3. Ride Right
An imbalance in your position, even a slight one, will cause an
imbalance in your horse.
Ride with your spine erect, relaxed, and perpendicular to
your horse’s spine. Sit evenly over both seat bones. Adjust
your stirrups so you have some bend in your knee. Hold your
heels directly under your hip bones and slightly lower than your toes. Line up
your chin with the center of your horse’s body (even when riding curved paths
and turns). Keep your eyes soft and focused on the road ahead.
2. Warm Up
Limber your horse with a 10 to 15
minute walk on a loose rein. Ask
him to lower and extend his neck to
stretch his spine.
Establish fluid and supple rein
contact with your hands held
slightly wider than your hips and
low in front of the saddle. Add leg
at the girth (both legs if traveling
in a straight line, or your inside leg
if you’re riding an arc) to soften
his body if he stiffens, shortens his
stride, or offers resistance.
Let the reins slip through your
fingers so he can stretch freely. Then
move up to a slow, relaxed trot or
gait on a loose rein for two to five
minutes. Next, ask for more extension
for a few minutes to encourage your
horse to reach through the shoulders
Finally, return to the walk in a
long and low frame. Conclude the
warmup with a series of walk-trot-walk, walk-stop-back transitions to
engage his hindquarters and supple
his back and loin.
Start warming up
in a low frame,
horse to stretch.
Riding downhill can
help you understand
the feeling of hind-end engagement.