By Nicole Ponte
Never aspire to step foot into the equitation ring? That doesn’t mean you’re off the hook from riding with proper equitation! Position is paramount in any discipline.
Good equitation doesn’t just mean looking pretty in the saddle. It’s the basis for proper and effective riding. Focusing on developing a correct position will benefit you, your horse, and your future as a rider.
Position Affects Your Horse
If you are flopping around at the sitting trot and having trouble keeping your body in position, it is extremely difficult to cue your horse with the correct aids. In any gait, if you are in the correct body position, you are more easily able to communicate with your horse so that he doesn’t become confused.
Also, your horse can stay loose through his back and is less likely to become sore if you’re not bouncing all over the place or constantly sitting more to one side. If you do the work and take the time to solidify your position, your horse will mentally and physically benefit.
Keeps You In the Saddle
No matter how “bombproof” your horse is, you are bound to experience a few spooks, side jumps, bucks, rears, etc. If you are not secure in the saddle, you will be thrown around and off balance, leaving you susceptible to a fall. With proper equitation (strong core, heels anchored, sitting tall, etc.), you may be caught off guard, but you will be able to recover and resume your normal work without a faceplant.
Ride to the Best of Your Ability
While jumping, you want to have a steady leg with your heels down, because it helps you stay anchored in the saddle and with your horse’s jump. In dressage, you want to sit up tall with relaxed hips and follow the horse’s motion as to not inhibit him. Those general standards are established because they assist you in having the best possible ride, not just because they look nice (which they do)!
Allows You to Flourish
If you have the basic correct equitation, you are usually able to get on a horse of any discipline with confidence that you will be able to ride to the best of your ability. If you choose to branch into a different discipline that has slight nuances, your prior knowledge allows you to adapt more easily than if you didn’t have a solid position to begin with.
While equitation is more than looking elegant in the saddle, that is still another perk. I love to post my riding pictures on social media and feel confident when I have pictures of myself sitting up tall and looking strong. When riding with proper equitation, both you and your horse portray a sense of confidence and ease that is highly admirable.