How to achieve the perfect dressage position

  • We would all love to look like Carl Hester or Charlotte Dujardin while doing flatwork with our horses. To help you on your way, here are some useful tips to help you work towards improving your position.

    1. Three points

    Focus on obtaining the three connection points with your seat — your crotch and two seat bones in the deepest part of your saddle. Make sure your body is symmetrical on each side. If you sit ‘wonky’ then your horse will learn to adjust to you and also become crooked in his ridden work.

    2. Long legs

    Even if you don’t have long legs, it is important that you still think ‘long’ with your legs. Stretch your thigh back from your hip, pointing your knee towards the ground. Let your calf fall below your knee and push towards the ground. Keep weight in your heel, not your toe. Stay relaxed, and try as hard as possible not to grip with any part of your leg — the most common part of the leg that riders grip with is the knee and thigh so look out for this.

    3. Upper body

    Think ‘tall’ through your body by stretching your abdominal muscles upwards, which will in turn lengthen your back. Think of stacking your upper body on the three points of your seat. Viewed from the side, you want to have a straight line from your ear to your shoulder, hip and heel.

    4. Core strength

    The world’s top riders work very hard on having as much strength as possible through their core. This help riders to follow the movement of their horses freely, without collapsing and losing balance. Exercises such as sit ups and the plank, plus gym classes like pilates can really help to improve your core strength.

    5. Lunge

    Doing ridden work while on the lunge helps you to concentrate on your position and balance. It can make you realise how dependent you are on your reins and it can help develop a longer leg and deeper seat which helps you to follow motion of horse. Warm up with stirrups and then take them away, working from walk up to canter. You can take your stirrups back at the end of the session to help you feel the improvement.

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