Achieving perfect balance in the saddle is a skill that riders work on every ride. Balance and developing a good seat are essential for any riding discipline because it’s what helps you achieve harmony in the saddle with your horse. Teaching kids to find balance in the saddle is especially important because it helps them stay secure and confident while learning how to ride. These 5 exercises are a great way to test and achieve proper balance in the saddle! They can be used across all disciplines, and they are especially helpful in teaching kids. It’s a good idea to practice these exercises while lunging so the person on the ground can help control the horse’s movements while the rider can focus on their balance.
If the rider already knows how to post the trot, bringing it down to the walk is a great way to work on strength and balance. This exercise encourages a strong, secure leg position which is essential for great balance. Encourage the rider to rise out of the saddle as the horse’s outside front leg steps forward, and then sit back down as the inside leg steps up. This exercise is great for kids because it’s a way to practice an essential aspect of riding while putting a focus on balance.
The addition of poles and a physically challenging position is a great way to keep kids’ interest while also working on their balance! After making sure that the stirrups are at an appropriate length, encourage the rider to get into their two-point position. This position is when a rider stands up in their stirrups and folds at the hip to be in the ideal position for jumping. Set out poles about 9 feet apart to work at the walk, trot, and canter. The rider should remain in the same two-point position at the approach and after the pole. This exercise is great for testing kids’ concentration and balance in the saddle!
There’s nothing like taking the reins away to realize how much of a kid’s balance is in their hands! Taking the reins out of the equation will focus attention back on the seat and leg. Learning independence from the hand is essential for all riders, both kids and adults. This exercise is great to do at the trot. While the horse is attached to the lunge line, help the rider either securely tie up the reins or remove them from the bridle completely. The rider should place both hands on their hips and focus on their centering their balance in the saddle. This exercise can be done at the walk, trot, and canter, depending on the rider’s comfort and experience level. If the rider ever feels unsafe or too unbalanced, it is helpful to have a bucking strap or a neck scrap that they can grab for support.
This is a fun exercise for kids because it allows them to move around in the saddle in a different way. While the horse is on a lunge line, have the rider extend their arms out to the side like an airplane. Then have the rider twist their upper bodies about ninety degrees one way, and then the other. Depending on the rider’s experience, level this exercise can be done at the walk, trot, and canter. This one will really test a rider’s balance at the more forward gaits!
When you ride without stirrups, it forces you to keep balanced in the center of the horse. This exercise is great for kids to work on their strength, and it gives them a sense of accomplishment to do this difficult task! To keep the stirrups from banging on the horse’s sides, you can cross them over the front of the saddle to secure them in front of the horse’s wither. This exercise can be done at the walk, trot, and canter, depending on the kid’s experience level.
These exercises can be very difficult for kids at first. It takes a lot of time and patience in the saddle to achieve great balance. By incorporating these exercises frequently into your kid’s riding program, riding may get just a little easier and a lot more fun!
I’ve been around horses my entire life, but my Friesian journey started just over 20 years ago. Our horses have always been a part of our family. They have traveled with us as we relocated from Vermont to New York to Iowa and finally, to Arizona. I can’t wait to share our story with you!
Dec 26, 2021
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