Does your horse (and your back) hate it when you sit up straight?

Does your horse (and your back) hate it when you 'sit up straight'?What do you think of when you hear the word posture? If you’re like me, and most of the horseback riders who come to my Secrets of Pain-Free Riders workshops, you probably hear your Mom’s voice telling you to “sit up straight!” Or maybe you hear an instructor telling you to put your “ears, shoulders hips and ankles in a straight line”.

‘Sitting up straight’

I don’t know about you, but whenever I tried ‘sitting up straight’, with my chest puffed out, my shoulders back and my chin tucked, I could only make it last for 30 seconds at the most. And  it wasn’t comfortable at all.

Give it a try it right now, wherever you are and notice how you feel

  • Do you notice stiffness or pain in your shoulders, neck or low back?
  • Do you notice that you’re  holding your breath?
  • Do you feel stressed or not like yourself?

‘Sitting up straight’ is what most people think of when they think “good posture”, but it causes bracing, rigidity and pain. If have any of those, you can bet that your horse does too. Bracing (or slumping) makes you into dead weight on your horse.

There’s no way your horse can move freely with dead weight bouncing on his back like a sack of potatoes.

So what do you do? Just slump down like a bump on a log? That not a very good solution, for you or your horse.

Posture without strain

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being upright, on the contrary. Upright posture without strain allows you to move easily, connect with your horse, and be clear with your aids. Posture with just the right amount of muscle tone is what I call “posture that works for you” (and your horse).

7 point “posture that works” checklist

  • I’m pain free
  • My muscles are supple
  • I feel safe and secure in the saddle
  • I’m calm and focused
  • I can easily move the top and bottom halves of my body independently
  • I can easily move my right and left sides independently
  • My horse responds easily vs. fighting or ignoring what I ask of him

If you checked off more than half of the list, good for you! You’re on your way to being a truly supple rider! If you checked off less than half, don’t worry, your posture doesn’t quite “work for you” yet.

Stay tuned for our next  post with tips on using gravity to your advantage instead of fighting against it. 
If you’re looking for help right away, contact us for a chat, in person, by phone or by Skype.

About Emily Clark

Feel free to use this article in your newsletter or on your website or blog. Just make sure to include the bio and link below at the end of the article.

Emily Clark, of TheSuppleRider.com, is an Alexander Technique Certified Instructor who teaches horseback riders of all disciplines to eliminate pain and improve their posture so they can ride as one every ride.

She’s worked with equestrians for over 11 years. She loves working with riders because they’re so passionate about what they do.

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