A horse can feel a fly landing on its back, so it stands to reason that he can feel it when you change your body position. Your body position and how you distribute your weight on the horse is an essential communication tool between you and your horse, according to Australian horseman Ian Francis.
Francis says that when sitting in an equitation position you should be able to run a straight line from your ear through your hip and to your ankle. In this position the rider is balanced and is sitting directly over their center of gravity. If you move either your upper body or your legs, your center of gravity on the horse will move.
When your legs change position, so does the position of your seat in the saddle. If you put your legs behind your center of balance then you’ll have forward motion in your body. If you put your legs in front of your center of balance, you’ll sit deeper in the saddle. When you reach behind you with your legs then your upper body will tip forward. This redistribution of your weight will tell the horse to move forward. If you put your legs forward, your body will settle down more into the saddle signaling the horse to slow down or stop.
Throughout a reining pattern, for instance, a rider can use their body position to influence the horse’s speed.
“The majority of the reining pattern is done at a gallop,” said Francis. “When galloping large, fast circles your body will be in the forward position but when you come back down to the smaller, slow circle your body should be more straight up and down or balanced. In stops your feet will be forward so your body is sitting down and backwards. In roll backs and turn-arounds your body will be a little bit to the outside.”
Bridget Cook is an avid horse person and frequent contributor to Barrel Horse News. E-mail comments on this article to [email protected].