The first priority in riding well is to preserve and extend the
useful life of the horse. In order to improve the horseís
condition both mentally and physically the rider must be able to
maintain a balanced, relaxed position, give clear, effective
aids and have a thorough understanding of the horseís correct
To some degree, every rider
starts out tense, bouncy and out of balance, often with hands
and legs that involuntarily ricochet. This causes the rider to
be unintentionally rough and abusive. If the rider is not
corrected the horse will get confused and upset and his training
will degenerate. Furthermore, this unintentional abuse creates
tension in the horse, which can be both physically and mentally
harmful and is often seen in the horseís expression. The horse
can only perform its best with a rider who has sufficient
strength, suppleness, position, balance, coordination,
relaxation, and poise to give clear aids without upsetting the
balance of either the horse or rider. Ideally, the riderís
entire physique should operate as a single entity with the
On a lunge horse the rider can
focus on the feel of a balanced, relaxed position without having
to worry about guiding the horse or maintaining the tempo.
A rider with poise, who knows
exactly which aid to use, in the smallest amount, at the exact
time, to get the maximum balance and stress-free performance
that each horse is capable of can be considered an artist. As an
added bonus, the horse performs for an artist with enthusiasm!
juggler can balance a stick topped with a
plate and a monkey in the palm of his hand.
As long as the objects remain in balance
they will not fall. For example, if the
monkey stands poised, the juggler can
balance him with ease. It is not necessary
for the monkey to be stiff, but it does help
if the monkey is poised. Poise implies a
stretched steadiness to the posture - Itís
the same stretch that is used when balancing
a book on your head.
Now, if the monkey were to wiggle around,
the juggler would have to work harder at
keeping the monkey from falling.
The horse faces this same predicament when
asked to carry himself in balance with a
rider on his back. Imbalances in the rider
contribute to tension and imbalance in the
horse. The horse can carry a
rider most efficiently when the rider
himself is poised and balanced.
So, before the rider can address the horseís
balance most effectively he must first
address his own imbalances.