Are you a petite rider? Experts give their top tips for success in the saddle

  • “You look like a pea on a drum,” is hardly the most complimentary of comments, but one that a petite rider must regularly endure, smile at and nod. But riders across the disciplines are proving that size is no barrier when it comes to getting the most out of bigger horses.

    We ask some pint-sized riders for their top tips…

    1. Focus on transitions for increased control

    “I do lots of transitions with all my horses — in the arena and out on the hills — as the more I can teach them to listen to my body, the easier it is to ride faster and trust the bigger horses.” — Ros Canter (pictured above), 5ft 2in eventer who finished fifth at Badminton on her European gold medallist, the 17hh-plus Allstar B

    2. Invest in sticky spray

    “My legs barely come below the saddle flaps, and I’ve nearly been jumped off a number of times, so I use sticky spray — Sporty Haft-Spray — on my boots to stop myself getting catapulted. Also, I do sitting trot, and lots of lengthening and shortening exercises over poles on the ground to engage the hind end.” — Scarlett Ward, 5ft 2in showjumper who has seven horses in her yard over 16.3hh

    3. Consider getting a custom-made saddle

    “I have had both my dressage and showjumping saddles custom-made by WOW, so that they fit my big horses, but the flaps are short and don’t interfere. I also have extra long reins for dressage, so that the horse can stretch fully in the free walk, as my arms are short.” — Sue Eggleton, an advanced event rider who has two 17.1hhs despite being 4ft 11in

    Continued below…

    4. Focus on your core strength

    “I work hard to maintain a strong core 
to keep my position in the saddle — lots of planking, exercises on a wobble pad, and riding seven horses a day, plus yard work and running next to kids cantering and jumping ponies.” — Elizabeth Allen, who is 5ft 3in and competes two 18.1hh-plus dressage horses

    Read the full feature about pint-sized riders, and how they get the most out of their sizeable mounts, in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (4 January 2017)

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