“A rider’s position can have a huge influence on a horse’s way of going, so it’s important to get it right,” says Stephen. “Having the perfect position will make everyone’s lives a lot easier – your horse will thank you for it because he’ll feel more comfortable and your hard work in perfecting it will pay off when you start getting higher marks in your dressage tests. And bear in mind that just the tiniest tweaks can make for huge results!”
Get the perfect riding position in five easy steps
1. Sit centrally in the deepest part of the saddle, with your hips square to the horse’s hips and your weight evenly distributed on your two seat bones. Make sure there’s a vertical line running through your ear, shoulder, hip and heel.
2. While your body should remain upright and not collapsed at the waist, make sure that there’s no tension running through it. Your seat, thighs and knees should all be relaxed on the saddle.
3. To help you remain in balance and absorb the movements of the horse, shake off any stiffness through the shoulders, spine and hips – otherwise you’re in for a bumpy ride and your horse will suffer discomfort through the sensitive areas of his body.
4. Make sure the lower part of your leg – below the knee – rests lightly against the horse’s sides with its weight dropping down, unforced, into the ball of the foot which should ‘rest’ in the stirrup. Your heel should be slightly lower than the toe, with the ankle remaining supple and the toe pointing forward.
5 There should be no tension in your shoulders, which will allow yours arms and elbows to hang loosely at your sides. Keep your fingers softly closed around the reins, bearing in mind that there should be a straight line passing from your elbow through to the hand along the rein to the horse’s mouth.
Buy Stephen’s book
Dressage Dreams 10 by Stephen Clarke is all about the ultimate achievement in the dressage arena – the rarely obtained, perfect 10. Meet the riders and their unforgettable equine partners who have achieved the highest score possible in the most demanding of all the dressage tests – the Grand Prix.
You can buy a special copy of Dressage Dreams 10 from the Horse&Rider Shop, which is signed by Stephen Clarke. Buy today and you’ll also receive free p&p (UK only).
Buy Dressage Dreams 10 by Stephen Clarke