Improving as a Rider

Eventer becomes obsessed with Equitation- A Journey

I personally first stepped foot on a horse when I was 4 years old. For the next 24 years I have been absorbed in getting more saddle time, doing more showing, going higher in my fences. However, each and every one of my rides have either improved or made my riding worse.

Riders have the ultimate job in acquiring body control, its like trying to perform ballet on top of a speeding train, you have to engage the correct muscles, tighten these tendons and then every single minuscule move effects a horse in certain ways. It is an incredible dance that riders engage in every single day.

Personally, my biggest task as a rider is to “hold up my end of the bargain” to stay out of the way of the horse and let them do their job. I feel if your body is in an incorrect position then your horse cannot be as brilliant as they could be. I began riding for several hunter/jumper focused clients and trainers and it brought into light how loose my equitation was. I worked towards improving myself, however I find it difficult to find people to hold you accountable!

Finding the right trainer for me

I like for someone to be nitpicky about my position as well as teach me new skills or help the horse be better. I think I know 100% my biggest faults but need some accountability to improve them. I have asked trainers to harp on me, but sometimes they don’t, or don’t find it important.

Finally this year I had a trainer hold me accountable to my two biggest faults, my left

I want to love this picture, but it demonstrates my awful left hand position. 

wrist turns out, and my lower leg was loose. She not only pointed out the issues but helped me fix my leg by taking my knee off the saddle, and called attention to my wrist. Only when Maya Black railed on me for 3 days did I have the ability and the awareness to fix it. It is still an ongoing problem, but I think it is improving constantly. She took the time to show me how it affected my horse and how I am hindering him with inconsistent contact through that wrist.

It pains me when instructors allow riders, especially in eventing where the risks are huge, to go up the levels when their position hinders their horse, or they are lacking basics. I see lots of riders who are not in their heels, rely on the neck for releases etc. It is dangerous and reflects on the trainers. I have to say THANK you to the trainers in my life who finally fixed my position. Just today a fellow rider commented that she was impressed with how far I have come with my riding and how nice it was to see someone who worked so hard for the change.

I think it is important in our industry for trainers to be disciplined within their own program to improve positions before allowing them to go further. However, for myself I am more than aware we will always be working on ourselves, working on our bad habits and striving for better. This is one of the draws to riding, our journey will never be over.


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