Balance in the saddle

Balans in het zadel trainingstips

I often have students that have trouble keeping their balance in the saddle. They fall behind or fall forward, which causes them to loose their confidence as a rider. It feels uncomfortable for the horse too and can even lead to injuries due to compensation in their body.

What causes the unbalance?

  • your saddle is unbalanced or your stirrupleathers hang to much forward
  • the rider’s position needs to be improved
  • the riders’s is well enough developed
  • the tempo and rhythm of the horse varies too much

… and there are lots of other reasons.

The saddle and rider’s position

Of course the first thing to check is that your saddle not only fits your horse but also helps you find a balanced position. I see many saddles that either tilt the rider’s pelvis too much forward or too much backward. Then the rider will have to compensate for the unbalanced saddle in their seat and bodyposition and will not be able to use refined aids. Also the horse will have to compensate in his body to stay balanced so he loses freedom of movement.

Tempo and rhythm of the horse

The more consistent the tempo and rhythm the easier it will be to stay balanced and the easier it will be to do the exercise described below. Later, when you can easily follow the horse’s movement in the easy steady rhythm you can challenge yourself to stay balanced through changes of rhythm and tempo.

A fun exercise to improve your balance and core stability

Start with a well balanced saddle! Then go through these steps:

  1. Let your horse stand still and stand straight up in your stirrups for a while. Pay attention to this: keep breathing, rise up from your core and let your shoulders stay down, heels pointing in the direction of your horse’s tail, weight on your stirrups. And when you sit down again, make sure that your lower leg does not change position so you don’t fall back into your saddle that last little inch.
  2. Do the same in the walk, keep standing up for a few strides. Additional points of attention: bring your pelvis forward when you stand up. Also sit back before you fall back so you don’t hurt your horse’s back. Simply try again while making the adjustments in you body as mentioned under 1 untill you can stay balanced.
  3. This is the FUN part! Now you start counting strides: 1 stride up, 1 stride down, 2-2, 3-3 etc. until you can stand up 10 strides … and then you count back down: 10-10, 9-9, 8-8 etc untill 1 stride up and 1 stride down. Do this exercise untill you are totally in control of your balance.
  4. When you master the counting strides exercise in the walk you can step up the game. Do exercise 2 and 3 in the trot. Focus, count precisely!
  5. Are you good at it in the trot? Then do it in the canter. In the end you will be posting in the canter and that gives a great feeling of balance, rhythm and harmony!

This exercise really helps to improve your balance and your connection with your horse. I do this exercise regularly myself!

Balance feels good!