Obviously to be a good rider it is all-important to maintain the correct balance when you are atop your horse. There are two big misconceptions about balance that prevent many riders and horses from fulfilling their full potential. The first is that it is possible for the rider to support the horse through the reins contact, thus preventing him/her losing their balance. It is important to remember that the horse carries us, not the other way round – it is physically impossible for the rider to support the horse's balance. We can, however, help the horse to maintain his balance by having the right speed and level of impulsion (i.e. forward thrust, when moving with controlled power).
The second misconception is that it is possible to improve the horse's balance by moving your weight further back in the saddle, regardless of the way your horse is going. In fact, this can actually prevent the horse from arching and using his/her back. If this is taken to the extreme, where the rider's weight is over the horse's hindquarters, this can cause the horse's hind legs to become overburdened and unable to function normally. The only way to get the hind legs to carry more weight is by gradual and progressive training. Developing the horse athletically and increasing impulsion will bring the weight of both horse and rider further back, as one unit.
If the horse loses his balance, he naturally slows down to regain it. This is what the rider should encourage the horse to do in order to make his balance more stable. However, because the horse has four legs, it is remarkable how well he can balance, even when his weight is too far forward. Unfortunately this also increases the strain on the front feet and foreleg, which can in turn increase the risk of injury. As a horse learns to be more evenly balanced, this strain on his forelegs is reduced, which will extend his working life. The easy way to instantly reduce wear and tear on the forelegs and improve a horse's balance is to work him going up an incline. Small hills are an invaluable resource in helping your horse achieve a natural balance.
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