Trivia Challenge: Balance in the Saddle—Do You Have It?

Answer the questions, then check at bottom for the key. For more great information about horses, read H&R’s ‘The Ride’ newsletter. (Not getting it? Sign up below—it’s free!)

Illustration by Navah Rae Adams

1. True or false: In maintaining balance in the saddle at the most competitive levels of riding, your personal fitness is as important as your horsemanship skills.

T / F

2. For proper balance in the saddle, your feet should be…

A) comfortably in front of you.

B) directly underneath you.

C) more towards your horse’s flank.

3. Dropping your stirrups at all gaits is not only great for developing balance; it also boosts…

A) your leg strength.

B) your riding stamina.

C) your overall confidence.

D) all of the above.

4. True or false: When even one of your joints is locked from stiffness, the suppleness and balance of your entire body is affected.

T / F

HOW’D YOU DO? (Answers below.)

101 Western Dressage Exercises for Horse & Rider (Read & Ride)

1. T is correct. Maintaining balance takes coordination, suppleness, strength, and stamina—and these depend on an advanced level of rider fitness. If you want to improve your overall horsemanship, taking your personal fitness seriously is a must.

[HOW TO improve your fitness to be the best rider you can be.]

2. B is correct. Actually, to maintain balance anytime, anywhere—while standing or squatting, for example—you must have your feet directly underneath you. The same is true when you’re riding.

[HOW TO ‘stirrup stand’ to position your feet and improve your balance.]

3. D is correct, of course! Riding without stirrups has all these advantages, which is why it’s a favorite exercise of trainers and riding coaches.

[HOW TO drop stirrups to improve balance—and more.]

4. T is correct. When you ride, you must be able to balance while moving, and even one locked joint can compromise your ability to do this. A strong core (torso) enables you to keep a natural alignment so you can maintain your balance without causing stiffness.

[HOW TO use yoga poses to get strong and supple for riding.]

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