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No matter what style you ride, a good effective position must have these four basic elements in order to function well.
1. Unity of the horse and rider in motion
2. security of the rider in the saddle
3. Non-abuse of the horse by the rider's seat, hands or legs
4. The riders aids used efficiently and effectively
1. Unity of the Horse and Rider in Motion – Ever heard of the old saying “Be one with your horse?” Let's face it. Riding is not a static activity. Being able to move in rhythm and balance with you horse makes your riding experience exciting and fun for both the horse and the rider.
Unity comes from the proper blend of balance, rhythm and relaxation which creates the “one with your horse” experience to which most riders aspire. Being in unison with your horse makes the entire riding experience safer and more fun by allowing for easier, more efficient control and an easier ride for horse and rider.
To achieve unity:
2. Security in the Saddle – Riding without fear of falling is the best way to have the most fun with your horse! True security in the saddle means finding a way to stay on while not holding on with your hands or legs and still move in unison with your horse.
Many novice riders quickly find that holding the front of the saddle or gripping with their calves will either put them out of balance or cause the horse to run away. Balance, distributing your weight evenly into the stirrups, spring in your legs and proper use of grip in your knees, upper calves and lower thighs are the key ingredients to being secure in the saddle.
To achieve security:
3. Non abuse of the horse by the rider's seat hands or legs – Horses were not born with riders on their backs, so it is up to us to ride in a way that works with the horse's natural efforts and doesn't cause confusion, conflicting signals or even unintentional pain.
We have all cringed when seeing a novice rider unknowingly yank a horse in the mouth, bounce up and down on the horse's back or kick the horse's sides with every stride. Riding with soft hands, quiet legs, a well balanced seat and clear signals is essential to an effective position and a safer more fun ride. Your horse will respond more willingly and you both will gain much more enjoyment from your ride.
To achieve non-abuse of your horse:
4. Efficient Aids – Communication and cooperation with the horse is a key element in good riding. It starts with position. Placing your hands, legs and seat in the correct position will allow you to use your aids (tools used to communicate with the horse) quickly, easily and effectively. Learning to balance with your horse so you are not using the reins or legs to stay on will prevent you from giving conflicting signals.
Finally, it is very important to learn how to give signals clearly and then continue to give them in a consistent manner. Changing signals on a horse and expecting the horse to understand is simply unfair and will cause your horse to ignore your signals or react unfavorably.
Good aids are the key to communication with your horse and will give you a safer, better ride!
To achieve efficient use of aids:
Legs, hands and seat in correct position
Good balance independent from your hands or legs
Clear, consistent signals