When it comes to dressage one of the aims is about improving the balance of the horse. In order for this to happen when we are riding it is key that the rider is also in balance.
To achieve this we want to understand a little about gravity. This is a force that affects us no matter what (unless however, you are on the moon). So the key is to allow yourself to be properly aligned and balanced around your centre of gravity.
In order to achieve this you need to know where your centre is and the horses.
Now I am not going to give you an exact point because all of this is very dependent person to person, your height, weight and body distribution all affect where that point is. This pivot point is an area in which total mass can be concentrated. It’s an area where all the force of an object is balanced and directed down through.
For example, if you were suspended from this one point you would be balanced on each side. Another example if you were to take a circle the centre of gravity would be the middle. If you were to take an evenly shaped plank of wood that was the same size and weight at each end, the centre of gravity would be right in the middle. If that wood was oddly shaped and heavier at one end the centre of gravity point would move. Now in a human being this point is then slightly different person to person and the same with horses. Although roughly we can point to an area in which our centre is.
Now this centre of gravity point can also be manipulated, for example when a horse is stationary the centre is approx around the heart and below the wither. If the horse however raises their head the centre of gravity goes backwards. If the head is then lowered the centre of gravity moves forwards. The rider then also has the power to influence the horses centre of gravity and shift it from front to back, along with their own body.
So when we are riding and we ask the horse to move their centre of gravity back by carrying more weight on the hind legs in collection verses being on the forehand we are asking for a shift in that point. When asking for this of the horse it is then required that the rider is also balanced and stable so that they don’t interrupt or affect the balance of the horse.
In order to gain the ultimate dressage seat, discovering your centre of gravity is key. When you achieve this you can then develop your seat further with your supple lower back, engaged abdominal muscles, open hips, a long leg that hangs under the center of the balanced rider. All of this then allows the hips to swing and open with the horse and the horse to move freely underneath you. By working on your balanced seat and discovering your centre of gravity you are giving your horse the best opportunity to move more freely.
Improve your rider balance and discover more ways to develop your centre of gravity. Within the Dressage Rider Training program we combine tai chi and yoga with mobility work to really balance the rider and work on creating a deep independent seat.