The rider’s position on straight and curved tracks.

During the spring, I have had many clinics at riding schools and stables around Mälardalen. If I for example ask the rider to ride on a 20 m circle in rising trot, the rider usually moves his or her center of gravity slightly inwards, just as it should be, because the rider needs to be as close to the horse’s center of gravity as possible.


However, when I ask the rider to ride in right canter on the circle, something often happens, which is that the rider leans to the inside with the upper body and the seat slips outwards.

The shoulders of the horse falls outwards so that the horse no longer tracks up, i.e. moves with his hind legs in the track of the front legs. Most riders are right-handed, which probably means that they also tend to hold the right rein tighter than the left. This also contributes to the horse falling out with the outside shoulder in the canter to balance the rider.

Susanna von Dietze writes: “The rider’s shoulders and pelvis have to be in balance with each other and with the movement required”. I often see riders struggling to shift their weight inwards on a curved track, without turning their upper body outwards at the same time.

sketch position on straight and curved tracks.

To get the horse to work in balance, the rider needs to place his or her weight slightly inwards on a curved track so that his or her hips are in the middle of the horse’s hips. Only then will the rider’s and horse’s center of gravity coincide. At the same time, the rider needs to hold his/her shoulders so that they coincide with the horse’s shoulders.

If the rider is crooked or stiff somewhere in the body, he/she often also has difficulty rotating the spine to one side. Here is a sketch that shows the position of the shoulders and hips on a curved track. At the same time, it is of course important that the rider keeps both seat bones in the saddle.

How do I position myself correctly in the saddle on a curved track?

When I give a clinic, I sometimes take the rider-horse combination into the middle of the arena to show the rider how he/she should sit in the right-hand turn.

A common comment from the rider is: “Well, now I’m leaning on the right side”. It is difficult for the rider to feel whether they are shifting their weight inwards on curved tracks, or whether they are falling outwards.
If the rider falls outwards, it could also be because the horse is not sufficiently loose on the right side.


Lena’s tips.

My trainer Lena Lilja works with the rider’s position on the pressure mat, and she has learned a lot about how the rider places his/her seat bones in the saddle. In her experience, the horses are usually a little stiffer in the left hind leg and use their power to push instead of collecting themselves.

She believes that riders tend to work more on the right rein because it is easier. This results in the rider only building collection and angulation in the horse’s right hind leg, which means that the right half of the back does not come up enough and the horse’s left half of the back builds more muscles. We all want horses that have equally large muscles on both sides.

Lena’s tip is to practice riding a figure of eight in trot. Then you can clearly see if the circles are the same size and often the left circle becomes larger than the right.
The riders needs to pay attention to ensure that their shoulders turn so that they are placed in the middle of the horse’s shoulders. This also helps to get the rider’s hips correctly positioned.

Do you have any tips regarding the coordination of the pelvis and hips? And how do you position yourself correctly in the saddle on a curved track?


Mari Zetterqvist Blokhuis