Being relaxed and balanced in the saddle is vital if you wish to apply the correct aids to your horse, as well as saving him the discomfort of carrying a stiff and uncertain load.
Use the following exercises to help you achieve a deeper seat, taller body and longer legs, but make sure someone is holding your horse first!
Look ahead, then with one arm across your middle and the other across the small of your back, lean forwards as far as you can without your seat coming outof the saddle or your legs moving from the correct position. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly straighten up.
Repeat 10 times.
Maintaining your seat and leg position, twist at the waist to the outside and bend over and down towards your knee, keeping your back flat – not hunched. Hold the position for a few seconds then slowly straighten up. Do the same to the inside.
Repeat 10 times.
Circling each arm backwards in turn helps free tense, hunched shoulders and encourages tallness, as does shrugging the shoulders up and backwards in a rotating movement.
Lifting the shoulders as a pair, then dropping them is a good exercise to do, as is rolling the head from side to side to free the neck and ease tension there.
Sitting on your seat bones, stretch your legs down as far as they’ll go with your toes pointing down. Swing each leg backwards and forwards in turn, as far as they will go.
Lift each leg away from the saddle and the horse’s sides half-a-dozen times. Repeat with both legs at the same time. Progress to holding the legs out for as long as you can before allowing them to drop back into place.
Take each leg in turn, bend the knee andlift the leg up in front of you as far as you can. Still bent in this position, relax your hip and turn your knee and foot out. (Do not rest the lower leg against the horse.) Hold it there for as long as you can then push the leg and foot down and back – keep your knee and inner thigh turned out.
Repeat 10 times with alternate legs. Then try the exercise with both legs.