Improve Your Dressage Riding Position

International dressage rider Belinda Nairn-Wertman offers basic exercises that improve your riding position and feel--and get you out of the ring.

Figure-Eight Exercise

Figure 1 | Photo by Mandy Lorraine

Figure 1: In this simple exercise to improve your dressage riding position, as the horse turns from one direction to another–around two benches beside my ring, or around cones or trees or whatever you have–you can feel his hips move under your seat and become aware of how your balance changes slightly to keep you in the middle of the saddle.

You learn to follow and stay in the center. Depending on your level, you can use this information to weight your inside seat bone slightly more in canter or shoulder-in, for example. Here, as Laurenzo turns to the right, he has to put more weight on his inside hind leg; I feel his right hip come up underneath me.

Figure 2 | Photo by Mandy Lorraine

Figure 2: As we turn to the left to go between the benches, you can clearly see that my hips and his hips are aligned. I’m sitting in the center, and there’s a balanced connection between my seat and his hindquarters.

Riding Outdoors on Uneven Footing

Figure 3: As Laurenzo picks his way over the stones in the bottom of the stream, my hands are soft, out of his way, following his movement and not interfering with his balance.

Figure 3 | Photo by Mandy Lorraine

Here, because he’s just about to step up the bank, I’m leaning a little more forward, keeping my seat–my center of gravity–directly over the center of his back. Nothing about my seat or leg changes; I could be in the dressage ring.

For more from Belinda on how to improve your seat, see her article in the January 2004 issue of Practical Horseman magazine.

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