Not assuming correct horse riding positions during event training can lead to severe injuries in unsupervised lessons within the show jumping and hunting circuit. New and inexperienced riders are at greater risk of injury, in particular injuries of the long bone and head injuries – the two most common forms of horseback injuries. Your spine and neck are constantly being jolted when you’re on top of your horse and learning the right position while riding can go a long way in preventing harm.
This article lists and briefly describes the 10 best horse riding positions when you’re training for events such as show jumping and hunting.
1. Align your Head with your Spine
The body’s natural support relies on the bones of the vertebra resting one on top of the other. That is why your head is safest when you look straight ahead instead of looking down on your mount. Apart from the fact that your head is too heavy to balance while bobbing and at gallop, you could lose the ability to see barriers and control your horse.
2. Shoulders Up, Chest Out
Hunching and drooping your shoulders is a bad idea while on horseback. As with the head, you need to align the sternum and the clavicles to properly balance bobbing motions as your horse begins to gallop. But this position could lead to your body tensing up. Hence, “it is best to practice rolling your shoulders when your horse is trotting and gaining a natural feel that your body is being pulled up,” says Happy Comly, owner and trainer at Comly Sport Horses, one of the leading hunter/jumper show barns in and around Texas.
3. Center your Base When your Horse is About to Jump
What this means is that leaning forward is not a good idea when your horse is about to leap over a fence. You could end up holding down the horse’s neck to balance yourself and make it difficult for it to jump. Instead, you can shorten the stirrups a few holes and stretch up so that your heels are lower than your toes. When you’re in this position, you automatically put your torso at the center of gravity. The inside of your knees come closer to the horse’s sides which makes it easier for you to be carried with the motion of your horse.
4. Stay in Step with your Horse’s Movements
The key to a good position is finding a combined center of mass in sync with your horse’s motions. Not getting ahead or falling back from your horse’s gallops could expose you to being thrown off or slow down your horse.
5. Resist the Urge to Duck Before your Horse Jumps
Riding your horse is different from riding a motorbike. You don’t need to make yourself aerodynamic before your horse lifts its front legs. The important thing is to keep your body centered and your arms free to yank control as soon as your horse makes a successful jump.
6. Don’t Lean on Your Horse or Jerk him Around Too Much
Putting weight on your horse’s neck is always bad for jumping. Use the outside reins to invite your horse to the direction you want it to circle back to after the jump. At these times you can keep the inside rein loosely rested on the horse’s back while your inside legs prod the horse to move in the opposite direction.
7. Practice putting your weight on your stirrups with the knees slightly bent
If you’re bouncing up and down on your horse’s back you are constantly hitting your horse with your crotch. This position also misaligns your center of gravity.
8. Keep your Feet Planted on your Stirrups
There will be times when you’re properly straddling your horse and sitting on it with your full weight. But do not let go of the tension on your stirrups. Losing the iron can cause you to lose balance. Instead, you should be ready to shift your weight from the horse’s back onto your stirrups at a moment’s notice.
9. Keep your Center of Gravity Low
Keep your weight on your heels when you’re standing on the stirrups. Don’t pinch or squeeze your horse with your knees when you’re trying to stay on top. This could make your knees slam into the horse repeatedly and irritate the animal.
10. Don’t Raise your Heels
Your heels need to stay low all the time. That is why it is advised that you keep your heels pushing on the stirrups all the time. Your feet should jerk from side to side instead of up-and-down. This requires practice.