Improve Your Rider Shoulder Stability

As a rider the key is creating an illusion of stillness and creating soft hands is part of this picture. These hands aren’t rigid and they move with the horse. We must then have shoulders and wrists that are supple yet stable. If we become to rigid in either of these joints it affects our bodies ability to move with the horse and creates a blockage.

Just as our goal with the horse is that they are in balance and carrying themselves correctly then we to must have good shoulder-girdle stability and balance.  It is after all this stable base that soft hands comes from.

If you have poor shoulder stability and a strong wrist, you block the ability to move correctly with the horses movement. Now I am not saying its about a floppy wrist or grip. As riders we carry a elastic strength and if we have areas of tension this is translated through to our horse. So we need to have specific stability and suppleness in our body.

Often the area that lacks this is within our shoulders, from our office jobs, through to hours driving cars. Our posture gets affected. So putting some time into correcting this and enhancing this will only benefit your riding.

In order for strong stable shoulder blades our lower fibers of the trapezius, the serratus anterior and the rhomboids should all be working in conjunction. Along with this is the work of the latissimus dorsi which helps stabilize your upper arm.


Here are some exercises that will help you bring awareness to and improve your ability to achieve shoulder-girdle stability.


Wide Upper Locust

Lying face down point your toes and press your feet towards the ground while engaging and squeezing your thighs and bottom. Then take your arms wide and lift the upper body up while looking down and keeping your neck long. Aim to hold for 30 secs


Prone hold

Place your elbows under your shoulders and have your hands apart. Then brace your middle and tuck your tail underneath you like a scared cat. Lift your torso off the ground onto your knees or toes to make it harder. Aim to hold for 30 secs.



Set up as you did above, but this time add in the turn to the side. Keep the bottom engaged as well as the legs as you turn. Look towards the hand you are lifting.


Goal Post Locusts

Set up the same as above and bring your hand by your ears like goal posts with bent elbows. Then push them forward aiming to keep them up behind your ears. Look down and keep your neck long. Repeat these 10 times.


DB Lat Raises

Using some dumbbells or water bottles bend your arms to 90 degrees, then lift the elbow up to shoulder height and back down again. Keep your neutral spine and stable core while your arms lift.


Do each of these exercises as a circuit a 2-3 times through twice a week and you will begin to notice improvements to your upper body strength. Balance this out with hip mobility and core engagement and you are on a journey to improving your riding.

If you put the effort into improving your riding technique as much as you do your horses, you’ll be able to become a stronger team and your riding will start to excel. For more exercises, stretches and workouts to help advance your riding and fitness, check out our online dressage rider training program. Here, you’ll find all the tools and specific dressage exercises you need to take your riding to a new level.


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