Are You a Sack of Potatoes?
Why is riding the correct way so important? I am often asked why I continue to study this. My first response is to say that I like to improve my skills and better understand both mine and my horse’s body mechanics, but I always follow this up with, “And to ensure I am riding in a way that keeps my horse comfortable”. Humans are notorious for falling into bad habits with posture, driving, lifting, sitting and even how we hump over our desks. Horse riding is no exception.
Many non-horsey people think that horses are so big and strong that of course they can carry us humans around no problem. And weren’t they bred for working and riding? Yes, to a certain extent, humans have interfered with nature and tweaked the genetic pool of horses to ensure particular breeds are improved upon (racehorses, carriage horses, etc). But their long backs and overall conformation lend themselves more to flight than packing a load around. So it’s up to us to make ourselves an easier burden.
So, what are the short term signs that your horse is uncomfortable under you?
- Knocking jumps
- Not tracking up
- Not collecting
- Not bending
And the long term effects?
- We don’t know…… well I am afraid to say…..it’s scary!
There are certainly some signs that your horse is not carrying herself as she should be – like weak muscles in the hind end and lower back. However, other issues could be attributed to this, such as badly fitting tack or sore feet. So how do you know?
I’ll give you an example. A lady has a horse that is physically fit and well, and all tack fits correctly. However, when riding, he ‘hangs’ on her hands and will not collect or bend. Having had the tack checked, his back checked and investigated all other avenues, the lady finally decided to get a riding lesson. Within five minutes the instructor declared the horse was not working his hind end and all his effort was being put onto the fore. She explained how the owner needed to intermittently lift her hands to request the horse to left his head (without arching his back), collect himself and thus work his hind end. Within 20 minutes the horse was tracking up and working lightly on the bit, something the rider had not experienced in months.
While this might merely be an example of bad riding to you, it is also a simple lesson for all of us that sometimes we don’t see the little things and it takes an objective outsider to see the obvious and assist with correcting it. We should never stop learning. And we should never stop asking for help.
And remember, good riding will encourage your horse to be strong in the back and hind end, thus resulting in less injuries and a longer life working and playing together.
We all know the axiom “No Hoof, No Horse” – so always keep your horses comfortable with Horse Hoof Boots; and of course, make them Cavallo Horse Hoof Boots.