When we are riding, it’s very useful to think about the biomechanics of the horse. How your horse moves within each gait affects how the rider needs to move in order to be in unison, and to ensure a comfortable ride for both you and the horse. In this video, I am working with Vanessa as she tries riding in a stock saddle for the first time (which takes a bit of getting used to) and it shows the before and after my explanation of “The Roll”! Full credit to Vanessa, the improvement was pretty dramatic in a short space of time, and she continued the excellent work at our recent 3 Day Spring Camp!
In canter, your horse’s hindleg comes underneath himself at the beginning of the stride, their hind quarters fold under and their front end lifts. As the stride continues, the horse stretches forward bringing the hindquarters higher and the font end lowers. As a rider you need to roll your hips (just your hips, not your whole upper body!) to fit this rhythm; roll your hips backwards at the beginning of the canter stride when you’re horses hindend “disappears” underneath you, and roll your hips forward as your horse stretches forward and lowers in front.
If you’re a bit stiff, you will tend to go up and down in the saddle and your bum will hit the back of the saddle as your horse canters. It takes practice to get the feel of it, and it may help if you get a video of yourself cantering. My top tip is to breathe out and relax your shoulders so it becomes a natural response to the horse’s movement.
Of course, learning about each gait will provide you with clues of how to move with your horse. Biomechanics is a fascinating subject and one that I am understanding more each day, particularly during my weekly dressage lessons!