How to improve your balance in the saddle

Did you know that when you walk, you activate more than 600 muscles? With this in mind, just imagine how many it takes to ride a horse – and how any muscular imbalances in your body can affect the way you sit in your saddle.

A lack of curvature, or increased curvature in your spine will have an adverse effect on your symmetry in the saddle. Your spine should curve in an S-shape, which helps it absorb any knocks and forces.

If it doesn’t, this will affect your balance, co-ordination and rhythmical skills. It may also lead to stiffness, uneven shoulder blades or a tendency to lean to one side. You will also be at a higher risk of back pain, both in your own back and your horse’s too.

Your spine provides support for your posture when you’re sitting upright and also when you’re moving and standing still. If the stabilising muscles around the spinal cord aren’t worked as they should be due to incorrect posture, back pain or an injury, they will quickly waste away, compromising it’s stability.

How to correct it

First you need to be aware of the shape of your spine, then work on changing the curvature with the help of a skilled person, such as a physiotherapist. Once you’re at this stage, exercises like the ones below will help to stabilise it.

Exercise 1

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and rotate your pelvis left and right while staying balanced on the mat, facing forwards with your eyes open. You can progress to doing this exercise with your eyes closed, which makes it harder.

Exercise 2

This exercise is a one-sided hip extension with your knees bent.

·      Lie on a mat on the floor with your legs bent so your feet come towards your bottom

·      Lift one leg up so the bottom of your foot is in line with the ceiling and push your hips into the air

·      Gently lower your leg back down and repeat on the other side

·      Repeat this 10 times on each side to ensure you strengthen both sides

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