Neu Perspectives

Balancing Act

Finding balance when riding

Forget about balancing my life. I want to find balance when riding my horses.

A short list of life goals:

I strive to find balance. I’d love to be more even and confident, no matter which direction I travel. And I strive for more physical and mental flexibility in any sort of challenge thrown my way. 

Oh I’m sorry. Did I say life goals?

Ha! I meant horse goals. 

I’m not a professional trainer, and I don’t write to advise. I simply share the struggles that I encounter as a student of my horses and other riders and horsemen. And I appreciate that my audience often relates to what I recognize with my animals.

It seems that lately, I’m even more aware of my unevenness when I ride. My left arm, leg and side act completely independently and differently from my right, and it’s reflected in the muscle memory I have integrated into my string of equines. I’ve watched myself on video. I have talked at length about this with my “crew” (family and friends who I ride with), and I’ve really tried to stay aware of how I approach each maneuver I attempt when I work a horse and try to achieve balance when riding. But gosh, it seems like my horses are never the same on the right as they are on the left. 

Riding in a balanced position
A balanced horse travels straight, stays soft, drives from behind and wants to be with his rider during any sort of maneuver.
Photo by Ross Hecox

Some of us are right-handed. Some of us are lefties. And even the most ambidextrous of folks usually have a side they favor. It seems, from what I’ve experienced in my riding career, horses are no different. Some are more comfortable traveling in one direction, and others stop and turn better a certain way than the other. Often, we can integrate this deeper into our horses by the way we ride.

As horsemen, we try to recognize and assist this issue, and we strive for evenness, or balance, when riding. A balanced horse that travels straight through the reins, stays soft, drives from behind and wants to be with his rider during any sort of maneuver is the ultimate experience. But when our horse already has a side that’s stronger and more comfortable to him, and we struggle with the same, it’s hard to find that balance. It’s a challenge to make each side match the feel of the other. But hey, what a great thing to be mindful of as I work and learn. 

Regardless, my quest to be a better teacher, partner and rider for my horses is a journey I feel lucky to be taking. I’m going to continue to work on my awareness, thoughtfulness and confidence in learning . And I plan to continue striving to create a balanced product with my horse, no matter the challenge or side.

 And as I write, I realize, it wouldn’t hurt for this to apply to life, too!

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