For all riders it’s important that you are able to keep your balance on a moving horse without falling off. Moreover, each rider needs to learn to maintain balance and rhythm on a moving horse in all paces, both vertically and horizontally (jumping).
Without this ability to have and control good balance you will never become a skilled rider. And it will be impossible to ride your horse in a good balance. It’s important to note that balance is also significantly aligned with rhythm.
I often talk about balance in association with terms like stability and posture. In riding, we often talk about the rider’s posture control defined as the ability to control the body and ensure its stability.
The more we improve our balance off the horse, the better we will be on. This will not only help that beautiful sitting trot but will also help you stay centered and confident when a horse spooks or has a quick reaction to something.
Every time the horse takes a stride, we are asking the body to balance from one side to the next. The key when it comes to riding, however, is that our body needs to react with the horse’s movement and not after because if you are constantly reacting after each stride you will be continuing to try and fix your balance versus staying in balance and moving with the horse.
WHAT IF THE RIDER IS UNBALANCED?
The famous rider/trainer Kyra Kyrklund describes why balance is so important for riders: “You cannot have control over your horse’s balance until you have control over your own balance. When you are balanced, you are the leader who oversees your horse’s length of step, speed, rhythm, and direction. To be balanced, you need to have a correct riding position—you need to be sitting equally on both of your seat bones, centered in your body and strong in your middle part”. Thus, an unbalanced rider is not able to ride the horse in balance. Instead, the horse needs to concentrate on balancing his or her rider.
Balance is connected to your proprioception, which is in other words ‘body awareness’ or ability to tell where your body and its parts are in space. Without good proprioception, we do not have good balance. For good balance we need good proprioception and a reactive neuromuscular system, as well as enough muscular strength to maintain balance. This requires good reaction times and muscle coordination.