Once you have mastered mounting your horse the next step is to establish the correct rider position. Having the right position is vital, as it allows you to ride comfortably - and your horse to be able to bear your weight without problems.The right rider position is also important for your safety and that of the horse. The wrong position can easily lead to an accident or injury for one or both of you.
StirrupsIt is vital that the stirrups are set to the correct height before mounting. If you are unsure, ask for help, but you cannot correct them once you are on the horse, as you need the stirrups to mount. If the stirrups are the wrong length, it will have a knock-on effect on your riding posture and will lead to everything else being wrong as well.
Body PositionA balanced position is important and to achieve this, you must sit in the middle of the saddle which should be the lowest part. A balanced position helps the horse to stay balanced too and helps to stop yourself from falling.
You should bend your legs slightly and the balls of your feet should be resting on the bars of the stirrups. Let your legs rest flat against the saddle.
The ideal rider position makes a straight line from the heels to the head, taking in hips and shoulders. So make sure your heels are level with your hips and then sit straight with a straight back and head looking forward to complete this line.
Arms and ReinsThe position of your arms is just as important as that of your body as they are your means of communication with your horse, via the reins. You should relax your forearms, as though they were an extension of the reins themselves. The reins should be held just above the withers. To hold the reins, grip them with your fingers facing down. Then put your little finger underneath the reins and do the same with your thumbs. Then turn your hands so that your thumbs point forwards and your knuckles point down. Ideally, the reins should be able to move freely if you loosen your grip, but can be held fast when you tighten it. Keep some slack between the hands, as this will allow you to tell your horse when and which way to turn when you are riding.
Your teacher will be sure to show you some of the finer points of the rider position, but these are the basics. The main thing to remember is that you are comfortable and safe, before you set off. The horse will show he is comfortable by moving with freedom and ease. It will be easy to tell if the horse is not comfortable as his movements will become stilted.
Never adjust yourself while the horse is moving. If you think your position has changed or you feel uncomfortable or like you might fall off, bring the horse to a complete standstill before you attempt to change position. The horse responds to your movements, so if you start wriggling around in the saddle while he is walking or trotting, he will be unsure as to what you are asking him to do. For both of your sakes, take the time to get your rider position right – it could save you or your horse from being seriously hurt.