A horse becomes a mirror image of the riders position (posture) habits. And a well-educated riding instructor see’s it and wants to help change it but is more often than not meet with resistance. You see most riders think that because they have years of experience riding or have had a few lessons the current problems they are having with their horse must be about the horse. People only want to work on training the horse not on changing their riding position. The struggle is real, I see it and yet to explain it to a rider who thinks they are only here to fix the horse and its problem can cause them to look elsewhere for a lesson or answer.
Being dedicated to help every rider that comes through the door has its challenges but it also has big pay offs. So I have decided to go ahead and be brave and try to show you how just three months of a rider being dedicated to their riding alignment, symmetry and muscle tone can benefit both the horse and rider. The pictures below are of two beautiful riding students from the NWC Equine Riding I Emphasis program. The top pictures of each example were taken at the beginning of the semester and the bottom picture of each example was taken at the end of the three-month semester (fall 2017 semester).
Before the class these two students had years of experience riding and had success competing with horses. They also had an open mind to learning and growing into a higher level of riding. The love of learning something new has not escaped them, they know it’s the only way to achieve their goals. And so they listened and applied the concepts being taught, not really knowing until the end of the semester how much improvement they had made. And I have to say it “congratulations, this is amazing”.
Here is what I would congratulate them on. First, lets look at the horses frame, the Paint horse in the top photo (beginning of the semester) has a slouched appearance dropping its neck into an upside down shape and leaving its hock well out behind itself. The horse has the appearance of pushing backwards into the rider. The riders part in this is that she is slouched and has also dropped her neck out in front of herself thus pushing all her weight down onto the horses back. Her lower leg is out of position and she is gripping her heels up thus making her ride against the back of her saddle. Therefore causing the push backwards in the horse.
Now for the Paint horse in the bottom picture (end of the semester). This horse is soft and willingly going forward with a lifted frame and correctly elevated neck and back, for its level of training. Also, it is more evenly in the bridle and driving up more with its hocks. All of this change in the horse is because of the riders daily dedication to changing her alignment into the classical ear, shoulder, hip, heel alignment. Also this rider is sitting taller and engaging the correct muscles to properly bring a horse up and into the riders seat. When a rider comes into self-carriage so does the horse. Congrats this kind of seat is acquired only through hard work and dedication to improvement. In both pictures you should be able to see the mirror image or how the riders position is affecting in the horse.
Starting with the horse again the roan horse in the top picture is dropped down onto its forehand, falling to the right and light in the hip. This horse is also behind the vertical with its face. And the rider has assumed the same position as the horse. Her hips are light and she is on her forehand leaning over the horses front legs and heavy on the right hand side of the horse. If you look at her chin you can also see that she is behind the vertical with it.
In the bottom picture you see a horse and rider that have come back into balance and look less like they are struggling to move around the arena. The rider has come back into a sitting down position and shows the correct ear, shoulder, hip, heel alignment. This in itself allows the horse to have a level top line and more evenly distributed weight over the shoulders and hips. Also the horses face is now on the vertical. It is very easy to see in each of these pictures how the horse mirrored the riders position and how the rider worked endless hours to improve her position to help her horse into a better, more comfortable frame. This rider should be given lots of credit for it is a hard thing to do to change your frame when it feels like the horse is just running away with you. Congrats.
In closing it is with much respect that I thank Maddi Edwards on the Paint horse and Masey Tippetts on the roan horse for allowing me to use their pictures in my blog. And also with much respect and gratitude I thank their dedicated, talented NWC Riding I instructor Pamila Thiel who spent hours putting together the curriculum and teaching it to these students.
Thank you for reading this blog and if you have any questions or comments please leave them below. And remember your horses frame is just a mirror image of your riding position. Work on that position and the training will come easy.