6 Dressage Exercises To Help Improve Your Riding Posture

Here are my top dressage exercises that you can do at home to help improve your position and posture in the saddle.

Having a good dressage position is as much about the visual aesthetics as it is about ensuring you prevent wear and tear through your joints. As a rider our goal is to communicate clearly with the horse what we are asking and wanting it to do. This requires the right type of stability, stamina and suppleness from the body and in order to improve this doing dressage exercises that are specific to you as a rider is key.

Each movement you do can be considered an aid. By improving your position and posture you will help improve the clarity of your aids and therefore more likely to improve the way your horse responds. You see as riders our “fitness” we require is unique, riders need to have quick reactions while at the same time learn how to stay relaxed in the saddle. They need to stay super still and stable, while at the same time supple and mobile to move with the horse.

Every movement and leg aid we give the horse is communication that can either be clear and concise or grey and dull. Horses need clear communication from their rider and this requires a level of skill of the rider in how they control their own body and position in the saddle.

The subtle movement of a seat bone can be an aid that teaches your horse to respond. However, if your seat bones are constantly on the move and bouncing in the saddle, the horse becomes dull to that and could then be considered unresponsive and dull to your aids.

Your transition from trot to walk is as much about the horse staying forward and uphill, as it is about you staying centred and balanced and moving with the horse. If you collapse in your downward transitions, the chances of the horse doing the same are very high.

Everything from leg yielding, half pass, upwards transitions, downward transitions, square halts and canter pirouettes all require you as a rider to remain centred, balanced and stable as your light aid ask the horse to move.

Maintaining your neutral spine and proper dressage position as the force of the horse’s hind legs wants to propel you out of the saddle while any sideways movement want to push you out of your position requires good posture and position in the saddle.

 

Improving your riding position

Along with maintaining our position, for clarity of aids when we are riding, its also about keeping our body safe and moving correctly.

Ensuring our joints are sliding correctly and that our body is stacked up in a way that absorbs the horse’s movements. When we have blockages or stiff areas in our body, this can create undue wear and tear and often can lead to pain or injury.

So the key is to ensure you spend time making sure you are keeping your posture in balance and aligned so you can enjoy your riding in many years to come.

To get you started, try these dressage exercises throughout your day. You could do one exercise at a time or put them into a workout to do before you hop on your horse. Improve your balance and strength off the horse and notice how it improves your time on the horse.

Aim to do 12-15 reps of each exercise at a minimum.

 

Albatross

Great for upper body and improving posture through the shoulder girdle and upper back.

1. Laying flat on the ground, squeeze your bottom and keep your feet on the floor.
2. Then take your hands wide so your body makes a big T, lift your chest and your arms together while remaining looking down.
3. Allow yourself to come up as far as you can and then pulse at the top range of this position while keeping hands wide. Try pulses for 6 reps, then lower all the way down again.

Repeat 6 times through.

Dressage exercises

 

Upper Locust

Another great for upper body execise to help activate through the shoulder girdle and the muscles or your upper back.

1. Laying flat on the ground, squeeze your bottom and keep your feet on the floor.
2. Then take your hands wide so your body makes a big T and bend your elbows to make a “goal posts” with your hands, lift your chest and pull your hands up by your ears.
3. Allow yourself to come up as far as you can with your chest while keeping hands up and then straighten your arms forward and pull them back again towards your ears.

Try doing 12-15 reps.

Dressage exercises

 

Bridge Glute Lifts

Great for strengthening your bottom, hamstrings and lower back. Really good to wake up the glutes, especially if you have been sitting on it too long!

1. Laying on your back, lift your bottom up and pull your heels in towards your bottom and push up through your heels.
2. Have your heels hip distance apart your ensure your knees are over your heels.
3. Allow your arms to lay flat on the ground beside you with your palms down.
4. Press your hips to the sky focusing on squeezing your bottom and then lower again.

Try doing 12-15 reps.

Dressage exercises

 

Single-Leg Bridges

This is great for not just strengthening your bottom, hamstrings and lower back but also improving your symmetry. Similar to the above exercise with added intensity by just doing one leg at a time. Really good to wake up the glutes and highlighting any imbalances between each side.

1. Laying on your back, lift your bottom up and pull your heels in towards your bottom and push up through your heels.
2. Have your heels hip distance apart your ensure your knees are over your heels.
3. Allow your arms to lay flat on the ground beside you with your palms down.
4. Lift one leg up off the ground and press your hips to the sky focusing on squeezing your bottom and then lower again. Switch sides

Try doing 12-15 times each leg.

 

Horse Stance

Great for improving strength through the core, especially the stabilizer muscles that support the spine while at the same time improve coordination and balance.

1. Set yourself up on all fours, with your hands under shoulders and knees under hips.
2. Keeping your spine super still lift up your arm straight ahead with your thumb up.
3. If you can stay balanced with your hand, then add in your opposite leg.
4. Try lifting up an opposite hand to leg at the rate of your breath and lower back down again. The focus being staying stable and still.

Try doing it 12-15 reps each side.

Dressage exercises

 

Lower Locust

Great for improving strength through the lower back and into the glutes.

1. Laying down on your stomach with your head down, point your toes and lift your legs up off the ground.
2. Think of lifting the leg straight from your hip and not bending your knee.
3. Take your feet wide and then draw them back into together all while keeping the legs hovering off the ground.

Try repeating 12-15 reps

 

Supermans

Helps improve strength through the back, especially the stabilizer muscles that support the spine. Fantastic for activating our cross slings of our body and improving strength through the entire length of your back.

1. Laying on your stomach, squeeze your bottom and think of pointing your toe and stretching out through your pinky toe as you lift the leg up.
2. Try lifting the opposite arm up with your thumb to the sky and brace your belly while keeping your eyes down.
3. As you do this think of lifting each side up at the rate of your breath and lowering back down again. The focus is on control, not speed.

Try doing 12-15 reps each side.

These dressage exercises are great for improving overall functional strength and helping to ensure you are evenly balanced. To often we spend all our time focusing on our horse’s balance and strength. Notice what happens when you put just as much effort into your own balance and strength.

 

Want more articles on dressage exercises? Try these out.

Mounting Exercises To Help Improve Getting On The Horse

Dressage Rider Leg Strength – 6 Exercises To Help Your Improve

7 Exercises To Improve Lower Body Strength And Balance

5 Exercises To Test And Improve Your Rider Symmetry

Here are my top dressage exercises that you can do at home to help improve your position and posture in the saddle. #dressageexercises #dressage #dressagetraining

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