Perfect Posture: Balanced rider, Balanced horse.

A rider who is functionally strong and balanced will create a strong and balanced horse. As riders, we don’t think of it as science, but strength is a biomechanical process, and correct posture is a requirement for our bodies to move as they were designed.

Kathlyn Hossack, Athletic therapist/Kinesiologist.

I read this the other day and it struck a chord with me. Then the next day the online Eldergym class was …Perfect Posture! A serendipity? I think so. I know that my posture on my horse is of primary importance. Sitting properly is how I can be effective on my horse. I am a dressage rider so I must sit upright and have my shoulders, hips and ankles lined up . It should look like I would land standing if the horse was taken out from under me. In other disciplines like the hunter and jumpers (see photos below) it is necessary to be up out of the saddle and perching forward but not for dressage.

The other important aspect of perfect posture is I must be balanced right to left on the horse. If I am leaning left then my horse will go to the left to keep his own balance.

In the right position I can be effective with all of my aids; aids to go forward, to collect, to extend, to go left or to go right. Below is a photo of Biasini and me taken by Susan Stickle in 2018 competing at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington Florida. My posture is ok but not perfect.

Below is a photo of prefect posture. Straight and upright but not tight . Able to give the most effective aids. This is my coach Belinda Trussell competing for Canada on her horse Tattoo at the World Equestrian Games in 2018.

I am always working on getting my posture better. I have a slight curvature of the spine so it may never be perfect but I am working with the Eldergym classes to get it as close as I can. When I sit up and strive for perfect posture everything goes better in the ride.

25 Comments Add yours

  1. firnhyde says:

    That right-to-left straightness is what always gets me, especially in the lateral work. I struggle to sit into my left seatbone, and end up collapsing through my ribcage in the lateral movement. These days it’s nearly too subtle to see in the mirrors, but the horses always know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Yup! I know what you are talking about.

      Like

  2. David says:

    It is more than horse riding, isn’t it. I know it takes incredible strength for my daughters to ride up and out of their saddle, and lean forward on a fast moving horse, over a fence. To ride with perfect posture throughout a dressage test, that requires strength too. Tara rode a dressage test as a favor for one her friends. She and the horse, Morning Star III, finished a close second in the class. Tara said they would have won if she did the transitions more cleanly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Ah yes the transitions. The worlds top dressage riders can make those transitions seamless. If I make a poor transition especially downward transitions Belinda will let me know about it and I will have to immediately repeat it and get it right.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s quite interesting that something that would seem like a small detail can make such a difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Yes. Horses are surprisingly sensitive and they can react differently to the smallest of differences in the riders leg position or weight. Thank you for taking the time to read the post and to leave a comment.

      Like

  4. Emma Cownie says:

    If you have slight curvature of the spine, I am not sure if it is possible to look like Belinda. What does she say about it?

    Like

    1. anne leueen says:

      It is not possible for me to look like Belinda. She just wants to see me riding effectively and getting the desired result from Biasini. She knows I cannot get my spine as straight as hers. But I must still sit up and let my legs drop and be ready to give half halts by pinching my shoulder blades together!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. dprastka says:

    This is a wonderful post and it’s so true about your posture and riding. I’m finding dressage as one of the hardest disciplines and you are such an inspiration! You’re so lucky to have such an excellent instructor! ❤️🐴

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      I am lucky. Also Belinda pushes me with no regard for my advanced age. Many other instructors would just tell me it was all good even when it was not.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. J.W.S. says:

    Another example of the connection between mind and body.

    Like

    1. anne leueen says:

      Yes indeed and also the connection between my human mind and my horse’s mind.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. cagedunn says:

    I think my biggest failing was the seat that protected my hips (broken in youth), which meant I didn’t get the straight back. Three-day eventing was fine, and jumping, but the dressage was the lowest score for that one issue.
    A twisted sacrum, a fear of the pain, and the poor horse suffers from my efforts. It’s probably a good thing I don’t ride anymore, but I do so love to watch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Your injury sounds like a tough one and you did well to ride in eventing. Fear of pain is a real issue. I have had both my hips replaced and that has been terrific as now I do not have any pain in them. I’m glad that at least you are enjoying watching horses.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The photos are beautiful, we are so much harder on ourselves than others aren’t we. You & Biasini look great. I often think of my posture when riding. I remember a horse we had sweety flew out from underneath me so fast I found myself standing on the side of the road in the perfect seated position was hilarious. (a position my instructor had told me to practice whenever I was standing still).Sweety had raced back to her paddock before I even knew what was going on. Have a wonderful week ahead pony friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Oh my! That was an experience. You have a good week too!

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Marsha says:

    My posture is not stellar. I don’t know what was wrong with your ok posture, but it looks great to me. Interesting post, Anne.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      I am tipped just a wee bit forward. And since I do not have a straight spine it is more noticeable. Belinda does have a straight spine and you can see she is absolutely straight but not tight or tense.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Marsha says:

        Okay, thanks for explaining. Anne.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. anne leueen says:

          Thank you for leaving a comment.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Marsha says:

            🥰🥰

            Liked by 1 person

  10. Tina Schell says:

    I’d have said your posture was perfect until I saw the photo of Belinda and then of course I see the difference. Honestly to sit as straight as she can I’d truly have to hurt myself! Perhaps age has something to do with it as well as strength and discipline. With your commitment to excellence Anne I have no doubt you’ll get there!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Yes age is a factor but I can’t blame it all on my advanced years. Progress not perfection. Thanks Tina.

      Like

  11. KShai1715 says:

    I rode hunters from 1992 through 2011, and dressage from about 2000 through 2006. I started driving in 2006 as well.

    I took lessons up to twice a week, with pro trainers, A circuit H/J and bronze medal winning Dressage.

    I really pursued riding because I thought I was getting better and trying to make it to higher levels of competition myself.

    Incredibly loooong story short, when posture fails… You’re riding fails and your horses suffer!

    I have not been on a horse since 2011. Towards the end between 2006 and the last ride I ever took, I started seeking major help.. bringing my concerns to my trainers, taking *more* dressage lessons so I could focus more on my position and riding and riding with 2 different instructors at the same time, on multiple horses.

    All the steps I “should have taken” to the to fix the fundamental errors in my riding that developed after 20 years….

    When I finally got to the point in my riding that I thought I knew what I was doing, that’s when things effectively fell apart.

    My trainers told me I was riding fiiiiiine . The horses told a very different story.

    Posture affects everything for good or for for bad.

    And even in carriage driving, it’s all built off dressage fundamentals. Your position affects how well you direct the horse and the horse should be moving in a dressage frame. Collected, bending, supple.

    From a carriage, everything that you can do under saddle, can be done. Even lateral movements and with the right training, passage and piaffe.

    I was working with my wonderful hackney pony on piaffe at one point. You can accomplish all of it with every size horse too from mini to draft!

    I loved riding, wish I had done better and gotten further, but I love love love driving. I was lucku enough to be able to compete with 3 different driving horses from 2011 to 2017 and train horses to drive and train and drive tandem as well.

    And I can still focus on my posture without interfering with the horse.

    For me, driving just clicked. So much dressage foundation that easily transferred over from the saddle to the box.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you for this picture of your history with horses. I think it is excellent that you are driving. That is a challenging discipline that keeps you involved with horses. I have to add that my coach only says it’s good when it really is and she reminds me about my posture in every lesson. I am fortunate that she does not just say its all ok just because I am older.

      Liked by 1 person

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