Core Stability for the Rider
Core stability is a very important thing for the horse rider to have. Controlling the horse is not about pulling on the reins and kicking with the legs- far from it.
The rider has to use their whole body, and move exactly with the horse to remain in harmony and balance. The difference is similar to dancing with a professional partner who guides you every step of the way, or dancing with someone who has no sense of rhythm and is continually stepping on your toes!
What are the core muscles?
The core muscles are the middle part of the rider’s upper body-rather like a ‘tree trunk’- linking the top part (shoulders) to the bottom part (hips). These muscles act as a ‘control tower’. Without them, the rider would just flop around on top of the horse and have little control over their co-ordination of the rein, leg and seat aids. Without core strength, (toned stomach and back muscles) the rider would appear to be ‘cut in two’ with a saggy middle, with the hips unstable, and the upper body rocking backwards and forwards- not very pleasant for the horse!
Upper body control
Standing in a balanced, correct position, the upper body must be upright, from the hips upwards, the shoulders back and down, the elbows by the sides, and the hands parallel as though holding a tea tray. The rider should look forwards between the horse’s ears, with the chin level with the chest.
Lower body control
The hips are the rider’s ‘gear box’, allowing the movement of the horse’s back. With the pelvis upright, the hips move as though the rider was walking- right-left-right. The rider’s lower back must swing with the ‘up and down’ movement, or bounce. The hips, knees and ankles work together to act as a shock absorber. If the hips are correct, the rider’s legs stay in close contact with the horse’s sides.
If the rider is not balanced standing on the ground, there is no hope of keeping everything under control on the horse! Balanced rider= balanced horse!