Is the rider more important than the horse?

Is the rider more important than the horse?
21 Jan 2016

Are you Fit 2 Ride?

Do you spend endless time and hard-earned money on the performance and comfort of your horse: lessons, dentistry tack, physio and nutrition? But have you thought about how you are actually the biggest influence on your horse’s performance?  So surely you would look at yourself first.  What if you are the one causing your horse’s imbalance or stiffness?


Have you ever thought how your posture is a major contributor to the symmetry and balance of your horse. Until recently, there has been very little focus on rider physiotherapy and unfortunately, often simple ‘pointers’ alone from instructors will not resolve the problem of rider imbalance nor achieve a satisfactory long term outcome.

Crooked rider = crooked horse. A balanced rider encourages a horse to move in its own self carriage. Riding a well balanced horse is the most comfortable feeling in the world, performance is increased, and riding is fun!  Improving your asymmetry will enable your horse to perform better, therefore improve your dressage marks.

Your horse can sometimes be restricted, in pain or not performing optimally if you are suffering from stiffness, pain, or muscle imbalance.  The ability to train your horse to be ambidextrous is desirable so obviously rider imbalance is a negative.  Your balance comes from numerous parts of your body, but mainly the pelvis and lower spine.  Riders have been proven to be stiff where the lower back joins the pelvis, not allowing it to work independently from the lower spine.  Stiffness here can prevent you developing a deep seat, therefore prevent you from getting true engagement and good impulsion from your horse = inefficient.

If you are weaker in your pelvic muscles on one side compared to the other (muscle imbalance) this will cause your pelvis and lower spine to ‘side-flex’.  This then causes you to collapse down on one side causing your shoulder  to drop.  Have you been told by your instructor that you are not straight? This could be the reason.

crooked saddle

I hear you ask,  “how do you fix it then”?  Well, if it is stiffness them gentle mobility exercises such as pelvic tilts can help.  If it is muscle imbalance then specific strengthening exercises will be beneficial such as gym ball work.  Pilates is also  recommended as good core strengthening which is beneficial for horse riders. Here are 3 exercises to get you on the road

1. Pelvic tilt

pelvic-tilt (1)

2. Bridge

bridge level 1

3. Knee Rolls





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