efficiently managed through the rider’s back or there will be damage and pain. Position can also be the difference between an explosion and athletic serenity in a highly reactive horse. It can be the difference between overloading joints and healthy locomotion. So, we approach position from the horse up, focusing on how the forces produced by the horse are managed by the rider and vice versa. When the rider and horse find the most efficient body coordination, the natural consequence is a peaceful, quiet, beautiful pair. You can’t talk about rider and not the horse. The moment you combine horse and rider, there is a new system – a mutually dependent interaction between horse and rider. The horse’s muscular actions affect the rider and the rider’s muscular actions affect the horse. The two cannot be separated if you want the fastest path to efficiency. Knowing how the horse’s body works is what makes it possible to know what adjustments to make to help your horse to help you. With a rider in correct position, a horse can still make errors. Dysfunctional kinematics in a horse will place the rider in dysfunctional position. The rider needs to understand this or either confidence is smashed or the rider goes to using too much force. Horses don’t require a lot of force. Riding doesn’t require great strength – just sophisticated balance control.